First, it was the Amazon forest burning, now forests in our own continent are on fire.
Bloomberg reported that the air quality in Singapore and some parts of Malaysia are becoming bad because of forest fires that seem thriving in the Indonesian region.
Authorities have warned that the western coast of peninsular Malaysia (aka Semanjung Malaysia) and western Sarawak will suffer haze until the monsoon season at the end of September or early October 2019.
Not only that but our Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, Environment & Climate Change will reportedly talk Indonesia into taking immediate action to curb the haze problem.
Malay Mail wrote that they would “send a diplomatic note to Indonesia, so immediate action will be taken to put out the fires and prevent repeated burning”. Indonesia currently faces global pressure to put the deforestation to an end, especially after the Amazon forest burning.
By 6th September 2019, Indonesian officials located 6,312 hot spots which are often the target for fire. These hotspots include areas in the western and central parts of Borneo Island. Agus Wibowo, who is Indonesia’s spokesman for disaster mitigation agency said via SMS,
“This is the height of the dry season, hence the height of the number of hot spots.”
FYI, previously there were only 2,694 hot spots for fire.
If you didn’t know, the Borneo Island is the third largest island in the world and it is divided into four political regions – Indonesia owns Kalimantan, Sabah & Sarawak are a part of Malaysia, and a small portion of the island is Brunei. The island has one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, as they are home to fauna like orang-utans, clouded leopards, and pygmy elephants.
For many years, South-East Asia has been suffering from annual haze because of the slash-and-burn practices in Sumatra and Kalimantan, islands which belong to Indonesia. Farmers use the slash-and-burn method to clear the forests for palm and pulp plantations.
However, the dry season (this time) makes it easier for these fires to spread, and this poses a hazard to neighbouring countries like Malaysia & Singapore. A netizen, Freyr, who showed concern over the issue tweeted,
borneo is burning! yet there is little media coverage.
farmers are clearing land for palm oil + pulp plantations by slash & burn agriculture methods. the dry season makes it more easier for fires to spread & be more dangerous. nothing about this is natural. ini adalah ketamakan. pic.twitter.com/wsiOj9QQx8
— freyr (@sunfloweraidil) September 9, 2019
Note: The red dots are markings for where the forest fires have been, or are, taking place.
Under his tweet – which got about 19,300 retweets -, other netizens shared videos and pictures about how the weather in Borneo (specifically Sarawak) has gotten worse. You can check out one of the videos from the thread below:
The weather has gotten so bad that the pollutant index in several places in Sarawak (Sri Aman, Samarahan, Kuching, Sarikei, Sibu and Miri) are at an unhealthy level, reported The Star.
Therefore, to ensure that people aren’t severely affected by the smog, our authorities are looking in seeding the clouds after air quality in certain areas reached unhealthy levels, wrote The Straits Times. Special functions officer of the Environment Ministry, Gary Theseira said,
“The moment the cloud situation is right, the chemicals will be loaded and the aircraft will take off and proceed with the seeding.”
In the meantime, here’s how you can protect yourself from the terrible haze:
- Avoid outdoor activities for a time being. This is especially important for kids, pregnant women, the elderly and people suffering from chronic illness.
- Close all windows to avoid the haze entering your home or office.
- You can use an air purifier which does not generate ozone (as they are pollutants too) to keep your indoor air fresh.
- Drink a lot of water and increase the intake of fruits as well as vegetables.
- Avoid driving if the visibility of the outdoors is bad.
- Use a surgical mask or a respirator whenever you need to be outdoors.
Remember to be extra cautious during this haze “season”, guys!
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