Is It Clear?
Call it what you may, haze or smoke which has been polluting this region for weeks now is not created by Mother Nature but by Man himself. One thing is clear; our air is so foul and "poisonin' my oxygen" that it is frustrating everyone in the area. Worse, it is making every creature, great and small, sick.
Every day fires are destroying the beautiful forests of Indonesia's South Sumatra, Riau and Kalimantan and simultaneously endangering the health of its own people and surrounding neighbours, Malaysia and little red dot, Singapore.
I'm a hungry planet
The lyrics above were written by The Byrds way back in 1970 and described a situation that is still persisting today. Hungry Planet is one of many songs that deals with an on-going ecological disaster and the problem will never be resolved unless a certain country follows its own laws which forbid the use of fire to clear land.
Another thing is clear; we can't do anything because Singapore is like a David standing in front of a cigarette smoking Goliath. We have to inhale what Goliath exhales, and the *problem has persisted from as far back as 1972, more than 40 years since.
The country in question has promised it will enforce its laws but nothing's been done so far. A pop group from 1970, The Moody Blues, reminds us of the foulness in the air in a composition called, How Is It:
How is it we are here on this path we walk
In this world of pointless fear filled with empty talk
Descend from the ape as scientist-priest all think
Will they save us in the end, we're trembling on the brink (2).
Like The Byrds and The Moody Blues, many famous pop composers and lyricists get serious and write about how Man has savaged and ravaged Mother Earth. So while some readers think that the West are only writing frivolous rock and roll music these same pop stars are doing the world a favour by warning how our selfish attitude towards the environment is destroying and killing it:
Now the sun has come to earth
Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death
Death comes in a blinding flash
Of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash
And the sun has come to earth (3).
Only last night (5th October 2015), I saw our local news headlines on television feature young children in hospitals with asthma and with some seniors suffering from a skin ailment agitated by the haze. The Byrds lamented in the same song that this condition is:
Diggin' into my skin
According to an **article, two-thirds of the fires in Indonesia occur on peat wetlands. It is not widely known that Indonesia has the largest tropical peat wetlands in the world but these places are definitely rich in biological diversity. Imagine the devastation going on at the moment with the fires in full force and its outcome afterwards.
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
Ah oh mercy, mercy me
Ah things ain't what they used to be, no no
Radiation under ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh mercy, mercy me. (6)
How long more do we have to take the haze and the continuing saga of earth's destruction? I remain optimistic so let's leave the last words to Tommy James and the Shondells:
Where Do The Children Play - Cat Stevens
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
Don't Go Near the Water - The Beach Boys
Hole In The Sky - Black Sabbath
Nobody's Fault - Aerosmith
Earth Anthem - The Turtles
Every Day Every Day Celebrate - John Denver
Sweet Baby James -James Taylor
Traffic Jam - James Taylor
Down By The River - Albert Hammond
(1) Hungry Planet - The Byrds
**Straits Times Press: S. Jayakumar and Tommy Koh; The haze, international law and global cooperation - 6/10/2015 - Pg A20 Opinion.
**Straits Times Press: Bustar Maitar; Instead of pointing fingers, start restoring peatlands - 7/10/2015 - PgA21 Opinion.
You Tube Video: Crystal Blue Persuasion- Tommy James and The Shondells
Images, Chart and gif: Google.