Recently, the world was horrified to hear the news that the Amazon Rainforest was undergoing a massive forest fire that may have been man made. What many are not aware of is that barely a month later another series of forest fires, with far more direct effects on the human populace, has broken out on the island of Sumatra, which is part of Indonesia.
Just like those in the Amazon, the jungles of Indonesia support a diverse ecosystem that is mostly unique to the island, such as the rare Sumatran orangutan and the critically endangered Sumatran rhino. Unlike the Amazon, Sumatra has a dense population situated near the forest. As a result, the recent forest fires have heavily affected the populace. Toxic fumes and carbon dioxide have flooded the air, making breathing strenuous for the populace. It has gotten so extreme that areas in Sumatra have been blanketed by a fog of red mist that blocks out the sun.
The forest fires were caused by a combination of Indonesia’s usage of slash-and-burn farming, a technique in which farmers burn vegetation before introducing new crops, and recent droughts. This technique of farming was originally used by the Mayan civilization, and is often used on areas with dense vegetation and low amounts of farmland.
“Mie Scattering” phenomenon occurs when sunlight strikes particles, such as those created by the wildfires e.g. dust, ash, and smoke. Due to the sunlight’s interaction with the particles, the Indonesian sky has turned a bright shade of scarlet.
These wildfires are important due to their inherent environmental effects. News of these fires isn’t as prevalent and widespread as the fires in Brazil, most likely due to the especially corrupt government of Indonesia as well as the country’s limited impact on the global world. Indonesia is known for its corrupt government practices and dark history, such as the government's propensity to accept bribes and the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-1966, in which the Communist Party of Indonesia was targeted, and eventually purged from the country. Raising awareness about these wildfires will allow more people to catch on to a potential solution.