Thai army chiefs burn leaves to demonstrate the causes of air pollution

This is the ridiculous moment army chiefs set alight a huge pile of leaves to show what causes air pollution, adding even more smog to the atmosphere.

Military government leaders gathered with police in a field for the bizarre conference in pollution-choked Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, yesterday (Jan 21) afternoon.

They lined up for photographs before setting fire to the long pile of dried leaves and using a garden blower to recreate the wind - sending even more plumes of black smoke into the atmosphere.

Regional military leader Major Suebsakul Buarawong complimented his team for the demonstration and said he wanted to show locals what was causing the pollution.

He added: "We have to show the farmers here what the consequences are of their crop burning. It will also be useful to train the fire squads how to deal with the fires in case they come across them.''

Local officials were attempting to show the banned 'slash-and-burn' agricultural process, where farmers set fire to sugar cane husks and other waste crops on their land to save time and costs instead of clearing them manually.

The process adds to the toxic levels of PM2.5 particles that hang in the atmosphere along with pollution from cars, factories and power plants.

Smogs is at its worst between January and March when farmers burn crops as it is combined with dry, stagnant weather and a winter low-pressure system in which cold air is trapped closer to the ground by warm air above - preventing the pollution from being dispersed naturally.

The Thai government has been criticised for its handling of the country's air pollution crisis. Measures introduced last year to reduce pollution included spraying water into the air to increase humidity, which helps to absorb particles of pollution.

''Unfortunately, this mitigation does not appear to be effective, since the volume of water is minuscule compared to actual rain,'' wrote data scientist engineer Worasom Kundhikanjana.