We left Stockholm two weeks ago to start our five-year journey. Packing a bag and knowing that we won’t return “home” is quite a strange feeling. In fact, there is no home, there are plenty of homes. Right now our home is in Novena, Singapore, and we like it, except the haze that has engulfed Singapore since we arrived. Indonesian rainforests are on fire on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo, the smoke from which covers Singapore and the rest of the region.
When writing about our five-year project, we said, “The best way to learn about a place and understand its people is to live there, eat the food, breathe the air.” Little did we know quite how literal that last part would become.
The haze is on everyone’s mind in Singapore and has made us learn more about palm oil plantations, the pulpwood industry and deforestation in Indonesia as well as local political and economic issues. Clearing land by fire is fast and one tenth of the cost of using machinery. Unclear land ownership makes it hard to enforce bans on burning.
We’re looking at the myENV app several times a day to see the latest pollutant standard index. Commonly known in Singapore as PSI, it’s an air quality index combining six different air pollutants. Above PSI 100 is considered unhealthy and that’s when we try to stay indoors or wear a respirator. We’re looking forward to see the blue sky again and to be able to take a run outside.