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Hope is not a plan

Our leaders seem fine to do nothing while we suffer the consequences

by Yasser Akkaoui

They say ignorance is bliss, so let’s indulge.

Let’s ignore that global temperatures are rising — albeit at a slower pace since 1999. Let’s ignore that springtime snow cover in the northern hemisphere has dropped 2 percent per decade since 1996. Let’s also ignore the possibility that an El Niño event this winter could make the ski season warmer than average in Lebanon. Finally, let’s not forget to ignore what we’ve all seen for the past few years — dirt paths snaking down from the mountaintop in Faraya in January. If we ignore the problem and hope for the best this coming winter, everything will work itself out.

Not buying it? Neither am I. The Ministry of Energy and Water, however, must be headquartered in a place where hopes and wishes are just as effective as sound policy and proper resource management. Consequences be damned, they’re drilling more wells to deal with the current water shortage, putting blind faith in the fact that — sure as the sun rises — it will rain this winter. And snow. In abundance. Unless it doesn’t. And then we’re in even bigger trouble.

I wonder how many elected officials take two trips to the roof each day to check how much water they have. I wonder how many look disappointedly at the trickle of state supplied water that comes for a few hours every other day. How many let the laundry pile up so they can use the toilet and wash their hands. How many worry about the quality of expensive, untreated, untested, privately delivered water as they brush their teeth in the morning. I wonder what they go without to afford a second water bill. I wonder if they even care.

It sure seems like they don’t. Water scarcity has always been an end-of-summer problem in Lebanon, yet plans to address the problem have only been haphazardly implemented. Our leaders monitor neither snowfall nor groundwater, yet try to convince us that some time in the future, they will be able to properly manage what they don’t measure. It is quite likely that this year is a portent of things to come, rather than an anomaly. Climate change is a reality. And while it is too early to predict exactly what it will mean for Lebanon, wise leaders would be preparing for the worst. Our leaders, on the other hand, seem content to do nothing while we all suffer the consequences.

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Yasser Akkaoui

Yasser Akkaoui is Executive's editor-in-chief.

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