Every year, Singapore and the neighboring countries of Indonesia would experience very hazy days. Sometimes, it’s only for a few days and not so visible though we can smell it in the air. Some other times, it’s so bad that we can’t see anything.
It’s not fog. It’s smoke. It comes from the result of the ‘slash and burn’ activities in the forests of Sumatra. This year, it’s gotten so bad in Singapore, that we experienced the highest PSI (pollutant standard index) reading ever, at more than 410 which is considered as Hazardous. For the span of 5 days, the reading was up from the 80s to 400s. The condition outside causes us very hard to see and even breathe. The temperature is so HOT, it feels like living inside an oven. The particles in the air is so tiny that it’s so dangerous to breathe the air, it’s so bad!
The above pictures were taken in two different times, from the same spot. The left one is taken during normal day in Singapore, when PSI reading is considered good, usually at around 30-40. The right one was taken after it was announced that the PSI has reached 400 and everyone is stayed to stay indoor because the level of quality of the air was too hazardous. You can barely see anything.
The burning is still happening when I write this, but the weather is a bit better as the wind has changed its course (which resulted a worse condition in Malaysia, actually). Singapore government said that the hazy condition may still linger for weeks until the fire is put out entirely.
Singapore government puts more pressure to Indonesian government due to this issue, which was replied with defensive comments. As an Indonesian, I felt bad how the Indonesian government handles the situation, especially when they start playing the blame game. No matter who created the fire, be it a local farmer, a multinational corporation, or local company, the matter is that what these people have done, resulted in an endangerment to so many people – not only in Singapore but also Malaysia, even the Indonesians too. The government should put stricter rules on the use of slash and burn to open up land among the farmers or corporations. Not as simple, I know.. but if the government can be stricter and firm, it’s not impossible. For once, they should care more about the people, be it locals or those in neighboring countries.
This past week helped me learn that you can’t take fresh air for granted. I appreciate more on having fresh air, to be able to do activities outdoor in a clean fresh crisp air. And that goes along with other things.. fresh water, fresh food, and so on. Don’t take things for granted, yet let’s do something about it, to make this world a better place, shall we?