Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. As you already know, under the threat of cabinet dissolution, the government has passed the bill that will allow Minister of Energy & Water Gibran Bassil to start drilling for oil in order to produce fuel which in turn, will create electricity. There are many controversies about this. The most talked about are that Bassil will have access $1.2 billion with no oversight as to how the funds are used, and that there is no set, concrete, detailed plan as to how these resources will be allocated, or even how to go about oil drilling. However, regardless of one’s political affiliation, one concern remains completely objective; the amount of environmental damage that drilling for oil will do, and the health risks it will pose for us.

When discussing oil drilling, many are unaware as to the extent of the damage that is has on our environment. Crude oil contains benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are highly toxic.  They cause high levels of air and water pollution. The damage includes irreversable destruction of  our wildlife and biodiversity, loss of fertile soil and farmland, pollution of air, poisoning of our drinking water, and serious health problems for us.  Let us examine the facts.

The pollution caused by oil-drilling comes from four different common occurences: gas flaring, above ground pipeline leakage, oil waste dumping, and oil spills. These are scarily common.  Indeed, out of all gas that is drilled for,  75% of it is flared. The result of this is that soot (grimy dirt deriving from burned resources), lands on roofs, windows, and buildings. Whenever it rains, the soot is washed off the buildings and creates toxic black water. This liquid will run into our soil, causing it  to become infertile and thus, harming our vegetation and ability to farm. In addition, this soot-water will run into our groundwater system and rivers. These toxic chemicals can instigate all sorts of diseases, including cancer, liver malfunction, circulatory problems, and irreversable respiratory problems. 

In addition, oil spills, oil leakage, and dumping oil are far more common than indicated on the news, for this is an easy and inexpensive way for companies to deal with the by-products of their drilling. They simply dump it into the sea, which pollutes the sea with toxins.  When it comes to us, this “dumped oil” will poison our drinking water, kill our marine life, and destroy our vegetation. Remember the fish that you enjoy eating? It will be pumped full of oil-derived toxins. The sea-water you like to swim in? You will be swimming in a pool of chemicals that will give you all sorts of diseases, some of which are irreversable. 

Nor will the health risks of oil drilling reach us through the water exclusively. The aforementioned toxic chemicals, permeate the air and can do so for kilometers, reaching people not only close to the drilling sites but further out, too. As such, we will inhale the by-products that the drilling will create. Inhaling these toxins causes difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and cognitive  difficulties. It also causes skin, liver, kidney, respiratory, reproductive, blood, immune system and nervous system damage, cancer and birth defects. The air pollution caused by oil drilling also causes severe environmental problems, as the airborne toxins clog up the pores trees use to release oxygen into the air. We will end up with poorer air quality and a more polluted environment.

Our land and water are already polluted enough, but they could end up looking like this:

My fellow Lebanese, I really don’t  know what else to say. This is what awaits us if this plan is put into action. What do we do?