Thursday, November 05, 2015

Indonesia is Burning

The west's insatiable appetite for palm oil is almost directly responsible for one of the 21st Century's worst environmental disasters. Palm oil is used in approximately 40-50% of household products, including: baked goods, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste.

The world's largest producer of palm oil is Indonesia. To grow oil palms vast areas of tropical forest in Malaysia and Indonesia have been destroyed. The fastest way to clear land for new plantations is slash and burn. This year in Indonesia these forest fires, caused by slash and burn, have raged out of control.

For the last two months wide-spread fires have been burning out of control in Indonesia. The resulting haze from the fires has been affecting Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, causing respiratory health problems to half a million people.

Borneo is Burning is a story map examining the current situation in Southeast Asia. The map shows a heat map of fire incidence throughout the region. The heat map layers is actually a static layer, so it only shows the situation when the map was created. The situation is getting worse.

Visualoop has also been looking at the problems being caused by the haze in Singapore. #SGHaze Explained examines the Pollutant Standards Index readings in Singapore. The article also includes a map which actually shows a real-time look at the fire hotspots in the region. The map also includes an animated wind layer showing the latest wind direction forecasts from NOAA.

You are responsible for the loss of these natural habitats in Southeast Asia and for the current environmental crisis in the area. It is very hard to avoid palm oils, as they are present in so many products. But you have to try. You should only buy products which contain certified sustainable palm oil.

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