Category Archives: Environment in the news

Smoke from flawed agriculture practices covers Lebanon’s north

Waste-bonfire

Source: Kingshay

Every year Lebanese farmers trim their pear and other fruit trees in mid September to prepare for the apple season. During this period, the farmers have developed a habit of burning the agricultural waste produced during the trimming process t as a way of disposing of them. This results in white smoke covering the skyline over many villages in the north and residents complaining about the practice. Some are suggesting adopting more environmentally sound methods, such as using the waste as fertilizer.

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Unsustainable waste disposal practices have all contributed to the larger waste problem of Lebanon. One way to help alleviate this problem is to make use of the agricultural waste instead of throwing it away. There are already businesses that buy recycled plastic and metal and it seems reasonable to assume that creating industries that use agricultural waste could be a profitable way to get rid of this waste. The agricultural fibers found in the waste could be used to create paper or construction materials such as load bearing walls. Cogeneration facilities could create electricity and steam from a wide range of agricultural waste such as pits from fruits and tree prunings. There are many other examples around the world. Of course to implement such industries, a lot of research will need to be conducted to determine the most suitable use of the agricultural waste produced in Lebanon. Considering the local state of the economy and environment, now is the perfect opportunity to undertake such ventures.

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Will additional freshwater resources really solve Lebanon’s water problems?

chekka

Source: Skyscraper City

The Lebanese government is considering the possibility of extracting fresh water from springs under the Chekka Bay. The proposal to the government was submitted by the Civic Influence Hub, the lobby group behind the Blue Gold Project. According to the proposal the water extracted from the sea will help alleviate the country’s water shortage and reduce extraction of groundwater from the inland. The cost of this project is estimated at $472,000 and would take about 42 days to complete. The project entails an assessment of the springs to be conducted with the Lebanese Navy, cleaning the sea floor, pumping soil out of the area and installing water capture devices on the sea floor and a pumping station to deliver water inland. Dr. Nadim Farajalla, an environmental hydrologist at the American University of Beirut, argued that although the springs are a good source of water, reducing water waste (fixing pipes and preventing people from washing sidewalks) would be a cheaper alternative. Continue reading

AUB investigates renewable energy source along the Lebanese coast

algae

Source: Panoramio

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

Combatting climate change and investing in the energy sector in Lebanon: a win-win situation

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

Akkar struggles with environmental degradation

akkar

Source: How Stuff Works

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 Méditerranée docks in Beirut

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

Removal of Sidon’s “garbage mountain” reaps immediate rewards

Saida_International_Stadium_with_beachgoers

Source: Wikipedia

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