Why is Indonesia on Fire, and What Can You do to Help?

This is a tragedy. We have to put a stop to this insanity!


By Orion McCarthy 

Photo credit: David Gilbert. Photo credit: David Gilbert.

INDONESIA is going up in smoke.

The massive island nation, home to 255 million people and nearly 50,000 species, has been smoldering since June amidst a wildfire crisis. Across the country, 115,000 active fires have consumed an area the size of New Jersey, producing a heavy blanket of toxic smog that has extended beyond Indonesia to Singapore and Malaysia.

The result is one of the worst environmental and humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.

A map of active fires in Indonesia as of September, as well as satellite imagery of the thick Southeast Asian haze. Photo credit: The Malaysian Insider, NASA. A map of active fires in Indonesia as of September, as well as satellite imagery of the thick Southeast Asian haze, with fires outlined in red. Photo credit: The Malaysian Insider, NASA.

Toxic haze has altered daily life across the region. Hazardous pollution levels have led to widespread school closures, cancelled events, and declarations of emergency in several Indonesian provinces. An estimated 500,000 Indonesians have reported instances of…

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8 thoughts on “Why is Indonesia on Fire, and What Can You do to Help?

  1. Most of these fires are the work of indigenous tribe forest dwellers attempting to clear land and they do this every year. Part reason of this activity can be credited to their belief system. The fires have just got out of control (again). Many though are started by natural causes as they get terrific electrical storms during their “winter” monsoon season June-August and coupled with high winds, hence the result. It’s one of these countries that’s just nigh impossible to control in this respect. There’s 5 huge main islands and 17,000 smaller, much of which is not easily accessible.

    1. There are a mixture of causes. As you say the locals regularly clear the jungle to grow crops. The slash and burn enables farming for a few years. The soil is poor quality and then rapidly erodes. The burgeoning population creates more pressure. Then there is the clearance necessary for cash crops from the big companies – palm oil being the latest. The end result is a lot of pollution, carbon releaser, habitat destruction and destruction of wild-life.
      One of my friends was working for CDC and witnessed much deliberate decimation for short-term gain – long-term disaster.
      It needs stopping.

      1. I worked a place where many of Indonesia’s top boys in mining and forestry would congregate. Kinda heavy people.
        One lot had lost 90 billion US dollars digging for oil that wasn’t there. They took the senior geologist up in a helicopter and had him fall out of it over the dud site. There’s a tiny indication of the corruption.
        When I was there, the president’s son owned all the franchise’s for McDonald’s, the daughter got the revue for the tolls – tolls that are 6 lanes each way in Jakarta. The traffic volume is unreal. And his misses got the profits off everything to do with tourist goods, carvings etc.
        I don’t think negotiation will do it.

  2. Perhaps economically they’ve got it all. Diamonds, other gems, oil & varieties of, coal, forestry and all subsidiaries, every international bank in the world with offices and trading, massive heavily armed army, very healthy tourism, nobody starves.
    Tough nut.

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