Importance of Culture in Ecological Dialogue
16th Eurasian Economic Summit Istanbul 2013
A Holistic World Systemic Model for Government Decision Makers
by Professor Salim T S Al-Hassani,
President Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), UK
Good morning Honorable Guests, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
The title of this session is Culture and Ecological Dialogue. The organisers of the Summit described their expectation from this session by this sentence:
"We are tenants of the Nature. However, we insist not to fulfill our responsibilities. Consequently all living creatures are under constant threat. What should be our duty towards our future?"
I am sure you all agree with me that a high and sustainable quality of life is a central goal for humanity. Our current socio-ecological regime and its set of interconnected worldviews, institutions, and technologies all support the goal of unlimited growth of material production and consumption as a proxy for quality of life. However, abundant evidence shows that, beyond a certain threshold, not only does further material growth not meet humanity's central goal, it actually creates significant hurdles to sustainability through increasing resource constraints like oil and water limitations as well as climate disruption. A quick look at the first three figures (Curtsey of Tony Hodgson - Decision Integrity and IFF) show how population, urban living, energy consumption and ecosystem distress increased in an alarming manner over a period of 100 years.
Overcoming these hurdles and creating a sustainable and desirable future will require an integrated, systems level redesign of our socio-ecological regime focused explicitly and directly on the goal of sustainable quality of life in a single planet living rather than the proxy of unlimited material growth.
If we live like Cubans we probably manage in one planet, but if we all live like Australians we shall require about 4 planets. You cannot imagine how many planets we shall need if we all lived like Texans.
This transition, like all cultural transitions, will occur through an evolutionary process, but one that we, to a certain extent, can control and direct. This figure shows how a transition can take place from the present Horizon 1 state to the final state, Horizon3, through a realistic process, Horizon 2.
So we all have a common cause, a better future. It is our legacy to all of our children and theirs too, wherever they are in the world, whatever race, color, culture, religion, sex or age they are. Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem using the thinking that created it. This is where we need to see real innovation – in how we perceive, how we think, how we relate, how we grow, how we communicate, how we change, how we learn. Together. All of these things must be done together.
The questions facing us now are about how will we do this, where do we start, how do we overcome the barriers of culture, religion, politics and history. These are big issues but they are precisely the reasons why the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), of which I am President, was formed some twelve short years ago.
I would like to give you an argument, which I hope will help.
When each of us looks at a particular situation, we will all see different issues, different causes, different problems to overcome, different solutions, different resources we can apply, different hurdles and different ways through. Because we are all different – this is a reflection of our identity, which is unique for each of us. So we try to build the future, in the present, through - and using - our identity. Our identity is shaped by the culture which surrounds us, our family and friends, our education, the media we are subjected to, the religion we are introduced to and so on. These things form our identity, which is formed in the past. It is through the eyes of the past that we look at the present and towards the future. We all have different pasts, some of which are in conflict. We at the FSTC believe those pasts can be changed.
A major reason for which FSTC was formed, was to address what we refer to as 1000 years of amnesia. In the West – certainly in the UK and Europe – we are taught that, before the Middle Ages, the Greeks and Romans (and maybe some Chinese and Indians) did all of the thinking and making. And then, during the Middle Ages, not much was going on and, suddenly, almost out of nowhere, the Renaissance happened, and within a magical 50 years or so many inventions and discoveries were made that have produced our modern world. And then there is a continuous history until today. This is simply untrue.
During those Middle Ages, whilst not much was happening in Europe, important discoveries were being made, the knowledge passed on by the Greeks and Romans was being built upon and all of this was done in a civilisation that stretched from Spain to China and included more or less all religions, and cultures. So many of the basics of our modern world were given to us by the civilisation that focused all of this knowledge, invention, discovery, literature, poetry, medicine, and entertainment. And yet we are not taught this. So the West appears as the source of all of our culture. So if you look at tenable proper history, with an open mind, we suggest that you will see a past that is not what you thought it was, that did not include so much culture from, for instance, the Muslim civilisation, or the Chinese, or the Indian and so on – all of whom have contributed to our modern world.
So, to get back to my short argument, you find that we each share part of our past with people a lot of us think of as ‘not us'. And s
by: Salim T. S. Al-Hassani by: Sir Crispin Tickell
Sir Crispin Tickell
The following short article is based on the notes for a speech presented to the Muslim Heritage Awareness Group held at the Royal Society in London, 14 July 2009. The MHAG is a consulting network to the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC). The theme for this meeting was Environment and Muslim Heritage. The notes were published on Sir Crispin Tickell website.
1000 Years Amnesia: Environment Tradition in Muslim Heritage by: by Prof. Salim T S Al-Hassani
Ecology in Islamic Culture: A Selected Critical Bibliography by: FSTC Research Team<
FSTC Research Team
The studies on the Islamic view of environment protection and the links between Islamic classical culture and ecology knew recently a notable progress, testified by numerous valuable publications in various languages. The following is a critical bibliography, organised alphabetically, that we conceived of as a guide for the interested reader. It includes references to works published recently in different languages, including Arabic. The publications in Arabic are particularly valuable, as they are hardly known by Western scholars, although some of them deserve to be known.