Forest fires have been blazing in Indonesia throughout the year, making it likely that the country will experience more fires in 2015 than it did in 2006, one of its worst fire seasons on record. This year’s fires have led to a public health crisis in the area, with thousands needing hospital treatment, and the carbon dioxide from the flames has caused Indonesia to surpass the United States as the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The deforestation is threatening already-squeezed wildlife, notably the orangutan.
Many of these fires were started illegally by private companies in order to clear space for plantations, and over half of the fires are on tropical peatlands. These areas store some of the highest quantities of carbon on the planet and also emit methane gas. Global Forest Watch put together an interactive map showing active fires throughout the world, and the 3 Stats this week look at the significance of Indonesia’s fires to the global ecosystem.
[Georgia Perry is a freelance writer based in Oakland, California. She's contributed to several print and online magazines including, The Atlantic, CityLab, Portland Monthly Magazine and the Portland Mercury. She was formerly a staff writer at the Santa Cruz Weekly in California. Follow her on Twitter @georguhperry.]