standard Fires in Indonesia

Dense smoke clouds in central Sumatra, Indonesia produced by human-made fires, many of which are a result of palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil in the world. In February of this year air pollution levels were so high that the government of Riau had to call a state of emergency.

These NASA satellite images of thick smoke covering parts of Sumatra and neighbouring Malaysia illustrate the problem well:

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This is one of a large number of examples of high levels of air pollution in Asia, where 3.2 million people died from air pollution in 2010-11, a major public health problem for China and many other rapidly growing economies. This is why reducing air pollution is key to public health. It is a universal public health disaster that affects all industrialised parts of the world including the US and Europe.

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