Friday, September 18, 2009

Those Lazy Jerebu Days of Summer

For those who consider the tropics to be a paradise, here are two facts:

1. Vegetation grows fast here;

2. Some residents seem to live to burn that over-zealous vegetation. The result? Open-burning.

Of course, the sky these days is hazy (Malay, jerebu) mostly from the burning of the forests in Kalimantan (slash-and-burn agriculture), the Indonesian state on the island of Borneo which is, oh, several hundred kilometers across the South China Sea from those of us here on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Or it could be from the burning of the peat forests to the south of us, along the coast. Or it could be the countless fires set in yards everyday to burn little piles of leaves that have been raked up or cut from the aforementioned overzealous vegetation.

Whatever the case, here are some side-by-side photo comparisons to show you what the skies look like now. The ones on the left were taken this week. The ones on the right are from April of this year. Both sets were shot from the same position in the same direction, thus, making accurate side-by-side comparison.

I am sensitive to smoke, so these days give me a headache, literally. It is quite amazing what one sees being burned daily by local residents:

1. Newly cut (green, moist) vegetation [don't they know green = smoke?];
2. Small piles of leaves, I mean SMALL piles [cannot compile into one weekly burn?];
3. Baby diapers;
4. Plastic chairs;
5. Newspapers soaked in used motor oil;
6. Old couches;
7. Construction debris;
8. Tree stumps.

The old couches are the worst for they put off a very toxic and stinky smoke: plastic does not burn clean and releases toxins within the smoke. Used motor oil does also. The tree stumps and construction debris gets burned nightly until they are gone. This is also quite stinky for it is slow-burning and thus releases smoke all night long for days to weeks on end.

Come monsoon season, come quickly!!


  1. If only the Govt. would take on the initiative to teach the public, like Singapore.
    1) Make compost with the green leaves
    2)Start a community compost pile
    3)Use cloth diapers and save the disposable ones for special occasions like going out to town etc
    4)God, they are all over, aren't they?
    5)I don't think there is any law in M'sia that tells people how to get rid of these.
    6)Unfortunately, Asians do not like second-hand stuff. That is why garage Sale will never work there.
    7)a lot of these can be salvaged and sold again, like metal scraps.
    8)Makes wonderful table stands and chairs.

  2. To be fair, it seems worse here on the east coast than it did living in KL. Not all Malaysians are so burn-happy!