Thursday, September 17, 2015

Forest Fires in Pontianak, West Borneo, Indonesia 2015

Road in Borneo, Indonesia, Haze 2015
Road condition at noon.
(I hope the camera captured the haze clearly)

Among the citizen of Pontianak (West Borneo), we have the inside joke saying that we are living in an area with 3 seasons: the dry season, wet season, and smog/haze season. 
(We only have dry and wet season, obviously)

kebakaran-hutan, Indonesia Hotspot Spread
Hot spot spread mapping in Indonesia.
This is the natural causes of the forest fires that causes haze all over Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
The human causes is the forest clearing for industry purposes (palm oil and paper) by unauthorized company (illegal)
The island on the far left is the Sumatra Island and the island on its left is Borneo Island.
Both are the main hot spots areas.
The worse area of the haze is Riau, Pekan Baru, Sumartra.

Haze is not uncommon as is anticipated each an every year during the peak of dry season. By this time of the year, the air will be so filthy that it looks pretty much like the movie Silent Hill. 

Silent Hill

Pontianak Haze 2015
Pontianak Grand Mosque


Was Silent Hill Movie shot here?

Schools are closed as the air is very unhealthy. Face masks are being distributed every where. People are advised to stay at home. The visibility on the road is pretty bad that people are turning on the vehicles light even in mid noon. The visibility on the sky in worse as dozens of flights are being cancelled and airlines company are making loses everyday. The fisherman cannot sail as well. 

I am not joking about how bad it is. It was in the news every single day now (even on international news, like bbc) and this years haze is might be the worse that we have ever experienced so far. 
Indonesia Forest Fire
Indonesia Forest Fire

Due to the fire, the forest coverage areas in Indonesia is getting smaller and smaller. 
The level of deforestation in Indonesia is the second after Brazil.
Borneo Forest
The Borneo Island of Indonesia. We can see that the forest (green areas) are is getting smaller and smaller each year. This is caused by illegal logging and forest fires.

I actually got an eye infection from the haze and there are a lot of people are getting lungs infections (ISPA: Infeksi Saluran Pernapasan Akut/Acute Respiratory Infection). Here is the report from the local newspaper about the hazardous air. Pontianak, West Borneo (KalBar) is where I lived. I provide some translation.

This table is on the local newspaper 2 days ago (15/9)
Pink Highlighted is where I live

Here is the report of the air quality in Pontianak by 16 September 2015 from BMKG (The National Meteorology and Geophysics Department)
Green (Good), Yellow (Medium), Brown (Unhealthy), Red (Very Unhealthy), Purple (Dangerous)
Now we have exceed the purple areas by a super-huge-skyrocketing margin

Pontianak Haze 2015, Indonesia
Pontianak Haze (taken from the local newspaper)

This is no joke. The moment you step outside your home, it is difficult to breath. The air is so acrid and there are a lot of white stuff (like burned stuff) flying in the air. There are less people on the street. It feels like a semi-apocalypse from a dystopian movie where the zombie will suddenly jump out of no where. 

Local government is trying hard to solve this issues by making the artificial rain (which is expensive). Senior executives from large companies suspected of illegal forest clearing are being caught. Our military personals (ABRI) has been assigned to help extinguished the fire at the forest. However, not much changes happens.

Indonesia Forest Fire
Our Military Personals are being assigned to help extinguished the forest fire. 

I just hope that it rains soon and the haze ends soon. I am tired of having a difficulty only to breath. I thought 'air' is suppose to be free. But may be in the near future, we or our children each have to carry an oxygen tank as our backpack because the oxygen level on earth is not enough anymore. 

I understand that we cannot do anything much about the natural causes of the forest fires. We are living in tropical areas (passed by the equator line) and it is a dry season. Even slight scrapping of dry twigs due to wind blowing can set a whole forest on fire. However, I am very sad, and disappointed and ashamed by the human caused of the fire. #prayforindonesia

It finally rained on 18/9 and 19/9 and since then, the air started to clear a little bit. Now the sun rays can penetrate the layers of haze. I think the temperature has gone higher now. 
The haze returns on 22 September. The white dust flies in the air and I think it is going to be worse in couple days. 

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