Climate warning
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Thailand 🇹🇭

Climate warning

Uncover all the ugly truths about air pollution in the Northern part of Thailand.

I used to live in Chiang Mai, the Northern part of Thailand (2016-2018). I thought I was fortunate to move away from the bustling metropolitan city of Bangkok to a place that had a city vibe while being close to nature, and rich with cultural diversity. I even thought to buy a house there! But suddenly, in March 2018, I witnessed the big mountains disappearing, hidden by the the massive little dust (PM 2.5) As a result, I coughed up blood due to smog and must flee away to protect my only lungs.
I grabbed my camera took photos to compare between beautiful and dusty Chiang Mai
I grabbed my camera took photos to compare between beautiful and dusty Chiang Mai

Although, I am not living there anymore, but my friends, family, and locals still struggle with hope that the haze would not come back again. I eventually moved to Sweden, one of the freshest air places in the world. The stark contrast even emphasized me the fact that, "We all have the right to breathe" and "Clean air is a fundamental human right."
Today (Aug 2023), I came across this documentary below "UNCOVER: Our House is on Fire #4" by The Standard Sustain. The video speaks directly to my heart, revealing the entire ugly chain behind the smog issue.

(The video is in Thai language, but here is the summary to give you an overview of what's happening.)
Each year in Thailand, as winter gives way to summer, the sky fills with PM2.5 dust particles, obscuring the once-beautiful landscape that residents of Northern Thailand were accustomed to. However, even when the dust settles, the consequences of PM2.5 pollution persist. These impacts are more severe than anticipated, and they are closely tied to Thailand's booming livestock industry, which ranks third globally and first in Asia for exporting chicken meat and animal foods.
This economic growth comes at the expense of losing forests and the well-being of people dealing with health problems caused by the PM2.5 crisis, without anyone taking responsibility. It's time for Thailand to confront and address this issue earnestly.
[The lung cancer death rate] Left: Southern regions | Right: Northern regions of Thailand
[The lung cancer death rate] Left: Southern regions | Right: Northern regions of Thailand

😷[TIMELINE] Why has Northern Thailand faced the heavy smog issue for years?
It all started with policy changes, moving from the government to private sectors and affecting the public.
1961: Government plan shifted to industrial agriculture from traditional farming.
1967: Contract farming expanded due to higher crop prices.
1975: CPF company introduced contract farming for livestock.
1989: Export-focused policy promoted corn for animal feed.
2006: PM2.5 pollution worsened.
2017: Agricultural Contract Farming Promotion Act passed. The government implemented policies such as exempting import duties on animal feed corn, maintaining a 0% tax rate as per the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement, and providing income guarantees, insurance coverage, and compensation for stockpiling animal feed corn.
In essence, the push for export-oriented, large-scale farming led to higher mono agriculture and increased demand for corn as animal feed. This type of farming, suited for elevated regions due to corn's low water requirements, drew locals and tribal communities with the promise of high returns from middle merchants. Many hill tribe people without citizenship in the Northern areas agreed due to lack of money. After harvesting, they would burn the land as a fast track to regenerate it. The systematic increase in cultivation from 600,000 to over 2 million acres (2010-2020) played a vital role.
The doctor (in the clip above), frustrated by the former Thai military Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha's unresponsiveness, highlighted his plea for an urgent meeting on the air pollution crisis, only to receive a dismissive "I'll give you five minutes." The court judged that the former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Environmental Board (NEB) had neglected their duties in managing air pollution.
2021: PM2.5 caused 29,000 deaths, surpassing accidents, drugs, crimes.
2022: Thailand's chicken and crop exports reached 139,901 million baht, ranking 3rd globally and 1st in Asia.
2016-2020: Air filter imports surged from 100K to 6M.
10 µg/m³ PM2.5 increase caused 1.6% deaths in a week in Chiang Mai.
Imagine the impact of a 500-700 µg/m³ increase...
Air quality reached hazardous zone in Chiang Mai
Air quality reached hazardous zone in Chiang Mai

Do we want to witness more of these situations? This story serves as a cautionary example for leaders at all levels, especially in government and across various sectors. Numerous organizations, like The National Thailand Breathe Council, are actively addressing these issues.
💪What can we, as ordinary citizens, do?
I began by exploring the We Don't Have Time platform, where I found numerous hopeful solutions provided by global experts.
For instance, there's a recorded session from Stockholm Climate Week 2023 titled " Regenerative agriculture for sustainable food & agriculture system ||." The speaker, Starry Sprenkle-Hyppolite, PhD, Senior Director of Restoration Science at Conservation International, discusses transforming our food production and consumption practices, which is crucial for achieving the Paris Agreement goals. This transformation requires adopting entirely new methods and practices that regenerate nature and ensure food security.
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If you're interested in collaborating with Thailand for climate solutions, I am here to be that bridge.

Do you agree?

31 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • walter lungayi

    28 w

    Air pollution is a serious issue that needs to be addressed urgently. It's unfortunate to hear about the situation in the Northern part of Thailand. The government should take immediate action to reduce pollution levels and protect the health of its citizens.

    • We Don't Have Time

      42 w

      Dear SustainablePear Your climate warning has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Thailand-The government of Thailand by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

      • johnte ndeto

        42 w

        Universal laws pertaining climate should be put in place to help in climate protection

        • Kevin

          42 w

          Air pollution brings adverse risk to human and indeed all life existing forms

          • winnie nguru

            42 w

            What is the government and bodies concerned doing about this? This should stop or else so many lives will be lost

            • Grace Njeri

              42 w

              Air pollution has become the world's single biggest environmental health risk,positive action is the only remedy.

              • CHRIS NGATIA

                42 w

                Air pollution is among the worst environmental risk to human beings... The government of Thailand should take immediate action

                • Rashid Kamau

                  42 w

                  Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risk to health.

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