Hazy Days Again!
Last semester we had many hazy days here (haze is what I call smog- the days that pollution levels are high and the air looks bad, smells bad, and causes sore throats, headaches, and more). Some were so bad that school was canceled while others resulted in outdoor activities being curtailed (hard when your gym has no walls, some grades eat in an area with no walls, all hallways are outdoors, etc). It was mostly due to palm plantations burning in Indonesia (set to clear land for more palm plantations). We became very aware of which companies used palm products, which ones were “clean” in terms of their practices, and which ones were harder to define. After Christmas it was still bad, but since mid to late January it has been better here- until this week.
I could feel the haze before I knew it was back. I have a tickly cough, sore throat, and feel like my eyes are full of grit. One of my students emailed me yesterday to let me know she had a fever because of the haze, so had to stay home. This afternoon we got an email from our principal reminding us of the levels of pollution and what impact each would have on our activities. Here’s the problem- the levels seem to not be measured accurately here. Another problem is the air is affecting us all the time, even when it is “safe”. I had half of my left lung removed when I was 13, so I am susceptible to breathing problems it seems, as I can feel it even inside. Another effect is the visual- the sky is solid gray on hazy days- it is pretty grim. Students suffer (and so do teachers and parents) when students have to be confined indoors.
Already I can feel we are bracing ourselves for the bad days. People are not planning on the weather, which is unusual here, because the patterns are pretty reliable. What are we doing to our world?