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Staying aware of our surroundings is important. It’s also important to know what’s going on in the world beyond your line of sight. To keep you up to date, there have been intense forest fires going on in Indonesia for the past few months (since August, to be exact). You may have heard about the luscious green Borneo forest that countless lifeforms choose to call home. Sadly, a lot of that is coming to an end, and here’s how:

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. The quickest way to find empty land that is fertile for growing timber trees and crops is by burning already-there greenery. Usually, plantation companies set fire to specific areas in a given forest. Once it’s all burned out, they use the ground underneath to grow their crops for the palm oil. Unfortunately, this time it has turned out not quite as according to plan: the dehydration involved from previous flames has sparked fires unlike anything Indonesia has been exposed to before.

This affects more than just the poor animals living in the forests; people near the blazing heat and carbon exhaust have begun to complain about health issues, too. More than half a million people have reported respiratory problems. Children wear masks to school to prevent themselves from breathing in too much of the toxic air, and innumerable schools and events have been delayed or even cancelled because of the dangerous conditions. Now we know this must change, which arises the question: what can be done?

Rain helps a lot in putting fires out. People are also doing what they can: firefighters are constantly on the scene and even common citizens use their water supply to put out the fires they can help control. However, in the larger scheme of things, we can learn a valuable lesson from this tragic situation. We should be encouraging agricultural groups and farmers to use more ecological harvesting methods. Since city smog also plays a part in this, we can control our usage of dealings that add to pollution. Now that you know about the happenings around the world, do your part! In the long run, saving and protecting the environment is essentially saving the lives of millions of people in the future. Let’s go green to keep our world clean!

Journalist: Hana Elmessiry