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“This is Not Mars”: Indonesian Skies Turn an Unearthly Red as Haze From Fires Blocks Sunlight

The latest imagery coming from Indonesia isn’t just frightening—it’s downright otherworldly.

Elias Marat

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Indonesian Skies
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(TMU) — As the world continues to burn, from the Amazon rainforest to the frozen Arctic, we’ve become subject to a steady stream of apocalyptic imagery that is very far from normal. But in all likelihood, this apocalyptic imagery be the “new normal” as increasing global temperatures and worsening climate conditions whip up ever more dangerous weather events.

And the latest horrific imagery coming from a province in Indonesia located near the country’s massive forest fires isn’t just frightening—it’s downright otherworldly.

In social media posts shared over the weekend, video and images depict the blood red skies of Jambi, a province in Central Sumatra, where a concentration of toxic haze has given the skies unearthly and Mars-like crimson tones.

The tweets have been accompanied by the hashtag #prayforjambi, along with appeals for the government to implement much stronger measures to finally put out the fires.

In one post, a user comments:

“This afternoon is not night. This is earth not mars planet. This is not in outer space. It’s us who breathe with lungs, not with gills. We humans need clean air, not smoke.”

https://twitter.com/kasehsaulmouk/status/1175631829417615360

In a separate post, user Duke of Condet notes:

“All we know about Planet Mars is the reddish planet, also it atmosphere. Well.. I don’t want you have some misunderstanding, so I’ll tell you before; THIS IS NOT MARS! This is Jambi @ Indonesia. The air somehow changed cuz of forest fire.”

As Coconuts Jakarta reports, the disturbing reason why the Jambi region is enveloped in red is due to the extreme concentration of smoke, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BKMG).

BKMG spokesperson Siswanto explained:

“Other areas on the satellite look brown but in Muaro Jambi they look white, which indicates that the smoke layer is extremely thick. This is likely because of land / forest fires occurring in the area, especially on peatlands.” 

Continuing, the official noted that the skies weren’t red simply because of high temperatures but because of a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering, which has to do with the types of particles present in the air during periods of haze.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2s_MmoHUuP/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfix

Professor Koh Tieh Yong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences told the BBC:

“In the smoke haze, the most abundant particles are around 1 micrometer in size, but these particles do not change the colour of the light we see.

There are also smaller particles, around 0.05 micrometers or less, that don’t make up a lot of the haze but are still somewhat more abundant during a haze period [than a normal non-haze period]… but this is enough to give an extra tendency to scatter red light more in the forward and backward directions than blue light—and that is why would you see more red than blue.”

As is the case in South America, the fires are largely the result of illegal land clearance fires run amok. The slash-and-burn technique is practiced annually by big agribusiness and small-scale farmers eager to clear vegetation for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations.

But this year, the level of pollution and scale of the fires has reached such a deadly level that it has been filtering out some of the sun’s wavelengths, giving it the menacing color seen in the videos.

Not only the people of Indonesia but those in neighboring countries Malaysia, Singapore and Thailandas well as their wildlifehave been forced to bear the brunt of the toxic air.

Many have blamed corruption and a failure of governance for allowing slash-and-burn techniques to open the door to the catastrophe engulfing Indonesia.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Environment

Japan Says Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean is Now “Unavoidable”

Elias Marat

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While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.

In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate.

And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water.

Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life.

Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.

Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt.

“What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday.

Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.

But while Japanese officials say that the water will be safe, it remains an open question whether people will trust their word.

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Environment

Crowds Flock to Lava-Spewing Volcanoes in Italy, Iceland and Guatemala to Get Closer View

Elias Marat

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The year 2021 has so far been a particularly active time for volcanic eruptions. In February and March, three spectacular volcanic eruptions have occurred: the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, Mount Etna in Italy and Pacaya in Guatemala.

In each case, the eruptions have drawn large crowds of curious onlookers and sightseers.

In vivid video captured at Fagradalsfjall volcano on April 1, lava can be seen being spewed as amazed onlookers can be heard in the background. According to local reports, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to the area to view the eruption.

Iceland’s authorities are not anticipating evacuations due to the mile-and-a-half distance from the nearest road.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” said Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”

Italy and Guatemala have also experienced a few volcanic eruptions this year.

On March 7, Sicilian villages were showered with ash and lava stone following the eruption of Mount Etna, which began its highly active phase in February.

The Pacaya volcano lying 30 miles south of the Guatemalan capital has also been extremely active since February.

Pacaya’s peak typically attracts tourists, but hikes are temporarily on hold due to the uptick in activity. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, whose lava flows in a 2018 eruption killed at least 110 people and left rougly 200 missing.

While volcano tourism provides a steady source of income for villages like nearby San Francisco de Sales, locals must balance this with the need to ensure their long-term safety.

So far, however, Pacaya has not yet injured locals.

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