Updated: Mar 23
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but those who watch them without doing anything” - Albert Einstein"
News from the water body in West Java
There is only 2.5% of freshwater from 70% of the total water on Earth, and just 1% is easily accessible. This freshwater is the key to life. For humans, it is essential for drinking, washing, bathing, cooking, and many more (National Geographic, n.d.). People can live without eating for a month but cannot live without water for a week (US EPA, 2016). However, people seem to act like there is an unlimited supply of freshwater.
Citarum River is the longest and largest river in West Java. It flows from the South of Bandung City to the north of the Java Sea (Damardono, n.d.). Unfortunately, It is also known as the most polluted river in the world. There are a lot of residents housing and factories on the riverside without a proper waste management system (Ganesha, 2018). The government bears a huge responsibility for the mismanagement and lack of law enforcement around the Citarum River.
Ten million people depend on the Citarum River (Damardono, n.d.). The impact of Citarum River pollution also causes other issues. Instead of generating piped water from the Citarum River, people extract groundwater to fulfill their freshwater needs, which will further cause land subsidence (Lin & Hidayat, 2018). The good news is that the government started to act to clean up the Citarum River coordinating with military forces, residents, and private sectors. Projects on educating people nearby the area on waste management have also been ongoing. Law enforcement is expected because it is stronger in solving the issue by prosecuting the violators (Damardono, n.d.).
The hidden danger of fossil fuel
The process of carbon extraction from underground and releasing it into the atmosphere is how fossil fuels are used. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) naturally exist in the atmosphere. However, industrialization has increased the number of GHGs significantly causing global warming and eventually climate change. Fossil fuel pollutes land from mining operations, water from wastewater spills, and air from burning (Denchak, 2018).
Indonesia's policy recently has favored fossil fuel instead of renewable and clean energy despite the concern about climate change. The government removed coal waste from the list of hazardous waste categories with the potency to disrupt the environment (Hidayat, 2021). Many environmental activists enraged as the fly ash and bottom ash from coal-burning can cause respiratory diseases (Sari, 2021). Indonesia is even planning to add new coal-fired power generation. It deviates from Indonesia’s pledge in the IPCC agreement to limit warming by 1.5℃ increase above pre-industrial levels (Climate Action Tracker, 2020).
Also, there is an incident with the state oil refinery in Balongan, West Java. On March 29, 2021, the Balongan oil refinery exploded during a lightning storm and caused a causality. At least five people were seriously injured and thousands of people nearby evacuated. Greenpeace stress on the dangerous incident that happened in the fossil fuel industries and call for an investigation. The cause of the incident is still unknown (The Guardian, 2021).
Landslides and flash floods in the Eastern side of Indonesia
On April 3, 2021, flash floods and landslides happened in East Flores, NTT. Many road access and bridges disrupted, thus complicating the evacuation process (iNews.id, 2021). The death toll from the disaster is 62 people, many injured, some people still missing, and many lose their house. The national board of disaster management (BNPB) of Flores declared an emergency state across the province (CNN Indonesia, 2021).
The disaster was not purely a natural disaster. The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) in NTT states that the disaster resulted from environmental destruction. There is a recent land function change for mining sites and deforestation for agriculture (CNN Indonesia, 2021). The BPBD of East Flores already encouraged citizens to anticipate landslides and floods from last year because there is a forest fire that left the land slope bare (Kaha, 2020).
To Sum Up
There are a lot of disasters and pollution happening in our environment. Some are natural and many caused by human activities. Therefore, people need to ensure their activities have less bad impact on the environment. There is a law that regulates human action to the environment but in reality, it lacks enforcement. Governments and various non-government organizations need to be united to lessen the impact of a manmade disaster on the environment mostly through education. Let’s take our part in protecting the environment.
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Climate Action Tracker. (2020, September 22). Indonesia. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://climateactiontracker.org/countries/indonesia/
CNN Indonesia. (2021, April 5). Banjir Flores Timur, Wakil Bupati Sebut 62 Orang Meninggal. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from
CNN Indonesia. (2021, April 5). Walhi: Kerusakan Lingkungan Picu Banjir Bandang di NTT. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20210405124246-20-626052/walhi-kerusakan-lingkungan-picu-banjir-bandang-di-ntt
Damardono, H. (n.d.). Seven Years to Clean Citarum River. Kompas. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://interaktif.kompas.id/baca/citarum-evolution/
Denchak, M. (2018, June 29). Fossil Fuel: The Dirty Fact. NRDC. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/fossil-fuels-dirty-facts
Ganesha, A. (2018, January 12). Gov't Plans Huge Project to Clean Up 'World's Dirtiest River'. Jakarta Globe. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://jakartaglobe.id/business/govt-plans-huge-project-to-clean-up-worlds-dirtiest-river/
Hidayat, R. (2021, March 15). Penghapusan Abu Batubara dari Kategori Limbah B3 Dinilai Langgar Konstitusi. Hukumonline.com. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://www.hukumonline.com/berita/baca/lt604f3041eb5e7/penghapusan-abu-batubara-dari-kategori-limbah-b3-dinilai-langgar-konstitusi/
iNews.id. (2021, April 4). Pencarian Korban Banjir di Adonara Flores Timur Terkendala Alat Berat. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://regional.inews.id/berita/pencarian-korban-banjir-di-adonara-flores-timur-terkendala-alat-berat
Kaha, K. (2020, October 22). BPBD Flores Timur mengimbau warga antisipasi longsor dan banjir. AntaraNTT. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://kupang.antaranews.com/berita/40017/bpbd-flores-timur-mengimbau-warga-antisipasi-longsor-dan-banjir
Lin, M. M. & Hidayar, R. (2018, August 13). Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world. BBC. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44636934
National Geographics. (n.d.). Freshwater Crisis. Accessed on 4/4/2021 from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/freshwater-crisis
Sari, H. P. (2021, March 13). Limbah Batu Bara Dikeluarkan dari Kategori Berbahaya dan Potensi Rusak Lingkungan. Kompas.com. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2021/03/13/09053331/limbah-batu-bara-dikeluarkan-dari-kategori-berbahaya-dan-potensi-rusak?page=all
The Guardian. (2021, March 29). Massive fire engulfs Indonesian oil refinery after explosion. Accessed on 5/4/2021 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/29/massive-fire-engulfs-indonesian-oil-refinery-after-explosion
United State Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). (2016, February 24). Water Facts of LIfe. Accessed on 4/4/2021 from https://www3.epa.gov/safewater/kids/waterfactsoflife.html