Over the past week in South East Asia, you will no doubt have noticed the heavy haze hanging over cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the effects of which have been placing countless numbers of people in hospital and closing schools all over the place.
The cause of this haze can be traced back to companies in Sumatra using slash and burn techniques to burn the rain forests down, rain forests home to over 10,000 plant species, and more than 200 mammals (UNESCO world heritage site – a 2.5 million hectare reserve alone.). Slash and burn is used by farmers in small areas of the forest, but it is currently being used by bigger palm oil industries in order to create palm oil plantations. However, the fires have been spreading and the Sumatran fire department is having trouble keeping them under hand. The fires are releasing countless numbers of carbon emissions into the atmosphere as well.
The result of which means that the smoke and haze is being blown up by a south west wind, falling directly over Singapore and KL. The quality of air, at its worst was 746 on the API scale. Also, June and July are some of the driest months of the year, and the lack of rain means the haze lingered. The annual KL marathon has had to be pushed back to September due to the unsafe quality of air.
I will, however, admit, that many student (including myself) were very happy about the extra 3 day holiday we got due to the haze!