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Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you watched the news tonight, then you saw footage of our once-beautiful Nahr el-Kalb. It is completely flooded with sewage, garbage, bottles, litter, and more. According to those who are close by, this once pristine waterway now smells so much that it prevents sleep and comfortable daytime activity. Disease-spreading parasites also buzz around the area, posing health risks for those who are close by. 

Much of this garbage comes from Jeita, Zouk Mosbeh, and other surrounding areas. Enough is enough. Heavily polluted waterways lead to soil pollution, higher rates of cancer, increased rates of parasite-spread disease, polluted crops, and more. For once and for all, our waterways are not garbage dumps. Interestingly, our local government officials are remaining tight-lipped about this issue.

We must advocate for improved methods of trash disposal, and educate our citizens on how to dispose of their waste effectively. We have 12 rivers in Lebanon, and we treat them like the sewers that they are not. It is completely unacceptable to simply flood our waterways with untreated trash. Let us fight for positive change for once. We can do it, Lebanon!  

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Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you watch T.V., then I’m sure that you are familiar with the ads posted by Byblos Bank, indicating that 0.002% of our land is populated by cedar trees–our national symbol. In the past, there were ads about car-caused air and noise pollution. These are examples of corporate responsibility–businesses participating in community concerns and spreading awareness about them.

What this should indicate to us is that ours is a shared political space. The effects of corporate responsibility are widespread. Firstly, spreading awareness is more immediate. Secondly, citizens are able to participate in eco-friendly business initiatives, and support eco-friendly companies. We are able to respond to them, and engage in social causes. The positive ripple effect of corporate responsibility is large, and those who engage in it should be rewarded. 

If you own a small business, or are able to effect positive change in such a fashion, please do so. You will be serving your country, and winning over customers who approve of your initiative. Let us each do what we can to improve our socio-environmental scene!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Given the circumstances, I’m sure we’ve all been better, what with our recent suicide bombings in Dahr al-Baydar and Tayouneh. That’s where our attention is, and for understandable reasons. However, I will leave the online analysis of this to others for the time being. I would like to report on a positive civil society initiative that has been around for sometime, but that we have not been taking advantage of: supermarket recycling.

If any of you shop at Spinney’s, then I’m sure you have seen two rather large machines. Should you bring your plastic bottles or aluminum cans and feed them into the machine, you will get points that add into store credit. Once you get enough points, you get free water. This initiative has been around for sometime, but few people take advantage of it.

Such civil society initiatives are taking place worldwide. Indeed, in Taiwan, some stores allow trading recyclable items for purchases (ex: a dead laptop which could be recycled for grocery items). We should be proud that Lebanon has joined this trend!

When discussing this with others, I am often told that it would be embarrassing to bring such items into a supermarket. I cannot help but wonder if a polluted environment and increasing rates of cancer are more dignified. That is not an excuse.

Another one of the reasons we claim not to recycle is because there are no nearby stations. Yet, we clearly have an option–dropping it off at the supermarket. Let us take advantage of this.  Let us try to mend our environment and dispose of our waste appropriately. This is an easy option which requires no additional effort–we all go to the supermarket, don’t we? Let’s do it, Lebanon!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. On March 8th, 2014, the demonstration in support for legal protection from domestic violence will occur from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, starting from Madhaf to the Palace of Justice. My fellow Lebanese, we must back this initiative in support of our mothers, sisters, friends–of ourselves, for that matter. Indeed, for the improvement of our society, we must push for the protection of Lebanese women. We pride ourselves on being the most socially advanced in the Arab world, yet think of the women who have been brutally murdered by their husbands recently: Christelle Abou Chakra, Manal Assi, Fatima Bakkour, and Roula Yaacoub. The law failed to protect them. It is up to us to push for the protection of our rights, our bodies, and our safety. We can do it, Lebanon!!!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure you’ve all noticed the severe drought that we’ve experienced this winter. Lebanon, normally a country that experiences regular rainfall, has experienced little to none this year. Indeed, we have not experienced a drought such as this one in 140 years. Last year, Beirut’s rainfall was an average 455 millimeters, and this year it is a mere 235 millimeters. Apparently there is a jet stream 11,000-12,000 meters above our little  country that is preventing cold storms from reaching us. 

Droughts are a natural occurrence, and we have had them before. We had droughts in the 1880s, in the early 1940s, in 1986, and in the mid-1990s. However, the amount of pollution and climate change that we are experiencing makes drought situations such as these difficult to fix. When we burn trash, tires, aerosols, and more, the rain-clouds shift, thereby reducing our ability to enjoy rain. At this point, our air is heavily polluted, and we do not dispose of our trash appropriately. While many do not think to associate burning trash with drought, there is a direct relationship between the two, and the result is obvious.

We need to improve our air quality, reduce emissions by way of production and excess car exhaust, and find better ways to improve our solid waste disposal. Otherwise, we will not recover from our critical situation. 

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we have received very little rainfall this winter. While  droughts naturally occur from time to time, ours is exceptional. Here’s the interesting part–there is no discussion as to why it is occurring.

Deforestation is heavily related to drought. This may sound strange, but trees are largely responsible for water regulation. Plants and trees release water into the air, a process called evapotranspiration. Without plants and trees, there is little evapotranspiration–less water is being released into the air, which means less evaporated water is being turned into rain. Lebanon, once over 30% forest, is now below 13%. Our rainfall has changed accordingly.

My fellow Lebanese, our country is experiencing crisis at all levels. Politically, economically, socially, environmentally–you name it, we’ve got it. However, we cannot continue to develop haphazardly. We need to find a way, Lebanon.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If  you have been following the news, then you know that the Lebanese branch of the Syrian Nusra Front carried out a car suicide-bomber attack in Hermel, wounding 4 people and injuring 21. After claiming responsibility for the attack, they stated that they conducted this attack in order to discourage Hezbullah from sending fighters into Syria.

Lebanon, I do not know what to say anymore. I do not know what can cause this political violence. Realistically speaking, I do not know that the polite requests of civilians to cease violence will be effective when addressing militant groups.

We try our best to turn the other way in order to effectively go on with our lives the best way we can, but God help us…whenever we have a bit of time to breathe, another explosion goes off. How are we ever going to recover?

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. The Naameh landfill is closed again. In my neck of the concrete (there is no need to use the expression “neck of the woods”–images related to forestry are not applicable), the 48 hour opening period made no difference, as my neighborhood’s trash was never collected. After driving around today it actually wasn’t collected in a lot of places all over Beirut and Mt. Lebanon. Either way, the protesters have decided that the dumpsite remain closed until a comprehensive plan is presented to them. 

What I find interesting is that this creates the immediate need for governing bodies to act. For this to happen, cabinet needs to be formed. Who would have thought that environmental protesters would have highlighted the need for government in a few days in a way that other methods have not? I  certainly hope this happens soon, as our streets are becoming more and more polluted by the minute. Furthermore, leaving trash untreated allows for the fast spread of disease. This happens through direct exposure to germs from trash, and through infection by bugs that are attracted to trash. If the trash is left there in the long run, the waste could get into our soil and ground-water, and create soil and water that is no longer fit for human use. 

My fellow Lebanese, I wish I had something good to report lately. All I can say is that we are at rock bottom at this point. No government, no trash collection, no peace, no security…but you know all of this. Given our considerable room for improvement, I can only hope that we will take the hint and not continue our race to the bottom. Let’s hope that this problem–and others–gets solved soon!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure you’ve all heard about our latest explosion–the sixth in less than four weeks. A suicide bomber in a car conducted the attack, killing four people and wounding 31 others. According to the news, the Lebanese branch of Nusra Front claims this attack. 

My fellow Lebanese, we are disintegrating in a fashion that is unprecedented. Enough of this. Haven’t we had enough? The explosions are occurring in a Sunni-Shi’ite tit-for-tat fashion. Who is paying the price? Civilians. Children. People who did not ask to be a part of this conflict. None of them are martyrs–the term martyr implies that they were conscious and willing to die for a political cause. They were victims.

Let us stop for a minute and examine our country. It’s falling apart and our people are exhausted. If we keep this enough we will no longer have the psychological space for hope! Enough of this, Lebanon! 

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. The protesters outside of the Naameh Landfill have been quite active.

Yesterday, Tammam Salam negotiated a deal, requesting that the protesters in front of the Naameh Landfill allow the road leading to the dump to be open for 48 hours after promising that a solution will be found, and that a committee will be created to address environmental issues once cabinet was created. At first, the protesters accepted the deal, then they rejected it. Today on the news, it appears as though the deal went through, and the road is open for 48 hours.

I cannot confirm if this true or not, as the trash is still piled high in my neighborhood.

In any case, I cannot remember an environmental protest that has had such profound effects within days. This should indicate to all of us that we cannot allow our waste mismanagement to continue. There is much we can do with it. We can recycle a lot of it (and we have recycling plants, although they are not operational). We can process our non-recyclable waste much more effectively. Believe it or not, we have solid waste management plants that are not operational.

We can even create biofuels and generate electricity from our biodegradable waste. Given that we spend 18-20 hours a day on generator power, we could certainly use eco-friendly and cost-effective energy generation. We would both pay less and pollute less. Alternatively, to boost our agricultural sector, we could convert our biodegradable waste into mulch or organic fertilizers.  This is an inexpensive process, and a timely product, considering the state of agricultural sector at the present.

Come on, my fellow Lebanese. Let’s think about what good we could do with our waste. It’s about time we start thinking about the good we could do with our waste.

Dumping it is insufficient, and forcing citizens to accommodate five times the designated amount (it was set up to accommodate 2 million tons, the dumpsite actually accommodates 10 million) is completely unacceptable. I hope this is resolved in a fashion that is both environmentally friendly and sustainable.