If you haven’t heard of the Haze Wave, then you need to know this: it’s a global threat and a public health disaster. Here’s a brief history:
In 1997, an extended drought fuelled the most intense forest fires to date, spewing air pollution as far as Singapore. Described as a carbon bomb, these fires pumped tons upon tons of carbon into the air and were credited with a spike in greenhouse gas emissions that year.
Last year, Greenpeace was one of the first NGOs to call out palm oil companies for their role in the fires. The Haze Wave sent pollution levels in Singapore skyrocketing, sparking frenzied buying of facemasks and a swathe of regional meetings between regional governments.
This year, it could get worse. Weather patterns are colluding to make this a particularly strong drought. And more peat and forest have been cleared then ever before, creating a giant tinderbox.
Peat. The carbon bomb you probably didn’t know about.
The conclusion? The Haze Wave is rooted not in random spots for no reason; instead it’s the result of decades of forest and peatland destruction. It’s usually saturated with water. Indonesia’s peat stores a crazy amount of carbon – up to 60 billion metric tons, which makes it a virtual carbon bomb if even some of it was released into the air. And that’s not to mention the health impacts. A study in 2012 attributed an average of 110,000 deaths a year to these forest/peat fires in Southeast Asia. They add untold amounts of air pollution to metropolises across the region, including Singapore.
Join us as we embark on the next chapter in saving Indonesia’s forests.