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Smoke, Smog, Dust 2012 Chiang Mai


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Haze still exceeds safe levels in parts of North

THE NATION ON SUNDAY

CHIANG MAI:-- Fine particle dust in several northern provinces exceeds safety standards, the Pollution Control Department warned yesterday.

PM10 dust exceeded the accepted safety level of 120 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/cu m) and could affect people's health, the department website warned.

It urged state agencies to control outdoor burning, which is the key reason for haze in the North.

Fine particle dust was highest near Lamphun stadium yesterday with a reported 208 ug/cu m, while Phrae was close to 150 ug/cu m, and Mae Hong Son reported 131 ug/cu m. Lampang's City Shrine area reported 132 ug/cu m while its Tambon Sompad reported 145 ug/cu m and Tambon Ban Thasi was 164 ug/cu m. In Chiang Mai, City Hall area reported 179 ug/cu m and downtown Yupparaj Wittayalai School reported 161 ug/cu m

In Lamphun all six districts - Li, Thung Hua Chang, Ban Hong, Mae Tha, Wiang Nong Long and Muang - were over the safety limit for fine particle dust and there was more white haze and poor visibility, so the provincial public health office urged people not to exercise outdoors. An informed source said many respiratory patients sought treatment from doctors at state and private hospitals while officials urged people to stop outdoor burning.

In Chiang Mai, the provincial zoo and Night Safari implemented more measures - opening water sprinklers to increase humidity and adding vitamins for small animals to boost their immunity - to help them cope with the dust.

Chiang Mai Airport director Rawiwan Netrakhawesna said the haze did not affect flights landing or taking off, being cancelled or delayed, because pilot visibility was still good, beyond 2km.

Song Klinpathum, chief of the Northern Royal Rainmaking Operations Centre, said a rain-making flight scheduled on March 1 to lessen haze in 17 northern provinces, would be postponed to March 5, as farmers were harvesting garlic and onions.

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-- The Nation 2012-02-19

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So is this the works of Pyromaniacs ..???... WTH??? Rice fields and other wahtever fields they burn is from old age methods to renourish the land ... burning forests ....??? And again no government department can control one iota of all this ... wacko.png

The air certainly got bad fast this year. I got up early yesterday morning in Mae Taeng and went for mountain bike ride on a beautiful trail on a ridge. There were several kilometers of burned forest where likely a lone person walked along setting fires as he went. Some of these folks live so far out that they don't have televisions or radios so they are unaware of any problem and I am sure this is the same in across the borders in the whole region. Let's hope for winds or rain.

I don't know if they are pyromaniacs, but it is a fact that humans do set fire to large portions of the forest and farm land in the entire region. There is not much education on not doing it, and I have never heard of any enforcement action.

Priceless.... Thank You for that summary.

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They do this every year at the same time, thais love lighting fires to burn thier rubbish. Have some friends over from Aus for 5 days and they are not impressed with Thailand at all. They were saying it is extreemly polluted and dirty and they haven't seen the sun for the 4 days that they have been here. Just wonder what other tourists are thinking and what stories of Thailand they will take home. This annual burning of the country must be harming the tourist industry. The average life span of a male in Aust is 78 and in Thai it is 65 I can see why as they are killing themselves. Thank god we have a clothes dryer and airconditioning they are both working overtime. I love Thailand but it is only pleasant to be outside during the wet season less pollution and smog, well in Chiangmai anyway.

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Oh dear. I am about to fly to CNX tomorrow for my first visit there, and have accommodation booked for the week... Should I just cut my losses and go back to Samui?

Yep.

Researching flights out of here right now. For myself, I think I can handle this, but I have kids, and exposing them to what has been described as the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day is ridiculous.

It usually doesn't set in this early... I am hoping for some rain...

Oh dear. I am about to fly to CNX tomorrow for my first visit there, and have accommodation booked for the week... Should I just cut my losses and go back to Samui?

No. Just yesterday we had a visitor from Bangkok and he was raving about the weather; cool and dry, very comfortable.

Many people don't even notice it. When comparing with the wet season then the views really aren't all that great, but the weather really isn't too bad right now. Could be a lot hotter.

Well that's 50/50... Based on doji's topic in the Chiang Mai Forum, and the fact that I'm kinda curious, it looks like we're on our way. If we find it bad, home is only an hour flight away, or we could just jump on a train and head to Sukhothai and come back later in the year.

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Don't count on Sukhothai being much better, my wife's family live there and reports are not great. But you should come regardless, you'll enjoy the lower humidity and the pollution can diappear as quickly as it arrived.

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Do any of the Thai Bashers here have the slightest idea what the consequences of NOT burning every year would be?

Is it a secret or are you going to enllighten them?

Note I said "them", because I don't place myself in the Thai Basher category. Nor am I a Thai Basher Basher. I'd just like to know what consequences are going to befall Thailand if they stop burning, because most of the rest of the world seems to have figured a way around them...

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Excuse me but if you have lived here for the past 5 years you would have also noticed that the pattern continuously changes... FYKI this year the burning started around mid October !!! As soon as Chiang Mai was over the Flood Shock that we had end Sept and it was dry enough they were already Burning big time ... don't know where you live but maybe need a little reality check at your end...?? Last year the burning started end Dec and went on till end Feb and then for some odd reason crazy rains kicked in and there was no more burning .... Again... where do you live ???

Are you kidding ... I am living here for 5 years now and the burning keeps starting earlier and earlier every year ... Hell, it started in October 2011 here in Cm as soon as the flooding was over and there was no more rain .... not as bad as it is now but started then in any case.... previous years started only in Feb / March then became Nov , then became Nov/ Dec and now this year started in Oct and has now escalated till now and in a furious unseen way ... have not seen in 5 years the likes of it for the past 2 weeks ... it is in fact scary....!! I have guests here right now from Canada and they are just hacking away and find it so difficult to breathe to the point where I had to go out and buy Inhalers for them .... It is really bad !!!

First burn season in Chaing Mai and today is the first time I've seen it like this. Is THIS what it's like through the whole burn season, or is today worse than normal?

Also, where are you guys getting the satellite burn images?

Why didn't you tell your guests to come some other time? Everyone who lives here knows that the end of February and all of March are the worst times.

I've lived in Chiang Mai much longer than you have. The end of February through all of March are the worst times for burning. Everyone who is NOT on Prozac knows this.

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Is anyone more familiar in reading the Thai http://aqmthai.com Air Quality repert website than I am?

Go to the site, click on the AQI upper left and you'll be amazed what the site is saying - at least by my interpretation:

Air quality index is a 97 today, or, just at the top end of the good range. Where the heck are they measuring air particulates - the Bahamas?

Here's a screen capture link:

ip80y.jpg

Edited by Tywais
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Mesquite... you either took fast learning reading skills and obviously fialed or do not know how to read... please reread my posy and post again ... I have nothing better to do all day but read replies from people who do not know how to read to begin with ....:-))))

Are you kidding ... I am living here for 5 years now and the burning keeps starting earlier and earlier every year ... Hell, it started in October 2011 here in Cm as soon as the flooding was over and there was no more rain .... not as bad as it is now but started then in any case.... previous years started only in Feb / March then became Nov , then became Nov/ Dec and now this year started in Oct and has now escalated till now and in a furious unseen way ... have not seen in 5 years the likes of it for the past 2 weeks ... it is in fact scary....!! I have guests here right now from Canada and they are just hacking away and find it so difficult to breathe to the point where I had to go out and buy Inhalers for them .... It is really bad !!!

Why didn't you tell your guests to come some other time? Everyone who lives here knows that the end of February and all of March are the worst times.

1. You have modified the quote to make it look like i wrote all of that. I did not write the first 80% of the quote above that is attributed to me.

2. I have not "fialed" any speed reading course.

3. I read your "posy" and understand what you are saying.

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Well the main thing is, i can't F****** breathe, very sensetive to this stuff, is there any constructive thing we can do about this? we know all the bla bla bla's and so on,but what can we do?, to help them cure this problem, so we can continue to live here, realizing they don't listen to us or take our advice....????

Edited by blabla1
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Excuse me but if you have lived here for the past 5 years you would have also noticed that the pattern continuously changes... FYKI this year the burning started around mid October !!! As soon as Chiang Mai was over the Flood Shock that we had end Sept and it was dry enough they were already Burning big time ... don't know where you live but maybe need a little reality check at your end...?? Last year the burning started end Dec and went on till end Feb and then for some odd reason crazy rains kicked in and there was no more burning .... Again... where do you live ???

Firstly, it might be wise to "turn down your volume" a bit. There are a lot of posters on this forum that have lived here a lot longer than five years, some for decades.

Secondly, please explain why, if "this year the burning started around mid October !!!" the pollution level for October of last year (I assume that you mean 2011) was 18% below the 2002-2011 average (November was even lower)? Incidentally, the whole of last year (i.e. 2011) was the least polluted since the Pollution Control Department started posting their measurements in the late '90s. There was not one single day in excess of 120 µg/m3 (the Thai standards limit), in fact the highest value measured during the whole year was 92.0.

The above data are from the measuring station at the Provincial offices, at Yupparaj College in the old town, the October value was 25% below the 2002-2011 average.

/ Priceless

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TAT: Tourism in Chiang Mai not affected by haze pollution

BANGKOK, 19 February 2012 (NNT) – The haze pollution in Chiang Mai poses no short-term threat to the province's tourism sector; however, a quick solution is called for in order to avoid any long-term impacts.

Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai office Chalermsak Suranan has disclosed that the haze, which still covers Chiang Mai province, does not at present have any significant impact on provincial tourism. Tourists are still expected to flow into the northern province at a normal rate, especially with the ongoing Royal Flora 2011. However, Mr. Chalermsak feared that if the haze pollution persists, it might cause damage to the sector in the future. Thus, he urged all relevant sectors to come up with a speedy solution to the problem.

Mr. Chalermsak added that after the Royal Flora 2011 ended on 14 March, Chiang Mai province would host a large Thai New Year, or Songkran, Festival in April, followed by a golf tourism campaign in May and June, in order to maintain a year-round tourism promotion for the northern province.

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-- NNT 2012-02-19 footer_n.gif

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Excuse me but if you have lived here for the past 5 years you would have also noticed that the pattern continuously changes... FYKI this year the burning started around mid October !!! As soon as Chiang Mai was over the Flood Shock that we had end Sept and it was dry enough they were already Burning big time ... don't know where you live but maybe need a little reality check at your end...?? Last year the burning started end Dec and went on till end Feb and then for some odd reason crazy rains kicked in and there was no more burning .... Again... where do you live ???

Firstly, it might be wise to "turn down your volume" a bit. There are a lot of posters on this forum that have lived here a lot longer than five years, some for decades.

Secondly, please explain why, if "this year the burning started around mid October !!!" the pollution level for October of last year (I assume that you mean 2011) was 18% below the 2002-2011 average (November was even lower)? Incidentally, the whole of last year (i.e. 2011) was the least polluted since the Pollution Control Department started posting their measurements in the late '90s. There was not one single day in excess of 120 µg/m3 (the Thai standards limit), in fact the highest value measured during the whole year was 92.0.

The above data are from the measuring station at the Provincial offices, at Yupparaj College in the old town, the October value was 25% below the 2002-2011 average.

/ Priceless

Actually, I thought the air quality has been really good this year until very recently.

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I came back yesterday to CM after a short trip, and I certainly agree that the pollution level today was highly unpleasant, to say the least! (Also officially classified as "out of bounds".) Just to comment on some of what has been said earlier in this thread, however:

First some standards and recommendations from different organisations:

post-20094-0-28547200-1329570482_thumb.j

Note that the EU standard (50 µg/m3) may be exceeded 35 times/year, i.e. what the standard means is that the 36th highest value in a calendar year may not exceed that value. In theory there could be several days of 300-500 without exceeding the standard!

Second a rather useful map of current/recent fires from University of Maryland ( http://firefly.geog....=5&i=er&l=ad,ct ):

post-20094-0-56590400-1329570742_thumb.j

Third a table of monthly and yearly averages in CM for the last ten years (N/A means that >25% of observations for that year/month are missing). Note that the burning (or at least the pollution) does not start earlier and earlier for each year:

post-20094-0-64250600-1329570972_thumb.j

Fourth a graph showing moving twelve-month average levels since mid-2004 and, maybe more interestingly, a trend line for that time. Note that the trend has fallen from 56 in mid 2004 to 35 at the end of 2011, i.e. a decrease by more than a third. Quite an amazing improvement in such a relatively short period of time. (Maybe one should not be too quick in saying that the Thais don't do anything about the problem.):

post-20094-0-11072200-1329571803_thumb.j

Fifth for the poster who was grateful for living in Bangkok rather than CM, here's a comparison of average pollution levels for CM and Din Daeng district of Bangkok:

post-20094-0-98782100-1329571123_thumb.j

From this graph you can also see that the worst of the year in CM is normally the latter part of February (where we are now) and most or all of March.

Sixth and finally, here are the numbers for the Upper North over the last four weeks or so (as they are a bit difficult to find and understand on the new PCD website):

post-20094-0-59436800-1329571375_thumb.j

/ Priceless

Thank you Priceless. Your annual sources are up to par. And yes, last year was like "a breath of fresh air". Have the house air filters running full blast! The best one can describe Din Daeng (even on a good day) is awful at roadside.

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I left Chiang Mai in 2007 because of the smoke. We were just too sick for too long. That year 200,000 people in the province were treated for smoke inhalation, & 58 died of heart attacks. I still have the photos taken from the plane as we took off from CM: the whole airport blanketed in grey-orange smoke.

I realised nothing was going to change when the governor announced that the smoke was caused by Korean barbeque restaurants, and ordered them all closed. After that he ordered the fire trucks into the streets to spray water everywhere, to moisten the air and 'bring rain'. (This somehow reminds me of Chalerm's statements that 'there are no terrorists in Bangkok' and 'everything is under complete control'.)

I still love CM & owe it a lot. But the smoke did make living there impossible. Now I'm in Cambodia, where there is much less rice-burning & consequently no smoke problem - at least in the areas I've seen.

Teaching farmers to plough the stubble back into the soil may take a little work, but as witness to many agricultural projects, I think it can be done.

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Secondly, please explain why, if "this year the burning started around mid October !!!" the pollution level for October of last year (I assume that you mean 2011) was 18% below the 2002-2011 average (November was even lower)? Incidentally, the whole of last year (i.e. 2011) was the least polluted since the Pollution Control Department started posting their measurements in the late '90s. There was not one single day in excess of 120 µg/m3 (the Thai standards limit), in fact the highest value measured during the whole year was 92.0.

The above data are from the measuring station at the Provincial offices, at Yupparaj College in the old town, the October value was 25% below the 2002-2011 average.

/ Priceless

Annabel is correct, the ricefield burning to the east of the city started soon after the harvest in October, & continued well into December. If you live & work out in those areas you certainly notice it. Going by the figures you quote, it's obvious that this burning doesn't affect the whole valley, especially where the monitoring stations are. For me, where I live SE of the city, it's been a worse than average dry season, pollution wise.

January was OK, the last 2 weeks of January exceptionally clear. The last 2 weeks have seen the air quality deteriorating until we got the real smog last week.

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Secondly, please explain why, if "this year the burning started around mid October !!!" the pollution level for October of last year (I assume that you mean 2011) was 18% below the 2002-2011 average (November was even lower)? Incidentally, the whole of last year (i.e. 2011) was the least polluted since the Pollution Control Department started posting their measurements in the late '90s. There was not one single day in excess of 120 µg/m3 (the Thai standards limit), in fact the highest value measured during the whole year was 92.0.

The above data are from the measuring station at the Provincial offices, at Yupparaj College in the old town, the October value was 25% below the 2002-2011 average.

/ Priceless

Annabel is correct, the ricefield burning to the east of the city started soon after the harvest in October, & continued well into December. If you live & work out in those areas you certainly notice it. Going by the figures you quote, it's obvious that this burning doesn't affect the whole valley, especially where the monitoring stations are. For me, where I live SE of the city, it's been a worse than average dry season, pollution wise.

January was OK, the last 2 weeks of January exceptionally clear. The last 2 weeks have seen the air quality deteriorating until we got the real smog last week.

Living SE of the city, maybe the Lamphun data are more relevant to you. You can compare in the below table and see that the Lamphun air quality over the last 3+ years has been considerably worse than that of Chiang Mai:

post-20094-0-05202900-1329639475_thumb.j

Average pollution about 25% higher and the number of "bad days" twice as high as CM sad.png

/ Priceless

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Anyway.. Just as I already mentioned a couple days ago: it comes and goes in spikes that will become more frequent and of higher intensity over the next couple weeks.

But it is in no way unusual, it's not 'starting earlier', and in fact it's getting better over time.

Just today you could visibly see it clear up, note that this happened WITHOUT the need for rain. It just clears up again. You can see this in the clarity of the views, that you can see the mountains again, and that the sun is a lot brighter, causing today to end up a pretty hot day.

The numbers -of course- back this up. It's a little tiring to go through this debate every year, with all kinds of Chiang Mai newbies suddenly thinking they're discovering an outrageous phenomenon for the first time. It's even funnier when the conversation happens in a bar with someone, and they're smoking cigarettes! rolleyes.gif

post-64232-0-00850500-1329642900_thumb.p

Edited by WinnieTheKhwai
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As tourism is significant to the Thailand economy, the government was quite upset with the terrorist warning from the US to its citizens. They, of course, said the warning was overstated. Then "bam", the chickens came home to roost last week. A lesson learned...

So many on this tread are asking what can we do.

Farangs, write your respective country's embassy, and politly but firmly explain the critical health threat posed to citizens from your country living in Thailand or citizens planning on travelling there. Recommend that a travel health advisory be issued. If you are Thai, write your government.

Americans, here are the Facebook links to the US embassy in Bangkok and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. It takes a minute to voice your concern and many voices may just have an impact.

https://www.facebook.com/usembassybkk

https://www.facebook.com/chiangmai.usconsulate

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As tourism is significant to the Thailand economy, the government was quite upset with the terrorist warning from the US to its citizens. They, of course, said the warning was overstated. Then "bam", the chickens came home to roost last week. A lesson learned...

So many on this tread are asking what can we do.

Farangs, write your respective country's embassy, and politly but firmly explain the critical health threat posed to citizens from your country living in Thailand or citizens planning on travelling there. Recommend that a travel health advisory be issued. If you are Thai, write your government.

Americans, here are the Facebook links to the US embassy in Bangkok and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. It takes a minute to voice your concern and many voices may just have an impact.

https://www.facebook.com/usembassybkk

https://www.facebook...mai.usconsulate

Well as we were going over the hill from Pai on our way South we must have seen 3 dozen silver vans going the other way and wondering <deleted> they were doing. Maybe LOS has added pollution tourism to sex and eco tourism.

I have mixed feelings about the burning, which is going to be much worse this year mainly due to accumulated fuel from last year. If they don't burn, as in the US, sooner or later a lightning strike will cause a catastrophic destruction of the forest, (as in the US). So I think it may actually be good forest management but I'm no expert. Most of the expats I know who can leave at this time, do.

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Anyway.. Just as I already mentioned a couple days ago: it comes and goes in spikes that will become more frequent and of higher intensity over the next couple weeks.

But it is in no way unusual, it's not 'starting earlier', and in fact it's getting better over time.

Just today you could visibly see it clear up, note that this happened WITHOUT the need for rain. It just clears up again. You can see this in the clarity of the views, that you can see the mountains again, and that the sun is a lot brighter, causing today to end up a pretty hot day.

The numbers -of course- back this up. It's a little tiring to go through this debate every year, with all kinds of Chiang Mai newbies suddenly thinking they're discovering an outrageous phenomenon for the first time. It's even funnier when the conversation happens in a bar with someone, and they're smoking cigarettes! rolleyes.gif

post-64232-0-00850500-1329642900_thumb.p

The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

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[The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Usually it is the presence or absence of an inversion layer.

The authorities? cheesy.gif

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Anyway.. Just as I already mentioned a couple days ago: it comes and goes in spikes that will become more frequent and of higher intensity over the next couple weeks.

But it is in no way unusual, it's not 'starting earlier', and in fact it's getting better over time.

Just today you could visibly see it clear up, note that this happened WITHOUT the need for rain. It just clears up again. You can see this in the clarity of the views, that you can see the mountains again, and that the sun is a lot brighter, causing today to end up a pretty hot day.

The numbers -of course- back this up. It's a little tiring to go through this debate every year, with all kinds of Chiang Mai newbies suddenly thinking they're discovering an outrageous phenomenon for the first time. It's even funnier when the conversation happens in a bar with someone, and they're smoking cigarettes! rolleyes.gif

post-64232-0-00850500-1329642900_thumb.p

The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Today a significant increase in breeze which improves it. The days when it is really bad the leaves on the trees hardly move.

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The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Just looked at the firemap

Comparing what it shows now for the "past 24 hrs", there appears to be a big increase in what was shown yesterday for the previous "past 24 hrs". Maybe we are seeing now the effects of a lull in the burning, to be followed by more smog. If you pull up the "past 48hrs" map there are far more red dots than orange :(

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I think its disgusting how this can happen every single year and the problem is just getting worst as the population increases and more areas are burnt.

People just don't care about it. Its a lazy persons way out. This practice is not in fact hundreds of years old. The burning of rice fields is quite a new idea. Years ago they used to use buffalo to plough the stubble back into the ground. The forest fires used to be on much a smaller scale as the population of Thailand was much smaller before the population boom up till the 1970s.

They need to change attitudes to the environment and improve education in this area - starting at schools. Educate people to see what a bad effect its having on the environment and heath. The authorities could impose strict fines on people starting fires also designate smokeless zones in urban areas. Its not difficult. But I know Thailand will not do a thing about it as usual.

This country is beautiful, but in a few more decades much of it will be spoiled with uncontrolled development, urban sprawl and the destruction of the remaining wild areas and its wildlife. Sadly this seems to be the story world over.

In my village everyone in burning anything and everything from rice fields, to roadside verges, bonfires and rubbish. Also rice fields and orchards are being cut, burn down and filled in for more and more shop-houses and housing estates.

I can imagine a future here in Chiang Mai when the pollution gets much worse and the effect of public health will be very serious, but still nothing will get done. Money and profit seem more important that human life.

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[The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Usually it is the presence or absence of an inversion layer.

Good thought, is there anyone out there with the interest and knowledge to explore/comment upon that aspect perhaps? I reckon it would be really really helpful if we could arrive at a point where there was a greater degree of predictability to the pollution problem other than its' February (or whatever month).

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I think its disgusting how this can happen every single year and the problem is just getting worst as the population increases and more areas are burnt.

Yes! Except.. that... it doesn't.

Read the whole topic. It's all here, specifically Priceless' post just on the last two pages.

People just don't care about it. Its a lazy persons way out. This practice is

Sorry, if you don't get the basic facts right then none else you write makes sense.

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[The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Usually it is the presence or absence of an inversion layer.

Good thought, is there anyone out there with the interest and knowledge to explore/comment upon that aspect perhaps? I reckon it would be really really helpful if we could arrive at a point where there was a greater degree of predictability to the pollution problem other than its' February (or whatever month).

Agreed; I think we all also agree it's weather circumstances that impact it, not any increase or reduction in field burning, which is pretty much a constant across the greater region.

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