Monday, June 17, 2013

Haze in Singapore: Singapore PSI worsens

Update: As worrying as Singapore PSI levels are, another major of air quality, PM 2.5, is also very high in unhealthy region.

Update: Well it is getting worse. The three-hour Singapore PSI climbed to 321 at 10 pm local time (1300 GMT) on 19 June 2013! This puts air quality to "hazardous" level.

Update: Singapore's air is now almost "very unhealthy" as the PSI soared to 190 at 8 pm today (19 June 2013), the worst reading in 16 years.

This afternoon Singapore PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) crossed the unhealthy level of 100 and rose to rose to 105 as of 3 pm. I was just looking towards PSA Building from Keppel Tower in Harbour Front this morning. There was almost no visibility (it is less then a kilometer away)! This is the worst haze in Singapore I have witnessed since the famous 2006 Southeast Asian haze.

In the night, PSI went from bad to worse:
The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 155 at 10pm, nearly 100 points higher than the PSI level of 56 at 7am today and well above  the "unhealthy" threshold of 101 and above. 
This is the highest since 1997, when the index reached 226.
But why there is haze in Singapore? Haze in Singapore and in the region is mostly caused by uncontrolled burning from "slash and burn" cultivation in Indonesia. Why Indonesian farmers slash and burn? To convert forests for the development of rubber and oil palm plantations. Slash and burn farming is a generations-old agricultural practice to clear land quickly through the cutting and burning of forests and woodlands to clear the sites for agricultural purposes. The demand is driven and accelerated largely by this environment "friendly" stupidity called bio-fuel! You know some governments somewhere else has put this ultra-environment destroying biofuels obligation for oil suppliers and guess how the suppliers are complying:
Palm oil is the cheapest fuel to buy and is used by most companies to meet part of their biofuels obligation. 
However, it is also the most damaging to the environment due to the CO2 released when forest is burnt down to create plantations. 
The RFA said: "The large proportion of unknown previous land use is of concern. If even a small proportion of this was carbon-rich grassland or forestland, it could have substantially reduced the carbon savings resulting from the renewable transport fuels obligation as a whole, or even resulted in a net release of carbon." 
Indonesia is the third largest CO2 emitter after America and China due to the expansion of the palm oil industry.
So if you are using bio-fuel and feel like you do something good, stop at least the stupidity: You are helping to destroy rain-forest and releasing more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere then someone using 100% fosil fuel. And if you are using bio-fuel and at the same time angry about the Chinese practice of Tiger parts as medicine then please note that you are killing more tigers by helping the destruction of their habitat.

How bad is it? Just take a look at the photo below. It shows the same location with and without haze:

Haze in Singapore
Haze in Singapore - Source : Stomp
Can you imagine the amount of fire required to do this?

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