07 October 2015
Smoke from Indonesia has again brought large parts of Malaysia and Singapore to a halt. By the morning of September 24 the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) had crossed into the “Very Unhealthy” range on its way to a “Hazardous” and a 24-hour PSI rating that hovered from 264-321 , the highest levels this year. Conditions have fluctuated since, but the haze continues to shake both countries and impact their economic life.
The effects of this type of haze are increasingly familiar. Schools are being closed, the most vulnerable becoming sick, healthcare services are stressed, and businesses that remain open are seeing commerce decline. The financial costs will prove significant when the numbers are in. The 1997 episode , which until recent years set the benchmark for haze pollution , likely cost Singapore upwards of 250 million Singapore dollars in health expenditures, tourism reductions and lost productivity. The episode in June and July of 2013 was far worse, with financial impacts that are still being assessed. Beyond the dollars and cents, the haze impacts the quality of life for Singaporeans and the island’s visitors in ways that only the experienced can appreciate.
… Jackson Ewing is director of Asian Sustainability at the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. He is also an adjunct fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
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Last updated on 13/11/2015