Singapore is suffering from a serious smog problem that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
To get an idea of how bad it is, check out the picture above. It shows a man looking — or rather, trying to look — at the skyline of the Singapore business district today.
For a city that prides itself on its livability, it’s an embarrassing problem. Worse still, it appears to have been caused by a neighboring country.
Much of the problem seems to to be smoke caused by illegal forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the BBC reports, where blazes have been started to clear land for plantations. Singapore’s Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted a Facebook message today that said the city-state was urging “urgent and definitive action by Indonesia to tackle the problem at source. Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry, distressed and concerned.”
“We will insist on definitive action,” Balakrishnan added. “No country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing.”
This satellite image, posted by Balakrishnan, reveals hot spots on Indonesia’s Sumatra island that are most likely forest fires:
The BBC reports that the Singapore’s pollution standards index reached 371 on Thursday, well into hazardous levels, before falling to around 300. To put that in context, it’s similar to some of the air pollution levels seen in Beijing’s notorious smog problem earlier this year, and significantly higher than Singapore’s previous record of 226 from 1997.
Balakrishnan warned residents today to limit “prolonged or heavy outdoor activities” and said that the haze will “persist or even worsen before improving.