Can ‘Religion' Provide a Response to Today's Climate Challenges? the Valuability of Environment in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Room: 511
Hossein GODAZGAR , Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, Dundee, United Kingdom
The very recent report published by the United Nations confirms unsurprisingly that around ninety five per cent of the current climate issues are man-made. This illustrates more than ever the significance of various dimensions of people’s everyday life, such as policy, religion and education that influence their practice of environment.

Environmental concerns are growing in Iran. Some of them are related to increasing dryness of rivers (such as Zayandeh-rood) and lakes (such as Urmieh and Hamoun) and expansion of sandstorms even to the mountainous area of north-west Iran. Having said this, intense air pollution in Tehran and other large cities is probably the most urgent concern. The main reasons for the pollution are: population growth, rural-urban migration, the poor quality fuels used by mostly old cars on the road, and industry – mainly due to the economic sanctions and the geographical location of cities – and, more importantly, a lack of awareness of the environment and of a positive attitude towards it.

Islamic government policies that have been used to deal with at least some of these concerns have not been always been systematic. The Islamic government’s disregard for the environment is also reflected in the state education system. Education in general, and in particular religious education, do very little to deal with these concerns.

It is expected that ‘Islam’ informs policy, state-provided education, people’s attitudes and practices towards sustainability in Iran. This paper concludes that this is not the case and aims to provide an explanation for this. Is ‘Islam’ really incapable of tackling climate challenges in the context of Iran? A social constructionist approach of ‘Islam’ will be presented.