Latest Entries »

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. I would provide you with so many excuses…but I suspect that we are used to hearing excuses from our politicians. We don’t need to do it to each other.

I’m sure you’ve all read Robert Fisk’s latest article–‘For once in the Middle East, a single Arab nation is solely responsible for the destruction of its land and heritage.’ In case you haven’t, it’s right here: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-countryside-destruction-tourism-villas-lakes-mountains-a8393126.html

It’s telling us what we have already known for years–that our land developers are pillaging our land and destroying it. We have been happy to sit on our hands and do nothing about it–well, to be fair, we do complain about it. We whine as to why no one cares. And go about our own way, not even realizing that it’s our country too, and if we want something changed–then it is our job. Like it or not.

Perhaps predictably, much of this illegal rock quarrying can be traced back to either government officials or affiliates, a peculiar subset of people upon whom the rule of law does not seem to apply. Through a cocktail of cynicism, ennui,  disinterest, and yes, fear–we simply turn our heads the other way–not only concerning environmental matters, either. Only 46% of eligible Lebanese voted in the elections–an all time low. If anything, this indicates our demoralization,  and the silent acknowledgement that we are so disconnected from our country that we have little fight left.

When you think about it, we’ve participated in warfare, protests, elections, and limited coordinated activity between civil society groups. And yet, we are still not able to meet our most basic needs. It’s no surprise that we turn our backs on our country. We don’t see that it is our job to take care of it, not the reverse.

More to the point though–we need to hold those perpetuating these environmental massacres (yes, I am using this phrase–and with no apology, either) accountable. We can do it through the law, withdrawal of popular support, public humiliation, or whatever political currency we have left. How bad to things have to get before we realize that we can only emigrate and leave for so long? How bad do things have to become before the realization that we are destroying the only home we have? What has to happen?

 

 

Advertisements

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Today was an interesting day in Beirut, filled with protesters, eggs, garbage, negotiations, and more. It appears as though finally, our leaders have put forth a proposal, which is to allow garbage collection to be the decision of the municipality.

While this is done in many countries and tends to be more effective, this does not solve our political crisis–it shifts the problem on another governmental apparatus! Moreover, do our existing municipalities have the facilities to process garbage effectively? If not, will the government help them secure these resources? Is anyone willing to answer these questions?

These leaders have been eating away at our governmental apparatus for their own gains, and the disease of corruption in our government could not be more clear. Now is the time for accountability, for functional government, for respect for law, and to have a country that we deserve. It is also time for us to stop willingly agreeing to function within such a corrupt apparatus–we need to have these values ourselves. It is up to us, Lebanon.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. The time where the state of our environment has come to represent much of what is wrong with our political system has arrived. The Naameh landfill has closed down, and the clowns we have for politicians cannot agree as to what happens next.

As awful as this is, and as terrible as this smells, this is actually the ghost of a new beginning. Our government is faced with the reality that it is dysfunctional, and can no longer hide. Our environmental problems must be addressed at this point. Moreover, this is one of our first mass secular movements, campaigning for effective environmental and political policy change.

My fellow Lebanese, we are at the crux of a new political era. It is up to us to use this period wisely, and to our advantage. Let us work to make a better Lebanon.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you are following our political programs, then you know that on January 17th, 2015, the council of ministers is set to meet. One of the many items set on their agenda is to discuss what to do with the Naameh Landfill.

In response to the activism coming from those living by the area, the Naameh landfill was supposed to be shut down last year. The understanding was that a new landfill would be opened in its place. Owing to the dynamics of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), the council did not make a decision as to where the new landfill would be, and delayed shutting down the Naameh landfill for a year. Now, the time to make a decision as to what to do has come again.

According to Minister of Health Wael Abou Faour, garbage will be spread in the streets on January 17th in order to pressure the council of ministers to take action, as opposed to postponing the decision yet again.

I cannot help but wonder though, why the idea is to simply create more landfills. Why not use waste management plants? Believe it or not, we actually have a number of such plants which are built, but not operational. Why not put our resources not only in diverting the trash away from Naameh, but also to processing our trash more responsibly in facilities which we have already built?

In any case, we are about to see environmental political protest in every sense of the word. Let us hope that this gets resolved soon.

Hello all. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. As I’m sure you all know, we have been enjoying a considerable amount of rain and snow coming from Storm Zina. Given that a picture says a thousand words, let’s take a look below:

What I find interesting is not only the unusual amount of rainfall that we are getting, but how markedly different it is than last year, when we had a severe drought and needed to appeal to international agencies for water.

Have we forgotten about that so quickly?

While weather fluctuations are normal, ones that are this dramatic are symptomatic of responses to climate change. In sum: we will most likely experience drought again, and we need to be prepared for it. It’s bad enough that there are water distribution problems in parts of Beirut and Mt. Lebanon. But if we harvest the rain, some of our water needs will be addressed. Let us not allow this opportunity to pass us by!

While I have addressed rain-harvesting before, I am going to do so again. Simply put, one places a large container on the roof of their building, which catches the water. The water is then funneled through a filtration system, making it potable. Below is a diagram:

The water can then be used for household purposes.Naturally, this is a template, and a catchment system is designed to suit your needs.

I hear the sighs of many people, saying that it is too expensive to build, that their neighbors in the building will never agree to having it, etc. I will not argue, as I am not familiar with either your budgets or your neighbors.

There are some who are so happy to have this water that they are placing plastic barrels either outside or on their roofs, bringing the containers inside when they are full, and boiling the water in the kitchen to cleanse it. This way they can shower, which they cannot do usually. Quite a thought, Lebanon.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure you all heard the news three days ago, when Minister of Health Wael Abu Faour announced that one of Beirut’s principle grain silos allows for heavy exposure to rats and pigeons. The images on MTV news indicated dead rats, pigeons on the rafters, and raw sewage floating in the road in front of the storage apparatus. Interestingly, 4000 drivers are responsible for transporting the grain, and they do not have access to bathrooms.

I am going to take a moment to let the implications of this sink in.

What I found even more outrageous was the fact that the Moussa Khoury, the director of the grain silo, kept arguing that everything was alright even though the camera captured all of these violations. He tried to pretend that raw sewage was rain water from the day before, and that it smelled bad because it had “rotted.”  He kept insisting that the rats and pigeons were only in the areas surrounding the the silos, and not in the actual storage units. Even if that were true, having such animals which are heavy carriers of disease around grain is enough.

Moussa Khoury isn’t the first defender of disease in Lebanon. At the Karantina slaughterhouse, Dr. Zeineddine Hasan, the resident veterinarian, said that there was nothing wrong with the slaughtering process. The process he was referring to was one where animals were being dragged through their own feces and slaughtered in front of each other while fully conscious.

To those who perpetuate these sub-standard health conditions: stop trying to defend yourselves. Stop acting as though you are innocent, as though everything is alright, and that you have nothing to do with perpetuating disgustingly low hygiene conditions. Admit your ineptitude, your inability to safeguard clean conditions for food, your pathetic inability to do your job well, and apologize for the mayhem that you’ve created…perhaps you’ll be slightly redeemed. But to think that you mean to convince us that “everything is alright”..that’s upsetting. On the bright side, at least you are temporarily shut down.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I am staring outside of my living room window, and wondering why all of the rain that is falling is going completely to waste. Last winter we had a drought. This winter we’ve had an abundance of rain–even floods–but it has yet to dawn upon us to conserve our water for such periods. Jeez.

If you watched Kalam al-Nass a few days ago, then you also heard that outside of the conflict in the region, resource scarcity as it applies to electricity and water demotivate the propensity to invest in Lebanon.

In a country where 300 out of 365 days are sunny, and where we have enough rain to harvest and re-use it, we have within us to change this. We have an enormous resource available to generate electricity, and we can significantly reduce our water scarcity if we were to use our water wisely. The problem is not our lack of resources. Believe it or not, we have resources. The problem is our inefficiency at utilizing them effectively.

My fellow Lebanese, it is time for this to change. It is time for us to invest in the development of green technology for the purposes of our economy. It is time for us to invest in green technology for the purposes of our environment, our health, and our development. We can do it, Lebanon!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. 2014 is coming to a close. We’ve had better years. Our presidential vacancy, the second suspension of the parliamentary elections, and the incursions by ISIS into Lebanon make it difficult to look back on 2014 with fondness. It also makes it difficult to think of ourselves in empowering political terms, as so much of this has happened against our will.

Such an ethos leaves us feeling powerless, and unable to affect positive change. This is perhaps the biggest danger of all.

I have no predictions about 2015. I leave such tasks to Michel Hayek and his associates. More to the point, I believe that shaping 2015 is up to us. It is up to us as to whether or not we choose to create change. It is up to us to step up and make the choice to care about our environment. it is up to us to start implementing environmentally friendly practices in our daily lives, such as changing patterns of consumption and lifestyle habits that produce unnecessary waste and pollution. It is up to us to advocate for the socio-political space to have our environmental needs addressed by policy-makers. It is up to us to problematize these issues so that they matter and cannot be ignored.

My fellow Lebanese, too often we discuss wanting change, but do not choose to be the change. This is our greatest failing. We aren’t alone in this. However, we do have the power. It is with us. Let us not continue to perpetuate the mood that created the cartoon below:

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Amid all of our political turmoil, it is perhaps easy to forget the joys of Lebanon–and even our responsibility to engage with them.

Eco-tourism is a slowly but surely growing trend in Lebanon. More people engage in hikes, walk through nature reserves, and try to enjoy the beauty that is Lebanon in the Cedars, Ehden, and others. Our people, who are local residents in these areas, are adjusting economically to this trend and are creating cooking classes, selling organic foods, and more. Unfortunately, current conflicts in Akkar and the Bekaa make it difficult to access some of our green spaces. But I digress.

My fellow Lebanese, it is our responsibility not only to find ways to relax and enjoy our country, but to engage in our communities and to help empower them. These communities need our money far more than foreign food chains ever will–and frankly, we will get so much more out of it if we learn to engage in the nature of our country and relax in it. Let us do it not only for them, but also for us. Let us develop and promote eco-tourism, and develop a culture of appreciation for our land, our nature, our country, and our people.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. It’s been an interesting few days–last winter we had the worst drought in 140 years, and now our streets are flooded. Unless, I miss my guess, these are the effects of climate change. Yet, we are doing nothing to accommodate for them–or even use them to our advantage.

My fellow Lebanese, rain like this should be harvested and kept for later use. Last winter’s drought could very easily happen again, and without water trade policies, we will be in big trouble. Having to trade in water will make our already fragile country even more reliant on external powers not only for natural resources, but also to their own economic shocks. Should anything happen to their resources, or should they decide to stop trading with us–what’s our plan then?

Lebanon, let us use this time to our advantage. Let us harvest this rain. Let us use this water for our home use. Let us use it for our summer vegetables, fruits, and more. We need this, Lebanon.

The best part of this is that we can do it easily. Water harvesting involves placing a water catchment system on the roof, (usually in the form of barrels, and then having it dispersed for a) household use b) drip irrigation c) kept for storage later Check out this diagram: