Posted by: r.m. | February 19, 2010

cost of environmental destruction?

There is much in the news today – particular in the British ‘The Guardian” about the economic costs of environmental destruction.  Is there such a thing? Can we place a monetary value on the environment, on ecosystems, on animal and plant life, on life itself?

Let’s start here: World’s top firms cause $2.2 trillion of environmental damage, report estimates

But can there be a price tag?…

The price of environmental destruction? There is none. Putting a price on nature becomes meaningless if we treat the ecosystems upon which we depend as mere commodities with a price for trading

Factory pollution

‘There is no wealth but life’ … smoke issues from a factory in Anfeh, Lebanon. Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

(Yes: Anfeh!)

“By putting a price on nature, hopefully it makes it less likely that we will treat the world, and its natural resources, as if it were a business in liquidation. Yet there is a point when it becomes meaningless to treat the ecosystems upon which we depend as mere commodities with a price for trading. For example, what price would you put on the additional tonne of carbon which, when burned, triggers irreversible, catastrophic climate change? Who would have the right to even consider selling off the climate upon which civilisation depends? The avoidance of such damage is literally priceless.”

read the full article

And then there’s this article as well in The Guardian:

Time to clean up: UN study reveals environmental cost of world trade. Political pressure is growing to make big businesses pay for the damage they cause to the environment

Burning oil jets

A UN report due later this year will look into the economic cost of environmental damage. Photograph: JAVIER GALEANO/AP

Check it out as well…



  1. many reports have been made on the increasing incidence of cancer in anfeh and chekka but the government is still not feeling the urge to face the pollution there. Maybe putting a price tag could make them feel the danger of what is happening!
    Enviromental destruction is priceless but since we are living in a world governed by money, evaluating the cost of ecological damage would be a faster solution to reach change than to sensitize governments on the dangers of pollution!

  2. this article surprised me tremendously since i live in that region and i didnt know the danger we are actually facing till now.. i beleive that we must do something to change reality.. i have seen Algor’s movie 3 years ago and i thought that it was i beleive it is true..we must do something..

  3. Sadly, this is true. I would like to clarify something though: the Cementerie Nationale (the factory in the photo) is located actually in Chekka on the northern side of the city, before getting to Anfeh.
    It is sad that we are not combining clinical statistics with proximity to the industrial sites in this region. If we do that, we might get a clear picture of what’s going on.
    NB: no one is talking about the “open air” asbestos pipe storage yard in Chekka, which is more carcinogenic than other pollutants…

  4. i think it is the selfishness of men and their hunger to power and resources that led to this degradation of the quality of the environment.
    my opinion is that this will never change until we arrive to a point where everybody’s life is at close risk then everyone will start caring about environmental damage done during the last three decades.not even numbers nor highlighted statement and slogans will cause men to think about this danger now.
    “Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive”

    -Pope Benedict XVI, July 24, 2007
    check this link:
    (the first part of it)

  5. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” (Cree proverb)

    posted by you DR.

  6. People are lacking awarness. Whatever laws or rules are enforced by the government, they will always find a way to avoid them. Their acts are based on what provides benefits, not their health but to their pockets.
    This article proves that because I am sure that their owners know the danger it causes on their health and others but all what they care about is the economical profit.

  7. Usually big companies dominate the world, thus control “the banks”. Such companies seek high profit, in order to do so they must do more damage to the environment.
    A “healthy” environment comes with lower profit, so “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.”(Steven Wright)
    There are lots of “bad memories” especially in third world countries as Lebanon, and this is causing a great damage to the environment.
    But there is hope, a number of activists is standing beside polluted seas and removing milliliters of spilled oil, and decreasing the use of their vehicles thus decreasing CO2 evolution into the air. However large numbers of companies are throwing tons of oil into the seas (for example in Chekka and Anfeh), crazily spraying toxic gazes into the atmosphere.
    Finally there is hope but by the time we have become millionaires, we’ll be tortured by the monster we created, and there no money will be enough to pay the costs of “his” rehabilitation.

  8. the past post

  9. Unfortunately, we are in Lebanon! As a first impression I

  10. Unfortunately, we are in Lebanon! As a first impression I thought that these pictures reflects an under-developed country but when I went through the article i found that the country that i was searching for is Lebanon especially Anfeh ( a city in the north of Lebanon) a near city to where I live. Eventually, I was a bit surprised because I know the catastrophes that encounter this small city and many of researches were done at the university of Balamand as the one done by the department of chemistry that shows that the amount of polluted air in Lebanon was extreme in the region of Anfeh and Cheka.
    I think that this article should be available in a daily Lebanese newspaper in order to send awareness to the Lebanese people and so that some legislatives will find a solution.

  11. last month the people in Minyeh Akkar, closed the international road by burning tires and raging protests because they claimed that the power plant next to their region was causing cancer and other types of diseases, however insead of demanding the removal or relocation of the factory, they actually demanded financial help.
    instead of being concerned in our health and of a clean environment, we are focusing on the financial benefits…how stupid is that????

  12. well Ziad, you are right, but on the other hand, when people are living in poverty, the last thing that they want to think about is how they are going to save their environment. Money comes first. after all it is because of money that investers are neglecting the methods that could reduce polution from their factories since they cost too much… now hw stupid is that?

  13. Well unfortunately in countries like Lebanon its never serious till it’s personal. We always hear of cancer but we only start working on preventing it & start fixing our lifestyle when someone we know is involved..
    Actually, there are governmental regulations that state all such factories that release toxic gases should be warned and shut down if the factory doesn’t have a fully equipped environmental team. But unfortunately factories that belong to the government itself for example the electric power company in Zouk are allowed to ignore these regulations.In addition, about the money issue, well such factories make a huge profit a year & money is not a big deal to them, but they do have strong ties with the government. This gives them a free pass.
    But if I were them I would rather pay a 150,000$ for a filter machine than put the life of that region’s residents at risk which definitely costs much more..

  14. well i agree with that ghattas…but instead of demanding money or free electricity they should as christine said demand a new filter for the company…anyhows it was all a political issue…and unfortunately in lebanon everything is related to politics…

  15. I live there. Just Near the Holcim industry. I pass by it everyday and I always remember the POLITE answer the General Director of this industry gaved me about two years ago.
    I asked him:” I live in Chekka and i dont know much about the Holcim policies concerning the enviromental issues and what it is giving the nature back for all the distructions… but I am sure about the increase rate of death because of cancer in chekka and Anfe. Plus, we seem to have many who suffers from brain deseases, athma and other respiratory problems. How so you explain that? and How come nothing is done yet?”
    His answer was: “Ya 3ayni” as my dear, If you were a Business man you woudnt ask this silly question.
    IMPRESSIVE i know!!!! with all respect ofcourse.

  16. Very impressive! it’s sad to hear that but it’s the truth.
    i wonder what would he do if he knew that someone he really cared of died from cancer or from any kind of respitratory problems ?
    What About Sabee? Another industry in chekka.
    I heard its giving nature back some agricultural forestation?
    I will like to add the problem of the distroyed mointain in Kfarhazir! Thats depressing!

  17. I have been living in Jounieh for almost 3 years now and i keep noticing this horrible brown fog before sunset. Although sometime it looks beautiful i can not stop thinking that this fog is product of the many factories and industries smoke on the zone, specially one located really close to the coast, no idea which company belong though. Moreover, its frustating knowing that eventhough people know that this ” fog” could be the one producing so many respiratory cancer in the zone, till now i know 6 people who were diagnosed with cancer, among with them a 10 years old boy. it is drepressing and frustating knowing that i can not do anything about.
    Thinking that this thing is happenning in other cities as well make it even worse.
    Therefore, i dont know if changing industries filter or promoting awareness to people will change something, but at least it could be a start. A change is needed, one that could at least provide good clinical statistics and less cancinogens release in the zone and more…

  18. This is true Rony. This is not just a way to cause pollution and by that climate change but a direct threatening of evreyone’s life. Maybe people don’t care of climate change since its consequences will be noted years from now even we won’t witness the total destruction of our planet. However, we are definetly witnessing the suffer of one of our relative or someone we know from CANCER. This disease is increasing day after day and one of its causes is US, the polution and carcinogens WE are causing. Are we that careless?? Don’t we even care about our own life??

  19. this article shocked me i live in a town near anfeh and i never knew that the affects of those industries was this serious. I think it is really devastating we should start working on it in order to nsave the nature and to save ourselves. i don’t understand no matter how much money is important it’s still considered worthless compared to our lives.

  20. first of all, i want to emphasize on the title:
    “cost of environmental destruction?” what is meant by cost? is it related to the effect of the destruction on the environment as health issues? or mabye related to the money cost that is supposed to pay for treating the environmental damage? or most probably both!! if we need to look at the story from both sides, we might just say why not! why not to damage the environment as long as the damage is reversible and it is treated correctly! well this is possible and reasonable but a main problem remain: what if the damage wasn’t reversible? the only mean to protect our environment and ourselves is by acting against any procedure that might cause this damage. also, even if this damage was reversible, can we manage to make the company that has caused to the damage to correct it according to our requirements? let’s suppose that we can, but in this case we will face another problem which is the increase in the price of production, thus the increase of prices in the market and the competition by international companies that might not be obliged according to the rules of its country to pay for the damage. In this case we will need a world wide movement, thus it will be easier from the bigennig if we just started with the concept of why to pay not just to avoid. we can avoid damaging our environment but looking for substites. Therefore, even companies when looking for a long term plan for their business, they will realize that preserving our resources is much easier, efficient and cheaper than causing the damage then paying for treating!

  21. I believe that people are selfish, they don’t react until it gets personal and until it touches one of their close friends or family members. So if you want that’s human nature that’s endlessly selfish. People don’t see the net outcome of their actions until it is too late because they’d be totally blinded by money and the income it provides. This is utter stupidity. Do you know that in Anfeh or Chekka you can’t own a white care because after 12 h of exposure to the air of the environment your car becomes black. Seriously, that’s a major issue! People are being hit continuously with cancer mainly lung cancer because of it and still ” cherket l trabeh” is working and expanding. Come on, isn’t that mere irony?!

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