The ever changing climate that is generally attributed either to the natural cycle, namely, El Nino, the build-up of green-house gases in the atmosphere, or to both, has been no longer the controlling factor in explaining the increase in the frequency of haze episodes in the south-western part of the South East Asia. Since 1982, the period between episodes has been reduced from once in nine years to once a year. There must have been other factors that compound the worsening environmental conditions: (i) the loss in the capacity of the natural forest eco system to recover itself in between dry and wet seasons, and (ii) not only the traditional slash-and-burn, but also the increase in and the extent of open burning of both forested and peat areas during the dry periods, particularly during the inter-monsoon period over the months of August to October.
|Established since 17 November 2015, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia Task Force on Haze (ASM H-TF) has been mandated to carry out intensive studies and review of the said episodes and to develop a position for the Academy, and hopefully, for the relevant Ministries, and thus, the Government of Malaysia. This task force is organised in three working groups: (i) assessment on air quality, haze episodes, and impacts on health, agriculture, transportation, tourism and other sectors of the economy, (ii) peat area management, and (iii) conversion of biomass-waste to bioenergy or materials.|
|The Task Force is to focus its works specifically on the need (i) to manage peat areas by improving water management not only during dry seasons but also possibly by channelling flood waters into peat areas, and any excess thereof, throughout the year; and (ii) to look into the techno-economic feasibility of biomass-waste utilization for bio-energy such as ethanol. The proposed solution rests not so much on enforcement within the existing policy and legal framework but the value it would create as such the biomass material after being cleared, not to be wasted nor to be burned off, but to be sent to centralised Waste-to-Energy Facilities for a fee paid by the owners of these facilities to settlers, farmers, or planters.|
|The purpose of this website is two-fold: it is as much to disseminate the findings of the Task Force and its Working Groups, while their studies and review are in progress, as to seek feedbacks or comments from all stakeholders and the public in general.|
|One and all are most welcome to share your thought and suggestions by writing in or in participating in a range of activities organised by ASM. Your invaluable contributions would certainly do help action toward zero emissions for our region to be free from haze.|
|Professor Dato' Ir Dr Abu Bakar Jaafar, PEng, FIEM, FASc
Chairman, ASM Haze Task Force