In a way, it might be possible to have empathy for Libya’s embattled head of state, Muamar al Gadaffi, whose beloved green projects all over this desert kingdom may soon be coming to an abrupt end. Prior to all the present confusion that is occurring in Libya, Colonel Gadaffi involved himself in a number of unusual “green” projects, including a project to construct the largest artificial river which Gadaffi himself acclaimed as being “the 8th natural wonder of the world.”
This artificial waterway, built with pipes made in Libya and using water brought up from ancient underground aquifers, was just one of several environmental projects, including special types of pivot irrigation for circular farms in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
But all of these grandiose projects have come at a price; and that price included the expenditure of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues which might have been put to better use. The fact that this money is partially what is causing the near civil war that is currently occurring in Libya today. Those in Libya who have been able to benefit from its fossil fuel wealth, especially Gadaffi’s own family, have thought up other ways to increase this wealth. These included an idea to buy a stake in beleaguered British Petroleum when it was accused of being responsible for the disastrous 5 month oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Not only that, the need for more oil and gas revenues has resulted in a number of offshore drilling projects that archeologists say could endanger many coastal historical sites. These sites include those at Ptolemais, the ancient capital of the Roman province of Cyrenaica, on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast.
Will Muamar’s people retain his love for the Sahara?
Even if the Colonel somehow finds a way to suppress this populist uprising “by every last drop of my blood”, he now says, the country will not be the same; and may even wind up being split into two portions.
The eastern part, where Cyrenaica once offered its residents a mini version of mighty Rome, complete with its own arena for gladiatorial combats, may again become its own country. Ironically, this region is where much of Libya’s current oil reserves lie; which makes the rectangular-shaped section even more valuable.
Gadaffi has ruled Libya with an iron fist since 1969; and most of the people there will not be sorry to see him go. As for the man made river and pivot irrigation projects, as the saying goes in this part of the world: What comes from the desert returns to it.
Read more on Libyan environmental issues:
Libya Makes Large Man Made River to Bring Water to a Thirsty Nation
Libya’s Pivot Irrigation in the Sahara Proves that Money can do Anything
Libyan Oil Clout Now Pushing to Buy a Stake in BP