Friday, February 25, 2005

The Air We Breathe

Kuala Lumpur is completely shrouded in smoky haze. I can hardly see my neighbours. The brilliant tropical light and its primary colours have disappeared and everything now is an inpenetrable monochrome. The air is acrid and it's hard to breathe. It's unbearably hot.

The immediate cause is straightforward. There's been very little rain for more than a month, and forest and peat fires are burning across six states, including Selangor which surrounds the capital. Here, more that 2,000 hectares have been ablaze for more than ten days. It's all made worse by the levels of car exhaust emissions and increased use of air-conditioning. There are reports here, here, here and here. Singapore and Sumatra are also affected. The longer term causes are more deeply-rooted: partly the result of unsustainable levels of pollution that blight so many Southeast Asian cities and partly a consequence of the draining of the peatlands. If anyone doubts that human foolishness is to blame then you should be in Kuala Lumpur today. And it's not due to rain properly for another month ...


Anonymous ~snoot~ said...

"I can hardly see my neighbours."wow! u can actually see ur neighbours on normal days??? that's v surprising considering that the ppl in condos/apartments always keep to themselves. i always jump in fright when i come out of my lift & see someone standing there.

11:43 pm  

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