Thursday, October 22, 2015

Indonesia's Peat Fires Burn Uncontrolled

Indonesia is producing more greenhouse gas from its uncontrolled peat fires than Japan produces in year [chart]. Attempts to control the deliberately set fires to clear land for monoculture have proved feeble to non-existent. Toxic smoke from the carbon-rich peat--a geologic precursor to coal--is choking Southeast Asia. Officials estimate the smoke will last into 2016. New hotspots are erupting faster than meagerly equipped firefighters can put them out. The problem being that peat burns underground and is difficult to reach. Also dry El Niño conditions delaying the wet season are contributing to the problem. Indonesia has asked help from foreign governments.  Australia contributed a water bomber aircraft for a week and proposes to lease more. Russia contributed two water bomber aircraft bringing the total number of fixed-wing and helicopters to just twenty-eight.

Indonesia has revoked the licenses of Mega Alam Sentosa and Dyera Hutan Sestari the forest ministry told reporters Monday.  Four companies were ordered to suspend operations for allegedly causing the fires. Satellites have detected 1,729 fires across Indonesia on Wednesday more than any other single day in two years. Most are feeding on peat lands in South Sumatra, South and Central Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. Indonesia is covered in a thick haze according to reports.  Fire related economic costs are expected to exceed $14bn