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Asia Minute: Southeast Asia Suffering Heat and Drought

Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
Phalinn Ooi / Flickr

Cooling classrooms in public schools is a topic under discussion at Hawai‘i’s legislature this session. It’s also a timely issue across parts of Southeast Asia this week—as temperatures are soaring. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Malaysia’s government shut down more than 250 schools on Monday…because it was just too hot.  Temperatures climbed to nearly 100-degrees farenheit….and authorities cancelled classes for some 100,000 students.

In neighboring Singapore, sweltering temperatures led some local media to try and fry an egg on the sidewalk.  The yolk cooked, the egg white did not.

On a more serious note, the heat wave is causing trouble for farming, fishing and livestock.  It’s the latest set of problems spun into motion by the El Niño weather system—the warming of the ocean surface which leads to rains and flooding in some parts of the world and heat and drought in others.  Malaysia’s commercial fish farming industry has been hit with more than 5-million dollars in losses.  Higher water temperatures have led to an increase of red algae which suck up oxygen and have killed grouper, snapper and barramundi.

The drought has also sparked wildfires in parts of Malaysia.  Vegetable prices have already spiked in some places, and agriculture is suffering in Thailand and the Philippines… while Vietnam is facing its worst drought in a century.  April is usually the rainy season for the region, and forecasters say some precipitation should be heading to the area later this week.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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