Singapore and the Smoke Haze Crisis

he 2013 and 2015 episodes of smoke haze over Singapore were some of the worst environmental crises in the nation’s history. Severe haze caused by land clearance fires in Indonesia blanketed Singapore for more than a month each time, leading to a dramatic shift in public attention and policies regarding the nation’s engagement with its neighbouring resource-extractive economies. This article reads the development of this crisis through the myth of the “air-conditioned nation,” arguing that it presents an opportunity to reconnect capitalism and regionalisation with their consequences.

In 2013, at the start of the forest clearance season, smoke from burning vegetation in the Indonesian island of Sumatra wafted over to Singapore, signalling the start of what had become a yearly event. Although the “haze” had become a frequent occurrence since the late 1990s, the 2013 event was the city state’s worst. The Pollutant Standards Index shot up to 471, four times above that of previously recorded incidents and way above the limit for healthy exposure. For more than two months, Singapore’s residents lived through a seemingly apocalyptic existence—an eerie orange pall fell over the island, and masked motorcyclists rode into the smoky abyss, eyes watering. People living in the high-rise homes all over the island reported the strange phenomenon of birds and bats making their way into apartments, seeking refuge from the smoke.

For people living in any number of cities in the developing world, these scenes looked unremarkable. Air pollution has long been a defining feature of Beijing, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. But for Singaporeans, their first-hand experience of an environmental disaster on this scale was an unprecedented encounter with a physical environment beyond one’s control. The result was a major shift in the city state’s relationship with its external world; Singapore became an environmental state, and its citizens, environmental subjects.

Forced into this new state of exposure to the elements, residents complained loudly and bitterly: why were farmers using fire to clear land? Who was ultimately responsible for this occurrence on a large sale? People looked for something or someone to blame, but the facts were clouded by misinformation and speculation. The accusations were lobbed at the Indonesian state, its corruptibility, and failure to enforce laws. An Indonesian minister remarked that Singaporeans were behaving “like children” by complaining (Straits Times 2013a). A diplomatic crisis loomed.

Reed more Singapore and the Smoke Haze Crisis 

Forest fire risk assessment using hotspot analysis in GIS

This article by Dr. El-Said Mamdouh Mahmoud Zahran et al. is published in The Open Civil Engineering Journal, Volume 11, 2017


The recent forest fire incidents are becoming a major concern as they seriously threaten the environment, economy and human’s safety. This research study aims to figure out forest fire hotspots using advanced hotspot analysis in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Further, it can help propose appropriate preventive measures using Site Suitability and Network Analyses in GIS. The study focuses on Brunei Darussalam because it is increasingly struck by forest fire incidents among all regions in Southeast Asia.

Brunei-Muara is the worst-hit district by forest fire in Brunei Darussalam, and hence it was selected as a case study for this research. The research used Getis-Ord Gi* which is a global and local spatial autocorrelation method that enables the recognition and understanding of hot and cold spots. The global spatial autocorrelation calculates the total degree of spatial autocorrelation for the forest fire dataset, while the local spatial autocorrelation identifies the locations and types of forest fire clusters. The Getis-Ord Gi* hotspot analysis in GIS successfully identified forest fire hotspots at the Northern Part of Brunei-Muara District and towards its shoreline. However, the locations of existing fire stations in Brunei-Muara district are mostly concentrated at the core of the district and thus are predominantly located outside the critical forest fire hotspots.

Therefore, the use of Getis-Ord Gi* hotspot analysis in GIS for forest fire risk assessment was extremely useful for spotting the shortage of fire stations and generally suggesting the suitable locations for new fire stations in Brunei-Muara District. Site Suitability Analysis for the new fire stations was conducted using the local road network to identify the service coverage area for each fire station. This allowed a more specific identification of the suitable locations for building new fire stations that can help to improve effectively the emergency services of Brunei Fire and Rescue Department.


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Indonesia’s Forest Fires: Limited Resources Hamper Fight

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Forest fires sweeping across Sumatra and Kalimantan in recent months prompted six Indonesian provinces to declare a state of emergency. Yet the scale of resources devoted to fighting and preventing forest fires remains far short of what is needed to turn around Indonesia’s rising rates of deforestation and meet Indonesia’s ambitious climate pledge.

Fires break out across Indonesia every year during the dry season as large companies and smallholder farmers alike burn forests and fields to clear land for crops, especially lucrative oil palm and pulpwood. These crops are big business. Palm oil exports exceeded US$15 billion in 2015, while the forestry industry employs more than half a million Indonesians. The fires are enabled by decades of forest degradation caused by logging, which thins and dries the forest.

Fires are biggest during El Niño years when flames can reach catastrophic proportions as they did in 1998 and 2015. But sizable fires happen even in non-El Niño years, like 2017. Across the country, the fires cause respiratory damage as millions of Indonesians inhale smoke, as well as economic damages to airports, schools, crops and timber.

Read more: Indonesia’s Forest Fires: Limited Resources Hamper Fight
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Firefighters coming home for Christmas

Firefighters coming home for Christmas

 December 19, 2017

Gardnerville resident Rhonda Vega said her Christmas will be complete when her son Darren and her son-in-law Aaron Leising are safe home from the Southern California fires.

Darren is a member of the Salmon Idaho Heli-Rappellers and Aaron went down with East Fork Brush 10.

“Christmas to me will be having both my boys Aaron and Darren home safely and healthy along with all the others fighting this fire,” she said in a note.

Several East Fork firefighters have gone down to fight the Thomas Fire, including Kevin Repan, Kevin Emm, and Adam Wennhold.

Aaron’s father, Nate Leising, is putting together a scrapbook for his son Aaron, who was fighting Southern California fires last week.

Nate and I had a long talk about firefighting in general and the important experience the East Fork crews are getting on the Thomas fire.

Read more:

Is Indonesia’s fight against forest fires falling short?

Is Indonesia’s fight against forest fires falling short?

Using robots to detect forest fires

Rex Sham and his WALL-E-inspired robots are improving fire detection to slash carbon emissions and make the world better.

By: Stephen Craft

If he were in a movie, Rex Sham would be the bad guy, or at the very least the well-meaning scientist who unwittingly wipes out the human race. In reality, Sham, the co-founder and chief science officer of Insight Robotics, is using his ingenious, WALL-E-like fire-detecting robots to save the planet.

What Sham has developed is an automated early warning system that combines a high-precision, pan-tilt robot with thermal imaging sensors and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) vision technology. In its tests of the Computer Vision Wildfire Detection System, the Guangdong Academy of Forestry (Insight Robotics’ research partner since 2010) has recorded a 100 per cent detection rate in multiple field trials and deployments.

At 32, Sham has already co-authored two patents, won awards for his research, and seen his fire-protection systems being used by 41 forestry departments all over China, as well as in his native Hong Kong, private plantations in Indonesia, and in Malaysia and Brazil. His systems now monitor 1.5 million hectares of forest.

“Forest fires are a very big issue all over the world. According to NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], the smoke from those fires contributes about 30 percent of the global carbon emissions every year, making it one of the largest causes of global warming,” Sham says.


Field Visit to Bintuni

Field Visit to Bintuni By: Erianto Indra Saputra As part of the Y-1 activities of UMCES/IPB-NASA…

Forest Fire Control Continues into The Rainy Season

Sunday, 01 October 2017 | 21:21 WIB

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM – Director of Forest and Land Fire Control, Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) Raffles B Panjaitan said the rainfall forecasts in several regions in Indonesia did not reduce the efforts to prevent and suppress forest and land fires (karhutla) by the KLHK Karhutla Control Brigade, Manggala Agni.

Raffles said that all the heads of Manggala Agni’s operational areas were ordered to continue monitoring, and direct checking (groundcheck) on hotspot monitoring results. Groundcheck is the first step in preventing fires at the location of hotspots. Through groundcheck, it can be determined whether the location is really on fire or not.

“If a fire is found, the groundcheck team will immediately report to the headquarters of operational areas to immediately follow up the fire suppression efforts, so the fire can be contained,” Raffles said, as quoted from the page of PPID KLHK, Sunday (10/1/2017).

Raffles said, other prevention efforts carried out is counseling to prevent people from opening land by burning.

Until September 30, 2017, NOAA Satellite monitoring recorded number of hotspots at 2,320 points in all parts of Indonesia. In the same period in 2016, the number of hotspots were 3,773 points, so there is a decrease of 31.27 percent.

TERRA-AQUA (NASA) satellite monitoring shows a lower number of hotspots at12 points, with 1,705 locations as of September 30. This number decreased by 51.09 percent compared to 2016’s figure of 3,486 locations.

Source: Forest Fire Control Continues into The Rainy Season

Five named suspects in Jambi land, forest fires

Jambi | Sat, September 9, 2017 | 02:42 pm

The Jambi Police have named five people as suspects during their investigation into seven land and forest fire cases, which occurred from January to August.

Jambi Police spokesperson Comr. Wirmanto Dinata said three out of the seven cases were handled by the Tebo Police while two cases were investigated by the Batanghari Police. The East Tanjungjabung Police and the Muarojambi Police handled one case each.

Three land and forest burners were named suspects by the Tebo Police while two others were declared suspects by the Muarojambi Police and the East Tanjungjabung Police.

“They were all named individual suspects. There has been no corporation named suspect in the land and forest fire cases,” Wirmanto said on Friday.

He said three case reports handled by the Tebo Police and another report tackled by the East Tanjungjabung Police were all still under investigation. Meanwhile, the investigation by the Muarojambi Police had been completed, in which both suspect and evidence had been handed over to prosecutors.

“Two reports handled by the Batanghari Police are still in the investigation stage and no one has been declared as a suspect,” said Wirmanto.

Fires reported in the seven dossiers cover 6.5 hectares of land, of which 2.5 ha is located in Tebo and another 2 ha is in Batanghari. East Tanjungjabung and Muarojambi has 1 ha each.

“We are calling on all land owners and companies not to clear land using slash and burn methods. We will impose tough sanctions on anyone found guilty of committing such illegal practices,” he said. (ebf)

Source: Five named suspects in Jambi land, forest fires

Jambi land, forest fires continue

Jambi | Wed, September 6, 2017 | 09:41 pm

While the number of hot spots in some areas across Sumatra is declining with the onset of the rainy season, land and forest fires in Jambi continue to break out.

The Jambi administration’s Land and Forest Fire Task Force data shows that fires in the province cover 488 hectares in seven regencies. They comprise Batanghari, Bungo, East Tanjungjabung, Muarojambi, Sarolangun, Tebo and West Tanjungjabung.

One of the task force’s information personnel, Maj. Jasman Bangun, who is also the 042/Garuda Putih Military Command spokesperson, said several fires had been detected in areas across Senyerang district, West Tanjungjabung.

He said the task force was fighting fires in Senyerang using water bombs and through land operations.

“The fire fighting efforts will be continuously conducted until there are no more fires,” said Jasman on Wednesday.

“Two aircraft have carried out 65 water bombings to extinguish the fires. But because of the fires are extensive and on peatland, fire fighting efforts must be continued,” he added.

Jasman said limited equipment and personnel had hampered the efforts. “The fires are on peatland. We must ensure that the fires, which burning far below the soil surface, are fully extinguished,” said Jasman. (efb)

Source: Jambi land, forest fires continue