As we have been reporting this week, the Amazon rainforest is burning at an alarming rate. Images of the burning forest have shocked the world and sparked global outrage, but unfortunately, many of the photos that have gone viral are actually fake, or at the very least not properly attributed. It is very true that there are unprecedented fires in the Amazon, but there are very few verified photos of what is taking place on the ground.
One of the most popular photos shared on social media was an image of a fire that occurred in the Amazon more than 20 years ago. The photo was shared by celebrities like Jaden Smith and Logan Paul and quickly became the face of the recent disaster.
amazon rainforest: how can i help? need advice on how i can actually make a change here; these pictures are breaking my heart… this is one of the most important ecosystems on earth. is there a fundraiser, a call to action, anything i can leverage my audience for on this? pic.twitter.com/s3RcbZbMr0
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) August 21, 2019
Another photo, shared by Leonardo DiCaprio on Instagram showed another massive fire in the Amazon, but CNN discovered that this photo was initially published in 2018. The same photo was posted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called the situation an “international crisis.”
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#Regram #RG @IamNickRose: Terrifying to think that the Amazon is the largest rain forest on the planet, creating 20% of the earth’s oxygen, basically the lungs of the world, has been on fire and burning for the last 16 days running, with literally NO media coverage whatsoever! Why?
Actor David Licauco shared four photos in a Tweet with the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia, but none of the images actually showed the current devastation of the forest.
Only found out on twitter that Amazon rainforest, ‘the earth’s lungs’ has been burning for 3 weeks?! Why is there no media coverage about it? HEARTBREAKING. #PrayforAmazonia 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/JYwWnAPmom
— David Licauco (@davidlicauco) August 21, 2019
The two photos on the left were taken during previous Amazon fires, while the two on the right were taken years ago in Sweden and Montana.
Blogger Nathalie Muñoz posted many of the same viral photos as everyone else, but also included shots of animals in horrific situations. These photos were also old and taken in an entirely different location.
— Nathalie Muñoz (@NathalieMunozx3) August 21, 2019
We can be sure that animals in the Amazon are currently facing a similar fate, and it is important to raise awareness, but these types of mistakes could cause some people to lose trust in activists, environmentalists, and independent media sources.
NASA scientists have released satellite imagery showing the extent of the damage. In the images, smoke can be seen covering a large portion of Brazil.
— NOAA Satellites PA (@NOAASatellitePA) August 22, 2019
In the past week, since August 15, over 9,500 new forest fires were reported in Brazil, most of them spread across the Amazon basin.
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, over 74,000 forest fires were started in Brazil this year, which is more than double the 40,000 fires that were recorded in 2018. This represents an 83 percent increase in wildfires when compared to the same time last year, making it the most fires recorded in a single year since the Brazilian government started tracking such matters.
The video below shows a recent report from Reuters which features new footage of the Amazon fires.
Written by: John Vibes
John Vibes is an author and journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture, and focuses solutions-oriented approaches to social problems. He is also a host of The Free Your Mind Conference and The Free Thought Project Podcast. Read More stories by John Vibes