Horsh Beirut, a 25,000 square meter park that contains the majority of Beirut’s green space, has been closed to the public for 15 years. The Municipality of Beirut has prohibited access to the park for fear of vandalism and poor maintenance. Officially, regulations state that any Lebanese over 30 years old with permission and foreigners are allowed in the park. In reality, granting access is selective and only those who appear to be wealthy or are western foreigners are allowed to enter. This could be changing though as the NGO NAHNOO have received permission not usually granted by the municipality to open the park to the public on August 30 from 6 to 9 pm. The event is advertised as a picnic with live music.
As the Middle East suffers from drought caused by weather patterns and climate change, a population in the region has been enduring water shortages for years. The culprit in this case is human. Since the beginning of the occupation of Palestine, Israel has controlled and limited the Palestinian access to water. Israel controls the water resources and uses over 80% of water pumped from the mountain aquifer which is located in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Palestinians have an annual quota of water set by Israel and they are not allowed to dig any new water wells. The figure below shows the difference water consumption between Palestinians and Israelis. While Palestinian consumption is well below the 100 liters per capita per day recommended amount set by the World Health Organizations, Israel’s declared consumption per capita is almost double that. Continue reading
A research team at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut has been conducting investigations on algae along the Lebanese coast. The goal of these activities is to identify various types of algae that could provide a source for nutrition and renewable energy. The research is part of a larger EU-funded project that aims to identify potential sources of renewable energy in Lebanon and other countries on the Mediterranean (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Egypt). The research found that some of the algae were an excellent source of protein and other nutritional supplements. The preliminary results seem promising, as high levels of omega-3 and anti-oxidants were found in micro algae off the coast of Byblos. The potential for renewable energy is still not clear. Continue reading
The Arab world is one of the world’s most water scarce and dry regions and extremely vulnerable to climate change. While the influence of climate change on the current drought is not conclusive, many scientists predict irregular weather patterns including drought, flooding, rising sea level, among others. This will have major implications on food security and could cause famine and poverty in the region. The Arab population could face severe water stress causing massive migration. In Lebanon, sea level rise could displace 2 million people and cause $35 billion in damages. Continue reading
Lebanon faces a myriad of environmental challenges; most notably is the mismanagement of its natural resources. Water suffers from river pollution, groundwater contamination and sea pollution. The drought over the past few years has intensified and water shortage has lead to calls for declaring a state of water emergency. Forests in Lebanon are not spared either; in the last 40 years forest cover throughout the country has been reduced by 35%. Forest fires and illegal logging of trees are the main culprits. Many illegal stone quarries are operating throughout Lebanon extracting stone, but even the legal ones have caused damage to surrounding ecosystems. Continue reading
Tara Expedition is a French non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research of the sea and has, since its inception, conducted various expeditions to the arctic researching a myriad of topics such as plastic pollution, air pollution and ocean color and composition. Over the past ten years, Tara conducted extensive research on various aspects of the sea and how it is affected by climate change. Their latest expedition, Tara Méditerranée, will investigate the Mediterranean Sea to study plastic pollution and raise awareness on environmental challenges in the region. Continue reading
One of the main adverse environmental impacts from Sidon’s “garbage mountain” had been the deterioration of marine life along that stretch of the coast, as nitrogen and heavy metals were spilling into the sea waters. About a month ago, through a UNDP and Ministry of Environment project, the garbage was removed and buried in a sanitary landfill nearby. A 2,200 meter long seawall was also constructed to protect the ecological environment. Continue reading