Tag Archive: renewable energy


Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you’ve been following the news, then you probably already know that on Monday, our ministry did not reach an agreement regarding the allocation of $1.2 billion to the Ministry of Energy in order to invest in the new oil-drilling project. Those who opposed giving the money to the ministry did so on the basis that doing so would give Gibran Bassil access to it without any committee or oversight ensuring his accountability. In response,  Michel Aoun threatened that his ministers would quit from Cabinet if an agreement did not come to pass. Given that Michel Aoun has the largest care of cabinet seats, Prime Minister Najib Mikati is expected to back down on this issue if only for the sake of maintaining our already-fragile government. 

Lebanon, the state of our government is such that it is willing to risk closure over financial allocations over this project. Nor is this the only political problem that the future oil-drilling project presents. The area that is rich in oil and gas resources is 850 square kilometers off the coast between Israel and Lebanon. This adds yet another point of contention betwee the two countries, as both lay claim to it. While the U.N. is in the process of demaricating the borders (as they should; each country should know its land and maritime borders) the political scenario surrounding this project does not bode well.

To break it down politically, we plan on drilling oil in a disputed area in order to use non-renewable sources of energy that will cause our environment harm. This is in spite of the fact that this issue has brought such fracture to our government that it risks dissolution. We will also be using an Iranian company to drill the oil and will be receiving natural gas from Iran, which increases our dependence on a foreign nation for our basic needs. Does anyone else see a problem here?

On an environmental level, drilling for oil and using fossil fuels for energy creates air  and water pollution, hurts plants and animal life, creates toxic waste, and causes global warming. By virtue of polluting our land, air, and sea, such methods also poses severe health risks for humans. Fossil fuels are also a non-renewable source of energy, and before long we will need another source to generate electricity from; in sum, the $1.2 billion will not be a permanent investment. Regardless of your political affiliation, these are factors to consider when discussing the oil-drilling project.

Fortunately, there are alternative solutions that are more eco-friendly, cheaper, and far less politicized. If we invest in solar technology, we have much to gain. After all, the sun is for free, and using it at a source of energy means we will never be subject to the ups and downs of energy markets. We will also never have to rely on foreign powers for our energy needs. Moreover, it is a clean alternative to the fossil fuels that will pollute our air and water even further. Using solar energy will also prevent the health risks that oil drilling and the use of oil for energy purposes will have on us. As a country that has 300 sunny days out of 365, it is a worthwhile investment! Regardless of your political affiliation, we can all agree that we need a clean country and want to protect and improve our health and political independence.  This is the way to an energy-independent and clean future:

 My fellow Lebanese, we can do it if we want to!!

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Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Today I’m going to discuss Lebanon in comparison to its Arab neighbors. Actually, one in particular. Our principal competitor…the UAE.

Lebanon, we have always prided ourselves on being “different.” In many ways we are. We use English, Arabic, and French fluently. Beirut is the fourth city in the world for nightlife. Our literacy rates for both men and women are in the 90% ranges. We have a strong educated professional class, and have no lack of human capital. Our  country features everything from historic sites from the Phoenician, Roman, and Ottoman times, to the beach, snowy slopes, to natural reservations. In spite of our cosmpolitanism we also have quaint Lebanese villages that preserve our authentic character. We claim to be resilient, close to our families, and profess a strong sense of patriotism. We claim to be more modern, more open, and more sophisticated than our regional neighbors.  

As a country that benefits from tourism, we often compare ourselves to the UAE. We the Lebanese say that we have cultural heritage, whereas in the UAE they have modern buildings and fabulous shopping, but that’s it. We also say that we have better nightlife, and that the UAE is full of foreign workers, but we have our own working population. We pride ourselves on being different and Lebanese, as we should. All citizens should be proud of their nations, irrespective of where they are from.

That said, the UAE, for all its modernity, has something we refuse to invest in: urban planning and the use of renewable energy. In the UAE, solar panels are used on all government buildings. Solar-based ACs and solar panels for electricity are also widely used in the private sector. It makes sense for them to harvest such a natural resource; it’s clean, it’s renewable, and in the long run, cheaper than petrol. Nor does it stop there. In Abu Dhabi, there is a plan to create Masdar City: an entire city that functions on renewable energy sources. While has not reached completion, it is underway, and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. For more about Masdar City, follow this link:  http://www.masdar.ae/en/Menu/index.aspx?MenuID=48&CatID=27&mnu=Cat 

Lebanon, we might not have the space to create our own city that is based on renewable energy, but we are definitely able to rehabilitate and modernize our existing infrastructure. We have the skills, the source of renewable energy, and the know-how. Contrary to our beliefs about our modernity, our regional neighbors are actually ahead of us in some aspects. They are implementing urban planning, which prevents over-crowding and the withering of infrastructure. They are using renewable energy, which saves them enormous sums of money in the long run. Meanwhile, we are still focused on using generators and have plans to invest in both our own and Iranian petrol. Why do that, when we can invest in renewable sourves of energy, save the environment, and our budgets?

My fellow Lebanese, it is time we focus on renewable energy. Let us save our environment, reduce our expenditure and personal bills, and work towards our political independence. Solar panels pay for themselves in five years, and after that you save money. At the level of the government, we should be implementing solar energy panels; we have a valuable source. Let us use it!!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Did any of you hear about our latest energy project? An Iranian oil company will soon start drilling in our waters. This is in conjunction with another project (worth $10 million!) where we will receive electricity from Iran in five years time. 

Lebanon, this is indicative of a political trend, which, regardless of your political affiliations, cannot be good for the country. It leads to political marginalization on the international level, and our dependency on a larger power. |As a country where we have roughly 300 sunny days out of 365, we have a source of clean, renewable energy that pays for itself with time. Nor is this the only source of renewable energy available for use. Lebanon pledged to invest in hydroelectric power in order to have 20% of our energy come from renewable energy sources. We have fallen short of our pledge.

Now,  we are inviting more foreign intervention, and will be polluting our environment even further. The process of digging for oil, treating it, and eventually, the fumes that will waft through our air from these facilities are devastating, and unnecessary. We have the ability to use renewable energy.

Lebanon, we deserve political independence and a clean environment.  Regardless of your political affiliation, we can all agree that we need to maintain a clean environment, and achieve political independence. We can do this if we invest in sources of renewable energy. We can do it, Lebanon!!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Did anyone see the news tonight? If so, you heard exactly what I heard; politicized comments starting to emerge regarding our electricity.
 
 As many of us know, our parliament passed a bill in August of 2010 which calls for the creation of a treasury and a committee to oversee the exploration and oil drilling in Lebanese waters. Currently, the maritime borders of Lebanon, Israel, and Cyprus are being studied by the U.N. for this purpose; to decide to the water and economic rights of each country. It is essential that each country know its rights and borders.  That said, this process is getting hairy. Minister of Energy Gibran Bassil went to Damascus, Syria on Tuesday. Yesterday he was asked as to whether or not President Bashar al-Assad requested that Lebanon “grant the priority” to a Russian company interested in Lebanon’s oil resources. He replied that President Assad did not ask him about this at all. 
 
Where the truth of the matter is we do not know. What we do know, however, is that oil drilling can have devasting effects on the sea, on marine life, and is a not a renewable source of energy. We also know that our energy problem is becoming politicized, and that foreign intervention in this matter, be it by Syria, Russia, the U.S., or anywhere else,  will not improve our situation. What we need are clean, renewable sources of energy that come from our own nation. Do we need more political bickering? Do we need more foreign intervention? Do we need more environmental pollution when we have a source of renewable energy right under our noses? 

 
Lebanon, WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED. We have the potential to use solar energy! If an individual installs solar energy panels, the device pays for itself in five years, and then you start to save money. You no longer need a generator, or pay as much for electricity. In addition, if this is widespread and publicly implemented, we spare ourselves the politicized problems we are facing regarding energy. More and more people are installing solar panels, and are better off for it. It is time for us to invest in our own clean resources. We can do it, Lebanon!!

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Did you all just watch the news? If you did, you probably heard what I did; there is a 10 million dollar plan to create a gas pipeline from Iran to Lebanon. This project will take five years to complete.

My fellow Lebanese, regardless of your political affiliation, it is no secret that resources affect a nation’s independence. This is one of the reasons renewable energy resources are so important; we are less dependent on other nations if we have our own sources of energy. In addition, if we use clean energy from renewable sources,  we limit the amount of waste we produce and do not pollute. We can protect our environment, and take care of ourselves politically. There is no going wrong with sources of renewable energy.

At the level of the individual, we can do this by way of installing solar panels for electricity and solar water-heating systems in our homes. These save money, the environment, and energy. For more information on solar energy heaters, follow this link. http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12850

To find out where in Lebanon you can get solar power devices, please follow this link: http://energy.sourceguides.com/businesses/byP/solar/byGeo/byC/Lebanon/Lebanon.shtml

Interestingly, using renewable energy in your home pays for itself in a few years; you actually save money. The reason for this is that although the initial installation can be expensive, you are no longer paying nearly as much for the use of utilities. In addition, the price of utilities is going up. As such, on a financial level, environmental level, and even a political level, investing in a renewable energy source for your house makes sense.   

At the level of policy, if we truly plan on being independent, then it is time for us to develop sustainable renewable energy. If we stay at the  rate that we are now, with only 4% of our energy coming from renewable sources, we will never be able to assert our position as an independent nation. We declared that 20% of our energy would come from renewable sources in 2020, but we are clearly below target. We can do it, Lebanon! Our country is a prime climate for renewable energy, particularly solar energy; ours is typically sunny Mediterranean weather. Indeed, it is usually sunny 300 days of the year. It is time for us to advocate for the development of renewable energy. Given the different environmental NGOs and parties that are available (I will not list them, so as not to appear partisan) there is a platform for our voice. We can do it!

It is no secret that Lebanon has undergone a medley of changes in the past years. It has undergone political assassinations, changes in government, and is subject to chronic regional instability. Now that there is a new government, some regard our future with optimism, others with pessimism and fear. However, one subject of extreme importance has only changed for the worse…the environment. In examining the critical situation of the environment in Lebanon, there are six key issues that should be examined. They are: individual littering and waste of resources, urban congestion, poor waste treatment on a national level, deforestation,  use of fossil fuel energy (as opposed to more eco-friendly sources), and lastly, air pollution. These are problems that exist both at the level of the individual and that of the government.

 The first problem (and one of the most prevalent) is that of individual littering and the waste of resources. All over Lebanon, we see trash on the streets, in empty parking lots, on the beach, even in green places, and leave it to “others” to pick it up. Ironically enough, this is by far and away the easiest problem to solve.  Lebanon has adequate amounts of garbage cans; simply wait until you find one and then dispose of your garbage in the bin. Why throw it on the street? 

Aside from the lack of personal initiative, one of the problems with this is that there is no enforceability of environmental laws in Lebanon. In the United States and places in the European Union, people who are caught littering can be fined. Indeed, in the state of Nebraska, a repeat offender can be fined for over $1,000 and jailed for up to 90 days.  While this might seem extreme, it is time that we have enforceable laws that ensure that citizens do not pollute their nation.

As for personal waste, these are environmental tips that are so simple and will save people money. Little things like shutting off your water while brushing your teeth, not taking extra-long showers, turning off the light when you leave the room, printing on both sides of the page,  or removing battery-run devices once they are done charging (as opposed to leaving them connected the charger) will save you both money and resources. Avoiding excess packaging, or buying things you can re-use (such as using a mug at work as opposed to plastic cups for water) also help. These seem trivial, but they do add up.

As for the second topic…urban congestion, this is a problem where fault lies with both nationals and the government. All over the country, buildings are constructed carelessly, causing deforestation and environmental damage. Interestingly, many of these buildings remain empty upon completion.  This problem has multiple dimensions, but must first be dealt with by having the government restrict the amount of construction licenses that are issued and placing a cap on the price of real estate for existing buildings. At the level of the government, all over the world there are zoning areas that allow a certain amount of buildings (and a certain type of building…you cannot have a nightclub in a residential area, for example) per area. We should implement this to avoid over-congestion. At the level of the individual, it would be both environmentally friendly and less expensive to use existing buildings (or repair older ones) rather than build from scratch. We need urban planning.

In conjunction with this, there is the problem of deforestation. At this point, our forests, once 35% of the country, are now 13%. We used to be called “Lebanon the Green.” Do we still  deserve this title? Aside from removing trees for construction purposes and rock quarries, trees are used to create paper products and furniture. While inevitably we need paper products, there are ways to have ecologically managed forests (when a tree is cut down, planting another in its place, as well as alternating where forests are used for such purposes are just two of many methods) to do this efficiently. We can also buy brands that are ecologically friendly; for example, Kimberly Clark (aka Huggies, Kotex, and Kleenex) use ecologically managed forests for their paper products. In addition, with the use of technology, there is less of a need to print out documents and the like. We should use these tools to our advantage.

Perhaps one of our most critical problems is our poor waste management. At the level of the individual, we waste by not reducing the amount of waste we produce and not re-using what we can. At the governmental level, our waste management entails having sewers that flood the Mediterranean sea, landfills, and garbage incineration. 90% of our waste goes into the sea, and 57% of it goes in untreated.

There are far better ways of dealing with environmental waste. The first is recycling paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum.  While there are Sukleen cans available on the street, many people do not even know what they are for, as there has yet to be a strong public awareness campaign about the issue. This can be initiated by starting a public plan for awareness about recycling on several media levels. Recycling bins could be made mandatory in all public offices and schools, and could move into private schools.  The second way to deal with waste management is to create compost. For food products that go to waste, these can be turned into fertilizer. In turn, these could be treated as subsidies to farms. This is inexpensive, efficient, and good for the environment and those who work with agriculture. 

Lastly, there are the problems of the use of fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) and air pollution. These two go hand in hand. At the level of the individual, there is the use of public transportation. This is both pertinent to the use of fossil fuels and air pollution. While we have public transportation in Lebanon, many refuse to use it based on the idea that if one has their own car, there is no need for it. All over the world, public transportation is widely available and used. In the United States, there are discounts for students or for those who use public transportation regularly. Although public transportation is inexpensive here, people still prefer to pay increasing amounts for gas and fuel.  There is nothing shameful about using public transport. In addition, we could also use methods such as car-pooling, which is not only environmentally friendly, but a good way to ride with your friends. This reduces the amount of air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels.  

As a country, Lebanon uses fossil fuels which cannot be renewed and pollutes the air with fumes. Instead, there are ways to use clean (and renewable) energy. The three most widely used are solar energy, windmill energy, and hydro-electric power dams. The first two are the most feasible in Lebanon. Lebanon only has 4% of its energy coming from renewable sources, although it pledged to have 20% of its energy come from environmentally friendly sources by 2020. The Ruwayha Eco-Village http://ruwayhaecovillage.com/renewable_energy.html is working to increase awareness about methods of renewable energy in Lebanon and to stop dependence on fossil fuels. This is important for us economically and ecologically. At the level of the individual, installing solar power panels on our buildings pays for itself in a few years, and in the end, one saves both money and energy by using them. At the level of the government, there needs to be more awareness about this issue, and this could be started by installing such panels on all public buildings.   

Our environment has been neglected and abused long enough. Environmental matters are typically left to NGOs, while the vast public and the government do not participate much in this endeavor. Indeed, even Sukleen, our principal source of waste management, is a private company! While environmental progress is a slow process, it is time to start taking the initiative to take of it, and by doing that, ourselves.