Monday, April 22nd marked the official Earth Day for 2019. This year, a more pronounced sense of urgency was felt around the world because of the increasing threat of climate change; something Lebanon has been also enduring.
Although the world's general stance towards saving Earth has improved in recent years, many Lebanese citizens are disregarding to endorse it and participate in eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle choices.
And yet, the ominous report made by the United Nations earlier this year can't be taken lightly, or as if there's no concern to us in the homeland.
It is now more crucial than ever to start having a constructive, action-driven conversation about the necessary efforts to correct the damage we have done to the planet; a planet Lebanon is an integral part of.
The UN reported that 2015 to 2018 have been the warmest years on record. This is no coincidence, and science is there to prove it. Fossil fuel emissions, greenhouse gases, changes in water cycles, air composition--all of these are due in large part to human activity.
According to the UN report, if by 2030 we do not reduce the carbon dioxide levels by 45% of what they were 10 years ago, we will not be able to reverse the effects of climate change.
That is a terrifying notion. We are all residents of this planet, and so far, we haven't discovered any other suitable home that can sustain our kind of life forms. Yet, the attitude remains grossly unchanged and apathetic when it comes to making an effort in order to lead a more sustainable life.
Lebanon is not exempt from the developing consequences nor should we be from contributing to the efforts of saving our earth. It may seem like a daunting task, but making small and simple changes at the individual level can amass to a large impact overall. It all starts there, with ourselves.
The Lebanese diet is a friend of sustainability. With so many vegetarian and vegan dishes in the Lebanese cuisine, like hummus, mtabbal, moujadara/moudardara, and so on, it is actually very easy to reduce your consumption of meat.
Raising livestock entails a great number of resources, from agricultural land to water, because of the amount and type of crops that these animals consume.
This, in turn, has an adverse effect on the previously existing ecosystems where the farmland is created. As well, cattle, in particular, release a great deal of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to rising temperatures.
It doesn't mean that you have to eliminate meat completely, but reducing meat consumption, even by two or three meals a week, is one of the best scientifically-deemed methods to minimize our carbon emissions.
Furthermore, it's no secret that the disposal of trash in our country is sub-par. The culture exacerbates this by throwing garbage out of car windows and dumping on any flat area of land by the roadside.
Instead of throwing that plastic bottle on the ground, you can keep it with you a little bit longer until you find a suitable place to dispose of it.
Organizations like Recycle Beirut and Ganatch are making it more convenient for Lebanese residents in Beirut and the surrounding areas by offering home pick-up services of recyclables for a small monthly fee.
Better yet, you can reduce your usage of single-use plastic by turning to more sustainable alternatives like glass or aluminum.
Additionally, you can carpool with family or friends to limit the unnecessary use of an extra vehicle and thus reduce carbon emissions. We all know that enduring traffic is a stressful part of Lebanese life, but why not make it more enjoyable by spending quality time with loved ones?
Moreover, switching more often to bike-riding instead of car riding is healthier for both you and our earth.
The forest was formed one tree at a time, and the beach, a grain of sand at a time. All change starts with one small effort, and we have the power to make it so.
Even though the UN's report may seem troubling, it's not too late, and if we all try a little harder, we can reverse the effects of climate change, as a human race.
Our responsibility, as occupants of Earth and citizens of this awesome homeland, starts here at home, in Lebanon.