Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Haze is Back

There is a lot of coverage on the air pollution levels in Beijing at this time. We're not quite as bad as that (yet) but the annual haze season has started in Indonesia.

During the dry season, the farmers clear their land by burning it. There are literally hundreds of fires burning throughout Indonesia at this time. The burning saves them money in terms of labor, equipment and time. Right now, there isn't any mention of this on the news yet because the air quality hasn't reached dangerous levels.

This same burning happens every year and its effects are felt throughout Malaysia and Singapore as well because the winds will carry all the fumes over there. It is such a common occurrence that people have become a little too complacent about it. The Malaysians complain about it but all they can do is put up with it. It doesn't make the headlines until those dangerous school-closing levels are reached. I have no idea whats really being done about it at the government level apart from yakity yak yak yak.

Here in Indonesia, the people around me don't even notice it. I get responses like "What smell?" and then "Oooooh Thaaat. Its the burning by the farmers". No big deal. In 2006, I saw some CNN footage of Palembang itself, with the haze so thick that it looked like there was a sandstorm taking place. Last year was an oddity and things didn't get so out of hand in Palembang because it rained more than usual.

I'm a little worried this year because it hasn't been raining much this week and already my eyes and throat are itching. I'm keeping Aaron indoors mostly but if it gets much worse, staying inside isn't really going to help.


John said...

Occasionally the Forestry Department will do controlled burns in the heavily wooded areas of Missouri and Arkansas. The burns are to eliminate fuel for potential forest fires. When that happens, the winds can carry the smoke (and the smell) for great distances and anybody with asthma or allergies is affected.

Mike said...

Time to move to the upwind side of the island.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I thought the Beijing haze had been swept under the carpet?

Bilbo said...

Do filter masks help at all? I sometimes see people wearing them when there's a lot of smoke in the air. I don't know if Aaron would keep it on, but it may be worth a try should things get bad enough.

Nap Warden said...

My Brother is in Beijing...He says the air is way worse than anyone is reporting...must be really bad!