From September to November of 1997, raging fires in Indonesia pumped enough smoke into the air to blanket the entire region in haze, reaching as far north as southern Thailand and the Philippines, with Malaysia and Singapore being particularly affected. An area the size of Costa Rica was completely devastated. The lives and health of 70 million people were jeopardized and species already endangered, such as orangutans, rhinos, and tigers, were pushed closer to extinction. The fires — deliberately set for the most part — were certainly one of the century’s worst environmental disasters. This book conservatively assesses the damage at US $4.5 billion, more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill and India’s Bhopal chemical spill combined. It looks at the causes of the fires, the physical damages that resulted, and their effects on health, industrial production, and tourism, among others. It explains the methods used to assign a monetary value to the damages and recommends measures that must be taken to prevent a recurrence of this horrific event.

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Indonesia’s Fires and Haze The Cost of Catastrophe