The Quran, Islam's holy book, is filled with more than 1,500 verses to nature and Earth. Yet the voice of Islamic leaders is missing from the global dialogue on warming. That disappoints Muslim environmental activists, who believe the powerful pull of Islam could be the ideal way to change behavior in both poor countries, where many people's main source of information is the mosque, and in some wealthy countries like Qatar where Islam remains important even as rapid growth has made it the world's top per capita emitter of carbon dioxide.
"It's absolutely frustrating," said Fazlun Khalid, founder of the U.K.-based Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, which oversees projects around the world that use Islamic teachings to combat problems ranging from deforestation to overfishing.
"We get very little support from Muslims," he said. "They don't connect. We have to wake them up to the fact their existence is threatened by their own behavior. Modernity and the economic development paradigm is about dominating nature. Islam, as you are aware, is submission to the will of the creator. We need to remind ourselves that we have to submit."
As the annual U.N. climate conference neared its halfway point in Doha, the usual splits opened up between rich and poor nations over how to divide the burden — and financial cost — of protecting the world from overheating.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres lamented that she didn't see "much public interest, support, for governments to take on more ambitious and more courageous decisions."
"Each one of us needs to assume responsibility. It's not just about domestic governments," she said.
The talks are aimed at limiting the level of warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared to temperatures before the industrial revolution. So the main focus is to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases that a vast majority of climate scientists say is to blame for the rising temperatures.
That goal gets more difficult to reach ever year. Temperatures have already risen about 0.8 degrees C (1.4 degrees F), according to the latest report by the U.N.'s scientific panel on climate change. And a series of reports before and during the conference warned that global emissions are still increasing, primarily driven by the rapid growth of emerging economies such as China and India