As you all know I have spent a good part of my life here in Thailand over the past 27 years and despite it's faults this country remains one of my favorite places on earth! But that being said this “unnecessary burning” every year that takes place here in SE Asia effects all of us! No matter which side of the debate you are on in regards to global warming and "carbon trading schemes" for CO2 emissions, this is “everyone’s fight!” and part of the endless debate back in Kyoto and now recently in Durban! This is a real and avoidable environmental disaster! Something that is truly preventable through "education" and “good governance”.
Every year millions of acres on of SE Asia burn for no "good" reason. In fact here in Thailand many people are in denial, blaming this on neighboring Laos, Burma and Cambodia, when actually it is caused by three very local and obvious reasons.
1.) Uninformed farmers burning their fields, with the thought that this small amount of carbon is the best for soil amendment. Which is absolutely wrong! When actually “tilling under” of the soil is far better and should be common knowledge. Now that 99% of all farming is “mechanized” some how, the labor issue is not valid.
2.) Local and sometime not so local “land grabs” by burning of unclaimed land and even parts of the National Parks for “illegal” agriculture and even hunting.
3.) The most ridiculous! Is the burning and clearing by the actual Thailand National and Provincial Highway Departments, of the road side vegetation. This very often results in large swaths of national and private property adjacent to the highways burning out of control every year.
So all of you please take a look at the attached website and petition and please lobby our newly elected Thai Prime Minister.
Beside these health and environmental concerns, the image of Thailand, not to mention the outright loss to the national GDP from canceled tourism, is at stake here!
There needs to be a comprehensive plan, not just the usual vote seeking sound bites and billboards, with various candidates only "using" NOT "addressing" this issue.
MOST IMPORTANT: We need a nation wide and an international program starting at the “grade school” level to teach this! Thai, Lao, Burmese, Cambodian etc…. We need something like the old US “Smokey the Bear” slogan “Only you can prevent forest fires”, which was so effective at all age levels, when I was a kid!
So let’s see Al Gore, Green Peace or whoever... tackle this very real and evident problem on a logical and “grass roots” level. Teaching adults with bad habits, is an uphill battle!
So all of you please take a look at the website (below) and I hope you decide to sign this. Let’s put some positive pressure on this newly elected Prime Minister and maybe, just maybe on this issue, she can lead Thailand and other countries in some meaningful long term change!
Thank you, Rico