“How is the weather? I guess you lay by the pool every day” – common question from friends at home. Surely the autumn in Kuching isn’t dark, cold or giving me that common Swedish yearly winter depression. But honestly, I would change the warm weather in Kuching to the depressing cold Swedish climate without hesitating. Why? The reason is the ugly haze.
What is haze? Shortly explained haze is smog in the air. In Kuching and in big areas in Southeast Asia it is caused by land and forest fires. The fires are a result from the unsustainable palm oil industry. An industry with an annual production of 60 million ton, where Malaysia and Indonesia accounts for 86 % of the production. To understand this huge production – it is rain forest area equivalent of 300 soccer fields being destroyed every hour.
All the many negative impacts with the palm oil industry is listed by WFF here. What I experienced during my semester abroad is how a whole city gets locked inside because of poisonous air, how people get sick, has to walk around with masks and aren’t able to do any activities outside.
So instead of Kuching being like this (my imaginary picture of the ever day life in Kuching was always hanging around the pool before I moved here…)
I am glad to have experienced the haze, because this important issue is new for me. So what can I do to help? What can you do to help?
In one of my units right now, “Sustainable design”, the lecturer thought that the haze-issue could be solved if all the students shared information about this to all they know. In that way more people get enlighten about the haze issue South East Asia are dealing with every year. Hopefully the information reaches people who have the power to do something about it. If a blog post and a simple share on Facebook or Twitter is enough to help, it is worth a try. So this is what you and I can do for helping: share and help to make a difference.
Articles to read about the haze:
– What causes South East Asia’s haze?
– WFF about the palm oil industry
– Blog post in Swedish written by my friend Sofia (also engineer student)