I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment recently..mainly because for the first time in my life, I’m aware of the car fumes I’m breathing in everyday (and the almost immediate resultant headaches), the horrific stench of Beirut river (the sewage that flows from Hazmieh to Quarantina), and the piles of garbage lying on the streets and floating in the sea..
Yes.. I am aware of the numerous organizations like IndyAct, Save Beirut Heritage, and Public Design Intervention: Beirut, who are all lobbying for change, and who willingly volunteer their time, efforts, and resources to support sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives in Beirut..
And YES while these are very worthy causes that I whole heartedly support..I think something important is being overlooked: the fact that many of the people who are contributing heavily to the pollution problem in Beirut 1. are not aware of how much harm they are causing the environment and 2. even if they were, they don’t have the means to fix it. (This is excluding industrial factory owners, land developers, and urban planners who really should know better, and make a mockery of the law by blatantly defying it.)
I think I became aware of this problem when I was complaining about everyone’s really bad brakes in Lebanon, and asking my friends how people could let their brakes get soo bad and soo noisy.. To which they would reply, “Really Danielle, these people can barely afford to pay for their gas, and you expect them to fix their brakes?!”
But, for one second, let me reign this back in..and get back to the point..
Can I, or anyone for that matter, really expect the service driver, who I’m paying less than $1 to take me to and from work everyday to give a damn about the harm his 30 year old Mercedes Benz is causing the environment..when likely he has other, more immediate worries on his mind? And what about the other 30,000 taxi drivers JUST LIKE HIM!
And let’s just say for one second.. that Lebanon does manages to institute a public transportation system..what will happen to these taxi drivers who depend on us for their very livelihood, what will they do? And how difficult will it be to implement a public transportation system in a country who’s society is soo obsessed with defining themselves through material possessions, especially their cars?? I’m not saying that it will never happen, but realistically speaking, I don’t see it happening any time soon..
The situation requires a more immediate solution.
What is this “immediate” solution I so loftily speak of? Well..in my humble opinion, in a case like this..we cannot expect the pollution problem in Beirut to resolve itself, nor can we depend on people, who have been living in this destructive manner for the majority of their lives, to suddenly change their behavior to save something as intangible (to them) as “the environment!”….
The government MUST institute regulations regarding CO2 emissions.. and people must be forced to comply if Beirut is to continue to prosper..and for those who simply cannot afford to comply, the government must provide an alternative solution!! Ok, so maybe just maybe, my solution is as lofty an ideal as expecting all of Beirut to start riding bicycles..but really, what do you think is the best solution?
How can such a grave problem continue to be ignored by legislators? I don’t understand it? The very livelihood of Beirut depends on it.