Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m going to show you a few images of something that really ticks me off.

Those enormous gaping holes in the middle of beautiful green mountains are the result of illegal rock quarrying. Little is done about these environmental disasters by our politicians. Indeed, some of our politicians own these businesses, and will do anything to protect their illegal enterprises. For example, when LBC tried to capture illegal rock quarrying going on in Bekaatouta, the owner of the quarry tried to attack them by running them over with a stone-laden truck. Coincidentally, he turned out to be the head of the muncipality. As punishment, the government shut down the quarry for three weeks, and later re-opened it. The owner never faced any consequences for attacking the journalists. Fun.

Nor is this an incident done in isolation. The Green Party sent a photographer to take pictures of an illegal quarry site in  Aindara. The owners captured him, locked him in a  container for three hours under the sun, took him out and then threatened to kill him. This quarry was also shut down for three weeks and reopened, with no consequences for those who attacked the photographer.

Does anyone notice a trend here? It’s as though the activists are the criminals in this game.

The number of illegal rock quarries in Lebanon range between 700-1300. And it’s no small wonder; these raw materials sell at $15 to $30 per cubic meter.  This profitable business can be carried out through methods that are environmentally sustainable, but most of them are not.What makes this problem more difficult is that their regulation falls between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of the Interior. I can’t help but wonder what difference it makes, as most quarries are illegal anyway.

My fellow Lebanese, the real problem is that the illegal rock quarries are largely either owned or backed by politicians themselves, be they at the local or national level. No one is calling for an end to rock quarrying; they could do it in a way that is environmentally sustainable and they could still generate substantial profits. Yet they refuse.  This is unsurprising, as the demoralization of our government and their complete failure to do right by the environment is widespread. I can’t help but wonder what air they think they breathe; after all, they live in Lebanon too. But perhaps their money and status gives them the right to rape our countryside…or so they think, anyway.

My fellow Lebanese, we can’t remain silent while the people we elect to represent us and regulate our country destroy our environment with no consequences. These people have to be made accountable to someone. It’s time for us to find out who owns these places and launch a public humiliation campaign. This alone will probably not stop them, but it will cause pressure for public accountability. This is our country, and we will not bend over backwards while corrupt money-stuffed politicians rape it for their own personal profit. It’s time for us to assert ourselves and claim what is ours. We can do it, Lebanon!!!