I sat in a meeting a couple of days ago to assess an environmental action plan to address the oil slick pollution caused by the bombardment of the fuel tanks of the Jiyyeh power plant.
It was an ad-hoc committee meeting assembled to “brain-storm” on actions to be taken to clean up the oil that washed on the shores all along the Lebanese coast.
Needless to say, I abhor such meetings or such activities, especially that 90% of the time the people on such committees who are supposed to brain-storm often come with nothing to “storm with”. But, the person who called for this meeting is a good friend of mine and I didn’t want to upset her, so I was among the first people to show up.
People started trickling in little by little and soon we were about 7 or 8 persons sitting around a nice, modern furniture table in one of those fancy new buildings in Downtown Beirut where the NGO in question has offices. Then a young woman entered the room as if she’s walking on a modeling isle.
The guy sitting next to me leaned over and whispered:
- “Isn’t she an eye candy!”
I felt like leaning back towards him and saying that for the last six months I’m on a strict “sugar-free” diet but then decided against it and just nodded in “fake” agreement.
The meeting started and conversation soon turned into the details of the action to be taken to clean up the oil that washed on the rocks of the shore. The most effective way it seems is to manually clean the rocks using a special solvent agent which reacts with the oil and dilutes it.
The conversation was going on on how and where to get the solvent and what quantities were needed.
At this point, about 40 minutes into the meeting, “Candy” has said nothing and showed pretty much no interest in what was going on.
I asked to speak and drawing on my background in chemical engineering, I warned that although solvents could be very effective in such cases, a special attention should be drawn to the fact that we are operating in a sea environment and the high level of salt in the waters could hinder the solvent’s efficiency and care should be taken to order solvents capable in working in salty environments. Naturally, these solvents are much more expensive then the regular ones I added.
The discussion livened and arguments were advanced on how much should the budget be to cover the extra expense for the solvents. Another 10 to 15 minutes passed by.
Then, Ms. “M&M Mars” motioned to speak. There was silence around the table and then she said:
-“Isn’t there a way to take the salt out of the water?”
There was silence around the table and I think I heard a few chuckles.
I leaned towards the guy sitting next to me and whispered:
“Beware of eye candy, it causes intellectual diarrhea!”