I arrived in Singapore two weeks ago, landing in a cloud of haze. For the last two months, my business school classmates in Southeast Asia’s leading financial center have not seen the blue sky and have been warned not to spend time outside, as the haze can get so heavy that breathing becomes dangerous. When they do go outside, they wear masks.
The same haze hangs over Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and an ever-growing swath of the region — and it has been happening annually. This year, it has reached record levels of pollution because of El Niño and the resulting delay in the rainy season.