Lebanese? Give up their cars for bikes? Naaaahhh..

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..

IndyAct Beirut

IndyAct Campaign photo credit: cache.dailylife.com

public transportation in Lebanon

Fast Forward - campaign for Public Transportation in Lebanon photo credit: Fast Forward Facebook page

Sustainable Lebanon

Campaign "Enjoy your green space" by Nadine Feghaly and Dima Boulad photo credit: Design Intervention Beirut Facebook page.

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!”….

Air pollution Beirut

Pollution in Beirut photocredit: bloggingbeirut.com

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.



Filed under life in Lebanon

7 responses to “Lebanese? Give up their cars for bikes? Naaaahhh..

  1. ahhh pollution and climate change and alternative energy and recycling and trying to make a change and having a stupid environment minister, well let’s not be too harsh on Lebanon.. we saw what happened in copenhagen

    let’s stick to beirut. we are allowed to build the whole 100% space of the land we buy.. so kudos, not one tree will be left.

    Who gives a damn about trees, its not like they sustain us with oxygen 😉

    good round-up

  2. Actually giving up their cars for bikes is happening. I know three people, a director, DOP and a producer who have done it and they’re loving it. They only use their cars when they are traveling away from the city or up to the mountains but as long as they are in beirut, achrafieh, and the area around it they travel only on bikes. Not really to save the environment but just with traffic and lack of parking its the best form of transportation.

  3. Lebanon emits 1000 tonnes of CO2 every 32 minutes…More details here: http://www.breathingearth.net/

    You can easily compare with other countries, good thing I remembered that link today


  4. The environment problem in lebanon is kinda like the chicken and the egg, who should act first: people or legislation ?
    There’s a lot of corruption in government, and that’s one of the reasons why you can, as Liliane pointed out, there’s no restriction on the amount of concrete you can put on a piece of land, and then you wonder how come Beirut isn’t that green (anymore?).
    I’ve been trying to work with the Fast Forward people, and to be honest I think their whole approach is flawed. I sincerely hope they can make a change, but I just wouldn’t bet my money on it, at least not with their current way of doing things.
    If you want to promote clean transportation, Beirut is the wrong place to expect people to use the bike on a daily basis. Why ?
    Drivers are mad, when it rains it pours, when it’s sunny it’s impossible to bike anywhere without needing a shower straight afterwards, and the Lebanese care too much about their image. Biking is a solution, it’s just addressed to the wrong context.
    Hell I live in Sweden and I bike a lot, I’m not much of an “image-concerned” kinda guy, and I still wouldn’t think of biking in Beirut, it’s just not convenient.
    Now to comment on your conclusion, I think the solution lies outside of regulating emissions. Of course this is a must, but it’s not the solution. What we need is an entire framework for public transportation in Lebanon, to ease traffic, and to make people trust it, feel safe, and save money. Saving the planet will kinda turn out to be a bi-product of that, because ultimately, people are self-interested, and whatever eco-friendly alternative we have in mind should first and foremost answer their needs.

  5. Mok

    You should have came to Darreja.. it was pretty cool.

  6. Pingback: World Travel Tours » Cabbies may face test of English skills

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