Andrea T Edwards

Oh Haze How I Despise Thee

It’s been more than a week of haze and last night the pollution index passed 200 in Singapore – that’s really really unhealthy and it’s horrible to live in it. I hate the haze. I went through the worst in Singapore’s recorded history back in 2013, when it went well over 700 – which meant acrid, orange smoke everywhere. I was a miserable cow during that time and I was also scared.
I didn’t understand how this would impact us until a friend from India explained it’s like this regularly in his hometown of Delhi. That helped me to chill a bit. While still not pleasant, it was short-term and it made me sick to think that much of the world’s population live in these conditions all year round.
Back in 2013 I looked more deeply into what caused it and why. Quite simply, bushfires in Indonesia (Borneo and Sumatra), caused by the burning of native forests so they can plant palm trees for palm oil production. Why do we need palm oil? For cooking obviously, but it’s also a core product in household goods like soaps, chocolate and more. That inspired me to write this blog, pleading with the world to stop buying products containing palm oil. We have so many options that don’t contain it, but more importantly, if we don’t stop, not only does it mean this region has to suffer the haze every year, but every person on earth will be responsible for the extinction of the Orangutans and the Sumatran Tigers.
We don’t have long until this becomes a reality. Are you happy to have these two magnificent creatures go extinct on your watch? And it’s not just these two – many species are at risk due to the illegal slashing and burning.
I’m not happy about this threat and the blogs I write are my way of trying to make a difference. So please, I beg you, next time you go shopping, look at your shopping basket. What are you buying? Are you buying extinction? If you are, please can you stop? Just do a little research and understand the situation we’re in, because if everyone made conscious buying decisions we can make an impact. We can also speak to the corporations and force them to stop using palm oil. We have power and we can change things by being conscious buyers.
The other reason it’s so important right now, is if we can stop the use of illegal palm oil, we can stop it before it really gets out of control. With much of Asia experiencing rising incomes, it means billions of people will soon be able to afford the products we’ve taken for granted for decades. The sheer scale of demand guarantees that our world will be fucked, and we must do something before this happens.
But I am getting frustrated. Is anyone listening? Do we appreciate that we all have to take responsibility? Do we know we are the change needed? I don’t know but I’ll keep writing about it. I don’t know what else to do. I just wish more people started to care.
In the meantime, my eyes are itchy, puffy and weepy, my head is aching, and the entire family feels like shit. The good thing is none of us suffers from asthma, so it’s uncomfortable but not deadly for us. However, many of my friends living here are having a much worse time of it. Then of course, I cannot forget that much of the world’s population live in these appalling conditions all year round – not because of bush-fires in Sumatra and Borneo, but because of horrible pollution. It’s revolting. It’s changed my mind about living in India one day. I just couldn’t cope with it.
If you’re in this region, and suffering, I send my love (Pamela and Sheona I’m thinking of you). If you’re not in this region and wondering what we’re all carrying on about, come and see it for yourself – we’ve got another week of it scheduled. I’m sure the flights are cheap. It’s truly horrendous. But whether you come and see if for yourself or not, please, make a difference. You can. You just need to think that little bit more about what you buy.
The problem is most of my community are already conscious consumers. We think about what we buy and its impact on the world. So we all need to take the conversation beyond us. We need to help those who don’t see the light. Many people I speak with are completely oblivious to the idea of conscious buying. Can you help me speak to them? This bloghad a lot of research if it helps.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the haze being over, but we’ve got another week of it, so we’ll have to get through it. Then again, I’m sure the government is doing everything in its power to sort this out before the Singapore Grand Prix. This dazzling city can’t be blanketed in haze when the world turns its attention on it right?
Yours, without the bollocks

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