Saturday, 15 March 2014

written by Chua Zi, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2014

Design by Valerie Law Yeng Yee, Class of 2014
In a country that houses one of the most diverse ecological systems of wet rain forests in the world, Malaysians have just lived through a dry spell. The haze is back, for the third time in the past 6 months, and despite the sporadic rainfall, temperatures have been observed to hike up to 42°C. It’s almost hot enough to wish we had a polar vortex affect Malaysia. Almost.

The haze situation became hazardous on Friday, and Cempakans were given the option of not attending school. With readings of up to 350 API, schools in Port Klang and Kuala Langat were ordered to close by Selangor’s Education Department. 

Last week, the water supply tightened in Selangor, Malaysia’s most populous province, forcing water rationing. The Wall Street Journal blog reported that at the Sungai Selangor dam, which provides 60% of Putrajaya’s water supply, water levels had dropped below 50%. Two water treatment plants at Sungai Langat had also stopped operations due to a case of ammonia contamination. Meanwhile, our school toilets stank.

In another part of the world, Mainland China, the sunset starts being televised on giant TV screens because Beijing is so clouded in smog. Once again, human irresponsibility forces us to rely on a piece of technology to fulfil one of the prerequisites of life. The trend continues.

The smog is so severe that it has been declared a ‘health crisis’ by the World Heath Organization. The level of pollution in China’s capital, Beijing is due predominantly to small dangerous particles of pollution. The levels constantly reach more than 20 times the internationally recognized safety limit — thick enough to mask China’s tallest building.

There have been calls for a strategic transition to greener technology to alleviate the plight of the Chinese. However, calls for change often go unheard as China faces the challenge of balancing its economic growth and controlling pollution in its major cities. One leading environmental scientist, Professor Thang Shiqui of Peking University says,“if the government wanted to slow down the economy to get a greener environment, the public would not have agreed.”

Back home, we’re still pointing fingers trying to isolate some neighbouring Southeast Asian country whose open-burning or industrial activity caused the haze to come back. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says he may take over management of the hazardous open-burning situation which has caused periodic smog in the region for years. At least it’s not only us to blame this time.

It’s a recurring trend in human nature to disregard anthropogenic sources of climate phenomena. Along with our skewed sense of risk, it seems natural to treat the haze as a occasional thing and not a result of our collective contributions to the deterioration of our environment. As the BBC has stated about China, it will take “years or even decades to reduce [its] pollution problem.” That applies for everyone. For now, public action is imperative.
by Chua Zi 13:47 14 comments | in , , , , ,


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