August 18, 2006


Ok - Rachel was encouraging me to write something impassioned – and here it is.

The first map (with the yellow colors) shows the extent of the oil spill off Lebanon’s coast. And, yes, I agree that the main concern right now should be a lasting cease fire to stop the loss of life. However, the fact that this spill has gained little to no American media attention is VERY disturbing. And what little attention it has gained is dismissive, at best.

For a country that is so entrenched in our oil-guzzling ways, I would think that a spill of this magnitude (30,000 TONS of heavy fuel oil) would spark some kind of response – if nothing more than to say “hey – that’s oil we could’ve used!” It seems, however, that the greater disaster of essentially poisoning that portion of the Mediterranean Sea, the destruction of a fragile ecosystem and the largely dismissed “where to place blame” game, has failed to capture most of the American populations attention.

Greenpeace has posted on their website the following:


Oil slick and environmental consequences of conflict in the Middle East

While our immediate concern and sympathy lies with the injured, the displaced and the families of the victims of this conflict, long term environmental damage is an inevitable consequence of war.Greenpeace is calling for an immediate cease fire and an end to the violence and environmental destruction.

We also call for efforts to establish long lasting regional stability and peace. This would also allow urgent and needed humanitarian aid to reach all parts of Lebanon, and for the UN Environment Programme, the World Health Organization and others to begin assessing the environmental damage caused by the bombing.

In the case of the heavy oil flowing into the sea from the bombed storage tanks at the Jiyyeh power station, 30 km south of Beirut, the most important priority is to prevent any further leakage and destruction and which could potentially spread to the entire east Mediterranean coastline.View maps of the current oil pollution.

In the short term the Lebanese authorities are in urgent need of assistance to stem and control the flow of the oil onto its beaches and into its fishing grounds. In the longer term it could take between 6 and 12 months to clean up the oil from some 100 km of Lebanon's coastline. The spill is especially threatening since fish spawn and sea turtles nest on Lebanon's coast, including the green turtle which is endangered in the Mediterranean.

Greenpeace urges the international community to work to bring an immediate end to the human suffering and the environmental destruction.

I whole-heartedly agree that the International Community should work to help Lebanon in this time of crisis. I realize that our allegiances (as America) fall with Israel – but pollution is not a nation by nation issue. This is a global environmental crisis that needs to be handled as such. 30,000 TONS of oil into a body of water should not qualify as an after thought. The shooting has stopped. The attacks between Lebanon and Israel have stopped (hopefully for good) – now it’s time to get someone in there to stop the attack on the environment!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Wow. I had no idea that had happened. Thanks for posting about it. I'm going to check out the GreenPeace website and see if there is any action I can take (maybe write my Congressmen?).

The first concern in conflict is the loss of human life. However, all too often people overlook the damage war does to the environment - and most don't even care even if they do know what is going on.

Americans are apathetic. They don't care about anything if it doesn't directly affect their lives. It's sad, and very dangerous.

Way to go, Nat, on the impassioned post! You've inspired me to learn more about the oil spill and see if there is anything I can do.