Meet the Scholars/Activists
Buddhism: Christopher Ives
Christopher Ives is Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College. His scholarship focuses on ethics in Zen Buddhism and Buddhist approaches to nature and environmental issues. His publications include “Resources for Buddhist Environmental Ethics” (Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2013); Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics (2009); Zen Awakening and Society (1992); a translation of philosopher Nishida Kitarō’s An Inquiry into the Good (co-translated with Abe Masao, 1990); a translation of Hisamatsu Shin’ichi’s Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition (co-translated with Tokiwa Gishin, 2002); The Emptying God (co-edited with John B. Cobb, Jr., 1990); and Divine Emptiness and Historical Fullness (edited volume, 1995), as well as several other book chapters and articles. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and serves as co-chair of the Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection Group of the American Academy of Religion.
Christianity: Joe Gunn
Joe Gunn is the Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice, a Canadian organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy. The call to do justice is described by Joe as his life’s “vocation.” After earning his master’s degree, Joe worked in Latin American refugee camps and served as a Country Director for Canadian Save the Children. For over ten years, he worked with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he developed policy and coordinated work in areas of social justice, missions, and Aboriginal peoples. He served as the founding vice-chair of KAIROS-Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and has been active in the Canadian Council of Churches’ Commission for Justice and Peace as well as the churches’ ecumenical health care initiative. He has coordinated the Make Poverty History campaign, and engaged in research, public speaking and advocacy on national and international issues.
Hinduism: David Haberman
David Haberman is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. He received his Ph.D. in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago. His current research interests focus on Hinduism and ecology and Deep Ecology. His book Yamuna: River of Love in an Age of Pollution examines the theology and religious practices associated with the river goddesses of northern India, the manner in which the religious culture connected with rivers changes when a river becomes severely polluted, and the responses to resist river pollution being generated by religious communities involved in river worship. His book People Trees: Worship of Trees in Northern India, examines the conceptions of and interaction with trees in the context of tree shrines of India.
Islam: Fazlun Khalid
Fazlun Khalid has a worldwide reputation as an indefatigable advocate of environmental protection rooted in Islam. He founded the UK-based Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and he has devoted his energies since the mid-1980s to promoting Islamic environmental practice in both its theological and practical manifestations. His work in the field, from Africa to Indonesia, has been devoted to translating theology into training modules and projects in threatened habitats. He is recognized globally as a leading eco theologian, and he is listed among the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan. His work displays a sustained effort to unite people of all persuasions in dealing with a common threat and also a deep commitment to the cause of environmental justice for the poor in developing countries. He is one of the authors of the 2015 Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.
Judaism: Ellen Bernstein
Rabbi Ellen Bernstein founded Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth, the first national Jewish environmental organization in 1988, after finding her way back to Judaism through her interests in wilderness and ecology. She has been dubbed the “birthmother of the Jewish environmental movement” and “a pioneering thinker who helped define modern Jewish environmentalism.” She is author/editor of three books on Judaism and Ecology: Let the Earth Teach You Torah, Ecology & the Jewish Spiritand The Splendor of Creation: A Biblical Ecology. She has written haggadot (ritual guides) for the Jewish holiday, Tu B’Sh’vat, the Jewish New Year for the Trees, and has popularized the holiday as an ecological festival, creating large scale inter-spiritual Tu B’Sh’vat arts and music celebrations for groups around the country. She has taught graduate level courses in Reading the Bible Ecologically, and presented her work on biblical ecology in universities, synagogues and churches. She was a featured speaker at the Religions for the Earth conference and final ceremony which culminated in the 2014 Peoples’ Climate March. Currently she is developing her eco-theology, writing a commentary on Song of Songs from an ecological perspective, and working as a Spiritual Advisor at Hampshire College. Leaf Litter readers interesting in talking with Ellen can contact her at email@example.com.
Is there one key teaching/piece of scripture you think best exemplifies your faith community’s (or the faith community which you study) relationship with nature or the natural world?
Haberman (Hinduism): To put it in theistic terms, it is the concept that God is everything, which is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita in the simple sentence “Vasudeva Sarvam.” That idea that goes back even further to earlier scriptures (Upanishads) in which it is expressed “Brahman is everything and everything is Brahman.” Brahman is the Sanskrit term that is used to characterize the radically interconnected nature of reality.
Khalid (Islam): The Qur’an (30:41) reminds us:
Corruption has appeared on land and sea
Because of what people’s own hands have wrought,
So that they may taste something of what they have done;
So that hopefully they will turn back.
The Qur’an is reminding us of the degradation we could be causing the earth by the way we have ordered our affairs. Humankind is exhorted to learn from these mistakes so that it may turn back to the original state of balance, which the Qur’an describes as Mizan. It’s a lesson about understanding what our limits are, and how far we can go in taking from the earth for our needs.
Bernstein (Judaism): I wrote a whole book [The Splendor of Creation] on Genesis 1 (the creation story in the Bible) because I think what best exemplifies the biblical appreciation for nature is the understanding of God as creator.Genesis In the Genesis narrative, on each day of the week, God creates a different aspect of nature (mythically speaking). On the first day: light. On the second day: air. The third day: water and earth. The fourth day: stars and planets. The fifth day: fish and birds. The sixth day: animals and people. Then there was a day of rest. So first the habitats are created, and then the inhabitants are born of the habitats. The world and everything in it is “good” and has value, because God created it. [There is controversy over] verse 28, which states that people are given “dominion” over the Earth and all creatures. Some say that verse gives people a mandate to control, abuse, and exploit nature. The reason I wrote The Splendor of Creation was to show that that is not an accurate reading of that line. Each day, each thing that was created, God called “good,” and that means everything has integrity and everything has value. Why would the biblical author want us to control or abuse something that is so good and precious? The creation story gets overlooked all the time. People say, “Oh, it’s just a myth. It doesn’t really matter.” Many of us read the entire Bible as myth, but myths evoke truth.
Ives (Buddhism): The Buddhist doctrine of dependent arising—the idea that all “things” exist by virtue of myriad conditioning factors in a vast, ever-changing process—is in key respects highly ecological. [When] realized experientially through meditation, and in conjunction with the core Buddhist value of non-harming, [this doctrine] leads to deeper awareness of the impact of one’s actions on the natural world and, by extension, a deeper sense of responsibility for those actions.
Gunn (Christianity): The teaching that emerged in Latin America in the 1970s, when the Brazilian Liberation Theologian, Leonardo Boff, said that “The cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor are one and the same.” That idea has made its way into official teachings, and was even echoed in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. The ecumenical discussion around our relationship with nature and the natural world is tied into the social justice message very firmly. In fact, we just had 65 different church leaders in Canada sign an interfaith statement “On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada” in September.
What can you tell us about the history of the religion’s connection to the land/natural world/natural resources? Has that connection changed over time? If so, how?
Bernstein (Judaism): The bible is a totally land-centric text. The word “land” (“eretz” in Hebrew) appears in the bible about 2,000 times. Most people do not read with land-centric eyes, and think of land in terms of real estate, territory, and politics, rather than spirituality and the source of life. All of the fundamental Jewish holidays are agricultural. JewishFarmerSukkot is the harvest holiday. Passover is when wheat was planted. Shavu ‘ot was when the first wheat was harvested. Holidays are important; they’re how thousands of people get organized and how the religion is celebrated outside of text. In the Bible, Jews lived in the land of Israel, so they were connected to the land. When the temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish life, was destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again, Jews went into exile and lost their connection to the land. They lived in exile in Babylonia, and then in lands all over the world for thousands of years. For the most part, Jews weren’t allowed to own land. There were some who farmed, but for the most part, Jews became more of an urban, intellectualized people. Over the last 20-30 years, however, there has been a total revival [in Jewish connection to land and nature]. People are now seeing that the natural dimensions of Judaism are rich, and a way to engage Jews in Judaism. The Jewish world is very concerned about Jews “leaving the tribe.” Anything to get Jews more interested in their tradition is important to the Jewish establishment. People recognize that this ecological thrust is authentic to Judaism. We now see it manifesting in Jewish farms, gardens, and outdoor education centers and programs.
Ives (Buddhism): Buddhism historically has had a mixed view of the natural world. Contrary to popular images, many early Buddhist thinkers viewed nature as a trap, as the realm of attachment and suffering, and viewed wild places as dangerous. At the same time, while preferring such tamed locations as gardens, they viewed wild places as good locations for intensive meditation practice insofar as those places were removed from the temptations of life in society and offered silence, solitude, and salutary examples of impermanence. MonkThe view of nature as a trap shifted in East Asia, where Buddhists—influenced by new doctrines, Daoism, and certain aesthetic traditions—have had a more positive view of nature. In the West at present, “green” Buddhists have been drawing on traditional teachings and practices in Asia to create and engage in new environmental practices and forms of activism. Gradually, Buddhism has placed greater value on the natural world as it spread from South Asia to East Asia, and then to Europe and North America.
Gunn (Christianity): The Christian message, especially in the Old Testament, gives a very clear mandate to care for creation. Since the 1990s, this has been stated in official church documents, but it has yet become mainstream [in terms of action]. You can go to just about any Christian church service anywhere in North America, and the parking lot on Sunday morning looks very similar to the parking lot of Walmart. I’m not sure the biblical teachings have really sunk in. Four years ago, CPJ produced a book of prayers and reflections [Living Ecological Justice: A Biblical Response to the Environmenatl Crisis], and suggested actions on the environment from different ecumenical authors–Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, Mennonites, Christian Reform, and others. It is being used by some small committees in churches, but it is very slow to get into their worship services.
Haberman (Hinduism): Hinduism has an unbroken history of worship of what I call “natural forms of divinity, such as rivers, trees, and mountains. The earliest expression of this goes back 3,500 years to the Vedas, which contain hymns addressed to certain natural forces–such as wind, water, or fire—as divinities. The Bhagavad Gita goes back 2000 years. “Puja,” acts of worship that date back many, many centuries, involve people establishing a relationship by offering some kind of appreciative or honorific interaction with a natural form of divinity. Within Hinduism, the idea that the natural world is fully divine is well-accepted and found in scriptures, but it is also carried out in actual practices. I wrote a book about the theology of the Yamuna River [River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India] which showed how the religious worldview is informing a lot of the efforts to restore the river to a state of health. I have also written about how central tree worship is to a lot of Hindu practices [People Trees: Worship of Trees in Northern India].
The commodification of nature has come into India in increasing amounts, and we are seeing a sea of change within Indian culture. For example, when I first lived along the banks of the Yamuna River in the early 1980s, there was much embodied interaction with the River. As it has become increasingly polluted by human waste, industry and commercial agriculture, fewer people are willing to put their bodies in the river, and there has been a decline in some of the rituals connected with it. On the other hand, we are also seeing an increase of environmental activism around rivers that is being articulated in terms of the harm to the goddess associated with that natural entity. That becomes a motivating factor to engage in environmental action to protect and restore the river.
Khalid (Islam): The Qur’an is inherently environmental. There is a clue, in Chapter 51, verses 20 and 21:
On the earth are signs for those of assured faith.
And also in your own selves. Will you not then see?
The key word in this group of verses is “signs.” The Arabic word for signs is “ayat,” and it is used here to describe the natural world. This word is exactly the same word that is used to describe the “verses” in the Qur’an. The earth is the ontological Qur’an—the book of nature. Chapter 96 of the Qur’an narrates the event of the first revelation, when the vision appeared to the Prophet in the cave, and exhorted him to “Read.” The Prophet replied “I cannot read.” The vision then repeated the word “read” three times and said,
Read in the name of your Lord who created.
There was no book that the prophet could have read from. The only book available to him to read was the book of nature itself. Nearly every page of the Qur’an contains a reference to nature: the sun, moon, stars, earth, bees, camels, spiders, etc. How humans function in the natural world is what the Qur’an is about.
How did we lose this fundamental teaching? We lost the connection because with the rest of the world, Muslims have jumped on the globalized, industrialized consumer lifestyle. They have relegated their faith to ritual only to be dominated by the developmental and consumerist ethic. We are all part of this problem.
Who would you say most powerfully expresses your faith community’s voice today—on a global scale–when it comes to caring for the environment?
Ives (Buddhism): The two most famous Buddhists in the world today, the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, have both spoken out about environmental issues, but the most powerful voice is Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American monk and translator, who has recently been writing discerning analyses of the climate crisis, its causes, and possible solutions.
Gunn (Christianity): Pope Francis certainly is the most well-known. In Canada, we have Elizabeth May, who is a member of Parliament who is the leader of the Green Party. Before she was elected to Parliament, she was studying to become an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest. In Canada, she is well known as someone who can walk the talk of both a Christian and an environmentalist.
Khalid (Islam): Islam does not have a Pope or a Dalai Lama. If there is one person, historically, from whom I have learned a great deal, I would say Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr at Washington State University. He wrote Man and Nature way back in the 1960s, soon after Rachel Carson. He was one of the pioneers—if not the pioneer–of the eco-faith movement. If there is an organization that that articulates the Islamic voice in this matter I’d say it’s the organization I run, IFEES. We try to motivate people and that’s why we took a lead in writing the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. We also try to work with young people and try to empower them to carry on this work. We are also very much a part of the interfaith environmental movement. A verse in the Qur’an states:
He (God) wanted to test you regarding what has
come to you. So compete with each other
in doing good deeds.
I wish to have others come compete with us as friendly rivals doing something for the earth and the people who live in it. There are no losers in this competition and uniquely we can all be winners.
Bernstein (Judaism): This is a difficult question since a few of us have been promoting these ideas for 25 years. And today there are activist voices; there are education voices; there are spiritual voices. There’s no one leader. Rabbi Arthur Waskow [of the Shalom Center] offers a strong activist voice; Nigel Savage [of Hazon] provides a strong voice for Jewish outdoor education and farms, and there are many, many others who speak to and for different denominations and groups.
Haberman (Hinduism): Hinduism is so vast and diverse, there could be no single individual. I can talk about examples. The Kumbha Mela, for example, is a religious gathering that happens every 12 years at the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges Rivers. There are always a large number of religious leaders present, and many of them have spoken out on environmental issues, especially the pollution of the rivers. But here’s what is different about river environmentalism in India vs. the US: it is articulated in terms of saving the “Ganga Ma,” the goddess of the Ganges. It’s about protecting “her,” the divinity of the river.
Among people of the faith you study, what do you think is the most powerful motivator for caring for nature today?
Ives (Buddhism): For Buddhists the most powerful motivator is the recognition of the suffering that is caused by human degradation of natural systems. Also contributing to caring for nature is a cluster of core Buddhist values: non-harming, compassion, simplicity, contentment, and awareness of how we are embedded in nature and how our well-being depends upon an array of conditions in nature. In Buddhism, the cultivation of these values leads both to greater care for nature and to greater spiritual fulfilment.
Khalid (Islam): The Qur’an and what is known as the Sunnah—the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet is sometimes referred to as the Qur’an walking, as he exemplified its teachings in many ways. For example, the Qur’an asserts:
MuslimWomanAllah does not love the wasters.
As a reflection of this the Prophet once chided a man for wasting water, telling him he shouldn’t do it even if he was by a flowing river.
The Qur’an addresses the aspect of connectedness by describing the Creator as al Muhit, the all Encompassing.
Bernstein (Judaism): In Judaism, there is a concept known as “Tikkun Olam,” which means “repairing the world.” This idea stands as a pillar supporting the Jewish community. There is also the obligation to give “Tzedakah,” which is charity. These concepts are very powerful motivators for Jews, whether they are religious or secular—and most Jews are secular—and whether they are environmentalists or not. Even those who do not have a strong connection to land or nature would have a connection to the reality of people being displaced from their homes and all of the [human] ramifications of climate change.
Gunn (Christianity): We really can’t underestimate the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’. It really was a tipping point for discussing climate. Just last weekend, the Vatican sent out a note to every Catholic bishop in the world asking them to get involved in the 2300 climate marches that took place [during COP21]. The other big motivator is that people—particularly young people–are realizing that climate change is causing damage and destruction around the world, and we have to take it on. All of the churches in Canada all have international development agencies. They all collect money and fund projects overseas. Each of those organizations has been at the forefront of pointing out how climate change is destroying the processes and possibility of development in the global south, and that we’re wasting precious time and resources on development projects if we’re not addressing climate issues and environmental integrity. People are looking at what’s happening in the real world and saying, “If we are morally and ethically integrating what we say and what we do, we have to address these issues.”
Haberman (Hinduism): The widespread notion of the sacrality of all of life. In Hinduism, there is no hard boundary between God and the natural world. The world is considered to be a manifestation of divinity. There is no boundary between “creator” and “creation” and that means that all life is sacred.
The Pew Research Center just released a report showing that in the U.S., people are becoming less religious. Do you think recent statements and calls to action on the environment by global religious leaders may lead people to—or back to—religion?
Gunn (Christianity): I’d say “back to religion” is the wrong phrasing. There is no question that in Western thought and Christian traditions since the Enlightenment, there has been this notion that we have to torture nature, and squeeze out every last drop from it. We don’t want to go “back” to anything like that. We want to have a new spirituality that reinterprets the text and calls us to conversion and new action. It’s not a question of having people come back to a message that was inappropriate. This whole business really challenges churches to be quite different than they were. But it is happening. For example, the Anglican Church of Canada voted on and accepted an actual change to their Baptismal rite. When someone is Baptized into the Anglican church in Canada, there is now a new line in the prayer which says that by the Baptism, the person will commit themselves to the care for creation and be part of a protectorate for God’s great Earth.
Khalid (Islam): I don’t agree that people are becoming less religious. We all need something to hold on to. The new faith is a dualism and it encompasses consumerism and hedonism. It’s a belief system, and adherents have their temples and mosques, which are the shopping malls and banks. They have their priests, who are politicians and bank managers. They have their places of pilgrimage, such as the World Bank, the IMF, and every country’s central bank.
However, as a reflection of my answer to your first question, people are looking for a fresh start. A reevaluation of what we call modernity is now taking place. A sense of the connectedness of the human to the natural world is slowly beginning to reemerge, but in my view not quick enough given the climate crisis. For Muslims it is a call to reinforce their responsibility as stewards and carers to protect our earthly home in the interests of future generations. There is nowhere else to go!
In July, we were all treated to a beautiful NASA image of Earth, taken from a million miles away. We notice that it is finite but we are exponentially consuming nonrenewable resources. Chemical agriculture is destroying the land. The air is becoming poisoned. The planet is overheating. Would we do this to the homes we live in? Of course not. So why are we doing this to the planet? We have lost our sense of the profound, and our understanding of our place in the world. I had a eureka moment recently as I was showering. The water that was flowing over my head could have been used by a Chinese farmer a few years ago. The water in my body could have been in the body of a mouse or an elephant not so long ago. The rain cycle has replenished the earth with the same water over and over again for millennia after millennia. We have lost these very basic lessons, and the connection we have to the earth and to each other.
Ives (Buddhism): Those statements and calls to action may not lead many people back to organized religion, but I imagine they will contribute to what we might call “nature spirituality” or simply a greater valuation of nature and a deeper sense of connection to it.
Haberman (Hinduism): I’d question the study, because we are living in a time in the U.S. where people make a distinction between religion and spirituality. Hinduism doesn’t make that distinction between religion and spirituality, so the results might look very different in India. What I see happening is that the environmental crisis is changing religion radically, and making us question our relationship with the world outside of the human. I see this particularly with religious world views that posit a highly transcendent god that has nothing to do with this world other than guiding moral behavior. That idea is being questioned. If I had to put in a nutshell what I see going on worldwide, it is a return to imminence–a return to giving serious consideration to the presence of God in natural form.
Bernstein (Judaism): Some synagogues have started integrating [care for Earth] in education programs in order to reach young Jewish people. At the synagogue to which I belong in western MA, many once unaffiliated families are now sending their kids to Jewish programs because they are so vibrant, and many of our holiday programs how take place outdoors and are really fun. This is a radical shift. Just a few years ago, all of Jewish life took place indoors! But I want to speak to something a little different. I think people will start to come to synagogue and potentially [other places of worship], because they are desperate for community. I think they are going to become more desperate for community as more horrible things start happening. If [places of worship] can respond to that need for solace, I think they will be able to attract more people. I think the obligation of our spiritual institutions is to offer hope.
Many Leaf Litter readers are biologists, ecologists, planners, architects, landscape architects, water resources engineers, and managers within natural resources, public works, and parks agencies. Do you have any words of wisdom to offer these readers?
Ives (Buddhism): I simply want to celebrate and express gratitude for their efforts to mitigate ecological destruction and foster ways of living that deepen people’s sense of dependence on nature and contribute to ecological sustainability.
Gunn (Christianity): Don’t let organized religion off the hook. Churches in our society are still powerful. A study of the environmental movement in North America will show that since the 1970s, there has been conflict between people of faith and environmentalists. That is changing. People concerned about the environment understand that fundamental changes to our lifestyle and way of seeing the world are called for. It’s not just about recycling. Faith communities are organized. Faith communities are people who are already committed to looking at conversion, making their lives better, and banding together in community. They provide a cosmological vision. Infusing that vision with ecological sensitivity could make a huge difference in the ways society responds to the huge challenges before us. DonationsBuild links with religious organizations. There are very few faith communities that do not have an outreach program for the poor. Linking in environmental concerns with concerns of social and economic justice is something churches struggle to do, so whenever there can be leadership from outside the community that can help that process go forward, those are opportunities waiting to happen.
Haberman (Hinduism): We live in an increasingly pluralistic world today, and religion matters. My advice would be to take religion seriously, understand the power of religion in human social life, and develop more literacy with respect to culturally specific religious perspectives on the environment. I’m seeing increasing evidence that religion has a vital role to play in returning to a much healthier relationship with the non-human world.
Bernstein (Judaism): It is very important for religious institutions to see environmentalists as allies, and vice versa. We will only be able to restore the world if we do it together. If you are working on a project and need a resource for volunteers, energy, or publicity, consider contacting the leaders of religious institutions. At synagogues, we always have guest speakers talk about issues and provide information about how people can get involved. If anything, [collaborating with religious institutions on environmental work] is a huge opportunity for bridge building, and for overcoming assumptions about what it means to be religious, or to believe in God, and for synagogue members to overcome assumptions about what it means to be an environmentalist. Relationship building may be the first step in the process of environmental repair. Also, for people out in the field who are despairing, because they really see the pain and suffering that is being caused by climate change and by us humans: check out religious institutions. They can be places of solace and hope.
Khalid (Islam): By now, professionals working in these disciplines will have realized that the earth is one ecosystem. The niches they work in are connected to each other. Although not scientifically expressed, there was an unconscious recognition of this truth in faith and traditional communities of the past in the way they lived their lives. But this has now been overtaken by the growth and developmental model which is responsible for the environmental mayhem we now experience. Cross disciplinary engagement is imperative today, especially between environmentalists and economists who, up to now, how been living in different worlds. We try to project an integrated perspective in the work we do.
Note: If you are involved in ecological restoration and conservation initiatives in Muslim countries, the IFEES can help you to better connect with Muslim communities, and provide Muslims with the ethical basis and motivation for action. In 1998, IFEES worked with CARE International to pioneer a conservation initiative that channeled people’s faith in Islam to help protect marine biodiversity threatened by unsustainable fishing practices on the island of Misali in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The effort also helped maintain the economic benefit of tourism and improve local quality of life. Misali has since become a marine conservation zone that has been absorbed in a major, state-sponsored project. According to Khalid, lessons learned from that effort have been since applied to other locations on the East Coast of Africa. Khalid continues to conduct workshops on integrating Islam teachings with conservation efforts and introducing Sharia land resource management techniques in many other parts of the world.