Hello, Lebanon.  It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. In discussing environmental matters, I heard one girl say “This is  Lebanon, I wish we could make a difference.” Because, naturally, shrugging it off and blaming her unwillingness and reluctance to participate in rehabilitating the country helps matters. At the risk of sounding harsh, I think that’s pathetic.

I won’t deny that our government is corrupt, inefficient, and has little accountability to us.  That said, it’s not like policy changes like magic in states with a stronger and more efficient government apparatus, either.  Wherever you live, the change starts with the population.

Lebanon, the state of our environment is horrendous. We have a 5% increase in cancer cases every year, and my best guess is that this is due to our environment. Think about it. Our waste water goes untreated. Mind you, we water our crops with it. We toss our garbage into our rivers and our sea, too. We have 800 illegal landfills which we do absolutely nothing about. We throw our garbage into the sea and into the street with no scruples. We over-pollute when we drive, as we refuse to carpool or use public transportation, or even turn off the engine when we get stuck in traffic for extended periods of time, and inhale all the fumes. As a general rule, we don’t save up on our water or invest in water-saving infrastructure when we are due for a water shortage in 2015. We participate in desertification and cut down our trees with little thought as to the effect on the environment and then wonder why it gets hotter and more polluted every year. We don’t invest much in renewable energy, and then pollute the environment with our generator fumes and waste money paying for it when we could use a more reliable and clean source of energy…the sun. We have no urban planning, and then wonder why we have over-crowding, unsanitary conditions, and more urban problems all over the country.

We complain about every day life in Lebanon all the time. Do we ever stop and wonder where so many of our problems come from? These problems…those related to our health, related to the discomforts of every day living, those related to our budgets, as we don’t economize in an eco-friendly fashion…are not due to the U.S., Iran, Russia, Israel, or the international tribunal. These are OUR problems. We caused them. So tell me, are going to hide behind “this is Lebanon” and pretend that we have no responsibility in these matters?

We used to be known as “Lebanon the Green” and “The Paris of the Middle East.” What are we known for now?

My fellow Lebanese, are we going to allow this state of affairs to continue? Are we? This is our home, our land. It is up to us to rehabilitate it. So come on, let’s get started. Let’s be innovative. It’s time for us to participate in beach clean-ups, tree-planting, and advocating for eco-friendly policies. It’s time for us to adopt more eco-friendly behavior, like saving water at home, carpooling, growing plants on our rooftops and/or balconies, using sources of renewable energy, and more. It won’t change overnight, but it’s got to start somewhere. Damn straight, this is Lebanon. This is our home, our country, our nation. Are we willing to let it go to ruin? Is this what we want to live in? I don’t think so.  So let’s effect positive change. We can do it, Lebanon!!!