Haze Season Solution | God's World News
Haze Season Solution
News Shorts
Posted: June 18, 2024
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    A member of the Pakanyo tribe stands in the haze of a fire in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. (AP/Sakchai Lalit)
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    A fire burns in the forests of northern Thailand. (AP/Sakchai Lalit)
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    Pakanyo villages have practiced controlled burning for generations. (AP/Sakchai Lalit)
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In northern Thailand, haze season comes just before planting season. Villagers cut shrubs and trees. They burn away last season’s corn stubble. The fire prepares fields for new crops. It also creates some of the world’s worst air pollution. Researchers think a fire-charting app could help.

Haze season has a long history in northern Thailand. People of the Pakanyo tribe have burned fields for generations. In their culture, fire stands for growth and renewal. It’s a low-cost way to clear fields. It also helps prevent out-of-control forest fires.

But there’s a reason it’s called “haze season.” This season lasts from February to April. During burning, gray smoke blurs the mountains. The polluted air reaches the nearby city of Chiang Mai.

The World Health Organization sets a recommended limit for air pollution. During haze season, Chiang Mai’s air reaches 20 times the suggested limit. For some people, breathing and swallowing turn painful. Yikes!

Most of the pollution comes from crop burning. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin wants to clean the air. That’s easier said than done.

Some suggest tilling fields instead of burning. That means grinding last year’s stubble into the soil. But northern Thailand is hilly. That makes tilling difficult. And many farmers don’t have the equipment to till.

Leaders have already tried to solve the problem with laws. In 2013, they set a “zero-burn period.” But many farmers just did their burning before and after the period. Haze season lasted even longer!

Now officials try a new plan. Want to burn? Register online.

Farmers sign up to burn in the FireD app. It uses weather and satellite information to predict good burning times. Windy days can help blow smoke away. Dry days might make burning more dangerous.

But for many villagers, it’s strange to ask permission to do what they’ve done for years. Some don’t understand the new policy.

“If we hand them the document or registration form, they don’t know what to do with it,” says the Pakanyo chief. “Often they just throw the papers away.”

About half of all fires still go unregistered. Even so, researchers say it’s a step in the right direction.

Have you read about burning stubble in the Bible? Paul wrote about the foundation on which we build our lives. When trials come, worldly things burn away like stubble in a field. But with Christ as our foundation, we can stand strong. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)