June 21, 2013

It’s all a blur

Category: Weather

Life has been a great big blur in Singapore in the last few days. Literally.

Here are some of the snapshots I nicked off from some of my friends who have uploaded what they saw from outside their windows this morning:

A view from a neighbourhood. Source: GeraldC.
View of Marina Barrage. Source: RossKhoo
View from an expressway. Source: HYS
View from Springleaf Tower. Source: Mars

The haze which has been engulfing the entire of tiny Singapore was caused by illegal forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island. While it is an annual occurrence when big companies and small farmers slash and burn these lands to make way for plantations in lieu of the land clearing season,  this has been, by far the worst air pollution ever happened.

As of this morning (04:00 GMT), The Singapore’s pollution standards index (PSI) reached 401 – the highest in Singapore’s history. This surpasses the pollution level in Beijing (China), the most polluted city in the world! How very scary is that?
Source: /twitter.com/BeijingAir

For those not familiar with PSI readings, the breakdown is as follows:

  • 0-50 Good
  • 51-100 Moderate
  • 101-200 Unhealthy
  • 201-300 Very unhealthy
  • +300 Hazardous
Singapore has officially surpassed the hazardous level by now, and in the last few days, have already exceeded the peak of 226 when the last smog happened in 1997.
Even though that was quite a while ago, I still recalled those hazey days quite distinctly. I remember walking out of the office into smog of nothingness. The visibility was quite poor and the stench from the forest fire a thousand kilometers away  was overwhelming. I remember my mother being worried for us when we had to spend a lot of time out of home.  She would, without fail, sent me text messages reminding me to “please stay indoors and don’t stay outside if not necessary” when I was away at work. The offices remained open, and the government did what they do best – give speeches and tell their people to stay indoors.
I know that there is nothing that can be done to put out the fires immediately. However,  with PSI level going off the charts and Singapore being in a situation which “could last for weeks”, I cannot believe that the people in authority have not done anything much about it . In fact, their stance was (and still is!) continuing to “urge people to remain indoors and take care”. No emergency public holiday declared for the day, putting the working people  at the mercy of their employers who may or may not tell employees that they should or could go home. WTF?! Oh, really?
Oh right. I forget that you can be pretty heartless. After all, if everything shuts down, it will have a massive impact on the economy. Just can’t let that happen, can you. But of course I understand where you are coming from.  Making money is the most important thing. Sure. Allow that masks to be sold to every Singaporean at a very inflated rate. Everyone can afford it. No wait. What did you say? Sold out? Oh never mind. Just stay indoors. Make sure you use something to cover up your nose when you go to work. Even a tissue paper will do. “We will get through this together”.
OK. I HAD to rant. But, you should know that I.AM.BLOODY.ROLLING.MY.EYEBALLS. by now.
This is a terrible thing to happen. I would really hate to see my parents (who are currently visiting us this weekend) are going back to the hazardous smog in Singapore. It kills me to think how terrible it would be for people (especially those with respiratory problems, pregnant women, old folks and young children) and helpless animals that would have to suffer for something that was done by some inconsiderate people.
I hope everyone in Singapore is taking the necessary precautions, and hoping that there will be some rain to ease the smog away.
This is really one huge fire to fight.

Articles can be found here, here and here.

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