Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I have news to share about capital city, Beirut.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, research shows that our city is alarmingly polluted. While only 3% of our capital is made up of green spaces (an environmental problem that has large ramifications),  pollution caused mostly by car emissions has reached two-thirds over the global standard. In a study conducted by researchers at USJ which was published in July, air samples were gathered by 52 machines that sampled the air quality throughout the city over 24 weeks in 2010. Nitrogen dioxide levels averaged 53 micrograms per cubic meter, and reached as high as 67 in the most polluted areas of central Beirut. The global limit set by the WHO (World Health Organization) is 40.

Lebanon, this is really bad news for us. Such pollution causes respiratory diseases, cardiac diseases, cancers, and increases other health risks. It also creates a form of smog that can damage sensitive vegetation–which we sorely lack. “Lebanon the Green” is turning into “Lebanon the Gray.”

Typically, such problems are supposed to be solved by government-planned environmental policy. Given the fact that our government is weak, corrupt, and inefficient, I do not expect plans to improve the environment to come from them–much less be enforced. I cannot help but wonder if our politicians have wondered whether or not they can count their money while holding their breath. 

Fortunately, there are some things that we can do. We can carpool. We can use public transport. We plan our trips such that we use minimal gas. We can turn our cars off if we are stuck in traffic for long periods of time. We can walk from place to place if the weather and distance permit. My fellow Lebanese, our city is turning into an unlivable health hazard. We cannot allow this to continue. The rate of cancer in Lebanon increases by 5% annually. We need to make a difference–and we can do it if we want to.