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Srettha Thavisin and Patcharawat Wongsuwan Combat Dangerous Haze in Thailand: A Battle for Clearer Skies

As the sun climbed its morning arc in Nakhon Ratchasima province, an ethereal veil of smoke unfurled across the landscape, a tapestry of ash rising from a paddy field caught in the embrace of flame. The photograph capturing this moment tells a tale far beyond the immediate drama of fire and smoke – it speaks of an environmental quandary gripping Thailand with a tenacity as relentless as the haze itself.

On a particular Thursday morning, while the air should have been brimming with the fresh promise of a new day, 48 of Thailand’s 77 provinces found themselves enshrouded in a cloud not of mystery, but of ultrafine dust particles, creating a tapestry of air pollution that stretched particularly over the Northeast, casting a shadow over the landscape. The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) painted a grim picture at 10 am, revealing a skyline smeared with levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) that whimsically danced between 75.8 to 97.7 microgrammes per cubic meter of air – numbers that far exceed the gentle recommendation of 25 µg/m³ proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and even the government’s more lenient safe threshold of 37.5 µg/m³.

In an intricate dance of ascending concern, provinces like Roi Et, Kalasin, and Maha Sarakham (among 13 in total) wore their PM2.5 levels like a shroud, tinted red to denote their serious harm to health. The narrative extended to 35 other provinces, now colored in the urgent hues of orange, signaling safety levels teetering on the edge. This rouge carousel of air quality spun from Nong Khai to Saraburi, enveloping landmarks and lives in a haze that whispered tales of caution with every breath taken.

Yet, as despairing as the skies were, pockets of fresh air and hope prevailed in the lower Central Plains and the South, with Samut Prakan and Bangkok boasting air quality readings that were akin to a breath of fresh air – a reminder that purity still had a place amidst the miasma.

The origins of this smoky siege were traced back to 1,320 hotspots scattered about the country, their locations ranging from the dense enclaves of forests to the open expanses of farmland. Kanchanaburi, Chaiyaphum, and Nakhon Ratchasima emerged as the unfortunate champions of this incendiary tally, reflecting a national crisis mirrored with varying intensity across the borders in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

In times of crisis, leadership steps into the limelight, and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was no exception. The promise of a conversation with Hun Manet, his Cambodian counterpart, dangled the hope of a bilateral solution to the dusty dilemma, perhaps inspired by the swirling accusations of smoggy contributions wafting in from Cambodia.

The battle against the PM2.5 menace saw champions arise from various corners. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Patcharawat Wongsuwan marshaled the forces of the Pollution Control Department alongside the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, aiming to cleanse the air with the alchemy of rain-making operations. Meanwhile, the narrative of agriculture’s role in this environmental saga was further complicated as Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt highlighted the plight of farmers, whose impoverished circumstances often left them with the unsavory choice of stubble burning.

This tale of environmental challenge is not just a story of numbers and policies but a narrative of a nation and its neighbors grappling with the elusive equilibrium between progress and preservation. It’s a reminder that sometimes, to find the clarity of solution, we must first navigate through the haze of complications. As Thailand battles its airborne adversary, the quest for clearer skies becomes a testament to human resilience and the collective yearning for a breath of fresher air.


  1. EcoWarrior February 8, 2024

    It’s disheartening to see beautiful countries like Thailand struggle with air pollution. The involvement of local leaders in finding solutions gives hope, but it’s a global problem that requires international collaboration.

    • Skeptik February 8, 2024

      International collaboration sounds idealistic. Most countries can barely manage their own issues, let alone work together on something as complex as environmental problems.

      • GreenHeart February 8, 2024

        While skepticism is understandable, history has shown us that global issues necessitate global actions. The Montreal Protocol is a prime example where international collaboration helped address the ozone layer depletion.

      • EcoWarrior February 8, 2024

        Exactly, GreenHeart! It’s about finding common ground and leveraging shared interests. Environmental issues affect us all, regardless of borders.

    • Realist123 February 8, 2024

      Let’s not forget that farmers are often caught in the crossfire of these environmental debates. It’s easy to discuss bans on stubble burning, but what alternatives are being offered to them?

  2. PolicyWonk February 8, 2024

    The measures taken by the Thai government and other stakeholders are commendable. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives remains to be seen. Policies should focus on sustainability and not just immediate relief.

    • OptimistPrime February 8, 2024

      Agreed, but every step towards sustainability counts. Rainmaking and dialogues with neighboring countries are steps in the right direction. It’s important to recognize and build upon these small victories.

  3. DoubtingTom February 8, 2024

    Isn’t it ironic that we’re trying to fight pollution with more technological intervention like rainmaking? Doesn’t that have its own environmental impacts? Sometimes it feels like we’re going in circles.

    • TechAdvocate February 8, 2024

      Technological advancements, if applied thoughtfully, can be part of the solution rather than the problem. The key is in developing and using technology in a way that’s sustainable and environmentally friendly.

  4. BangkokLocal February 8, 2024

    Living in Bangkok, I’ve seen some improvement in air quality, but the haze seasons remain dreadful. It’s more than just inconvenience; it’s about our health and the environment.

    • HealthNut February 8, 2024

      Absolutely, the health implications of PM2.5 are serious. Respiratory issues, cardiovascular diseases… the list goes on. Public health needs to be a major consideration in how we address air pollution.

    • CitySlicker February 8, 2024

      Improvements are there, but consistency is key. One day the sky is clear, the next, we’re back to wearing masks. It seems like a never-ending cycle.

  5. AgriAnna February 8, 2024

    As someone coming from a farming background, I understand why farmers resort to stubble burning. It’s not out of ignorance but necessity. There needs to be support for alternatives that are both efficient and affordable.

    • GreenTechie February 8, 2024

      There are innovations out there that aim to provide such alternatives, like stubble collection machinery and biochar production. The challenge is making these technologies accessible and affordable to small-scale farmers.

  6. Sarah22 February 8, 2024

    I visited Thailand last year, and the haze was unbearable. It’s sad to see such a beautiful country face these issues. I hope the efforts being made are successful. Tourism might suffer otherwise.

    • Wanderlust February 8, 2024

      The impact on tourism is a significant consideration. Clear skies and clean air are not just environmental or health issues but also economic ones. Effective solutions could indeed enhance Thailand’s appeal as a travel destination.

  7. LocalGovtFan February 8, 2024

    The role of local governments and community leaders is crucial in the battle against pollution. Community-led initiatives can complement national efforts and bring about substantial change.

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