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Lebanon: Fires and Global Warming

Summer forest fires have been erupting in what is left of the Lebanese wilderness for years now. And every year, the blame game is played; starting with parties and politicians blaming each other for not being prepared, to blaming each other for intentionally starting the flames. So, what do the bloggers have to say about this? Read on to find out:

Writing in Arabic, Kadmous discusses the destruction of what is left of Lebanese green areas by fires and blames the institutions of the state for being concerned with less important matters and neglecting such a vital interest:

تتوالى الحلقات السوداء في هذا المسلسل الدرامي الذي لا تبدو نهايته قريبة… وكلّ منطقةٍ من لبناننا نالت حصّةً من التصوير…
النار لا تميّز بين أخضرٍ ويابس… النار لا تفكّر، بل تحرق كلّ شيء لتموت في النهاية مع آخر شجرةٍ تقتلها…
من الذي أطلقها؟ الله أعلم!
كائناً ما كان السبب أو من كان خلفه وأمامه فإنّ ما تبقّى من مساحةٍ خضراء (كي لا نقول مساحات) ينتقل من الحياة إلى الذكرى…
والدولة المشغولة بهموم البيانات وتفسيرها، تخرج عن نطاق صلاحياتها إطفاء النيران… والمال المعطى لوزراء البيئة والزراعة والسياحة والداخلية والعدل والمواصلات والأشغال ولجان مجلس النواب كافةً (منذ الأستقلال وحتى اليوم( لا يكفي لتشغيل ورشةٍ تقطع الطريق على الأسباب التي تجعل كلّ حريقٍ صغيرٍ مدمّراً…

There seems to be no end in sight to the dark episodes of this dramatic sequence… every area in our Lebanon has had its share of photographing… fire does not discriminate between the green and the dry… fire does not think, it burns everything to finally die with the last tree it kills. Who started it? God knows! Whatever or whoever is the reason behind it or in front of it, that doesn’t matter, because what is left of green space (not spaces) is becoming just a memory… and the state that is busy with manifestos and its interpretations, does not have it within its jurisdiction to put out fires… and the money that is given to ministries of agriculture, tourism, interior, justice, transportation, public work, and all parliamentary committees (since independence till today) is not enough to initiate protection projects that will stop small fires from becoming destructive…

Tears for Lebanon too reports on the fires and quotes officials as saying that they were premeditated, in addition to reporting that helicopters from Cyprus were used to help put out the fires:

A huge fire broke out in forests surrounding four villages southeast of Beirut Tuesday consuming thousands of trees.
Civil defense Directorate manager Darwish Hobeika indicated the fires are premeditated, saying they erupted before dawn, which is not normal in summer fires that erupt due to heat.
Civil defense teams, Lebanese Army helicopters and Cypriot helicopters took part in trying to combat the blaze as tongues of flame shot up in the sky and smoke billowed from the slopes overlooking
Beirut.

On a different note, but still within the environment, the Inner Circle writes about how global warming may bring an end to the cedar tree, which is the symbol of the state of Lebanon:

The biggest challenge now for the cedars of Lebanon is climate change,” said Nizar Hani
The cedar’s natural range is now 1,200 to 1,800 metres above sea level, Hani said. A warmer climate would mean cedars could only prosper higher up, where it’s colder.
Cedars once covered vast swathes of southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, but their timber and resin has long been in demand, as indicated by the Epic of Gilgamesh, written in the second millennium BC, and by the Biblical tale of King Solomon importing Lebanese cedar wood for his temple in Jerusalem.

3 comments

  • Roger F

    Watch how fast developers will start building shortly after the fires are out.

  • What a ghastly event(s) – here in California we have been dealing with fires a lot this season – frightening enough – but with the extra degree of perhaps being premeditated is malicious intent indeed. So many natural (and unnatural) disasters that are brought about by careless disregard for management of natural resources.

  • Roger makes an excellent point – didn’t that happen in Indonesia – all those fires set by the Prince so he could use the land for development? Criminal!

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