JAKARTA — NASA warns that the suffocating haze that has blanketed Southeast Asia for the past several weeks may worsen and become the worst ever recorded in the region.
The haze caused by this year’s fires in Indonesia has spread to various parts of Indonesia and has deeply impacted air quality in Singapore and Malaysia. NASA researchers have warned that if Indonesia’s current drier-than-usual weather condition persists, the haze will worsen.
Illegal slash-and-burn farming in southern and eastern Sumatra as well as on the island of Kalimantan causes Indonesia to endure annual bouts of hazardous smog. The expansion of small farms and the growth of palm oil or rubber corporations in recent years has intensified forest fires in the country.
Pollutants Standards Index, or PSI, readings over 300 is considered hazardous to human health. Singapore has recorded readings up to 341 this year, while Indonesia has reportedly seen readings of up to 2000. CNN reports that parts pollution levels in parts of Indonesia have gotten so high that babies under six months old have been evacuated to less polluted areas.
Indonesia’s Southeast Asian neighbors are pressuring the archipelago to solve the haze issue, with the Singapore Foreign Minister reportedly saying that Indonesiais showing a “complete disregard for our people, and their own.”
The Jakarta Globe reports that an Indonesian official responded by accusing Singapore of “acting like a child and making all of this noise.” Indonesia has rejectedSingapore’s help to fight the fires.- TN