Celebrities, environmentalists, and political leaders attacked Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, for allegedly destroying the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, which they say is the “lungs of the world.”
Those were all mistruths, and it’s another partisan attack on a leader who isn’t left-wing.
The photos you saw weren’t of today’s fires in Brazil, the Amazon isn’t the “lungs of the world,” deforestation is 75% below 2004 peak, and forest fires are not increasing.
Michael Shellenberger, writing for Forbes, reviewed the viral lies that got people worked up on social media:
Singers and actors including Madonna and Jaden Smith shared photos on social media that were seen by tens of millions of people. “The lungs of the Earth are in flames,” said actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen,” tweeted soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. “The Amazon rain forest — the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire,” tweeted French President Emanuel Macron.
And yet the photos weren’t actually of the fires and many weren’t even of the Amazon. The photo Ronaldo shared was taken in southern Brazil, far from the Amazon, in 2013. The photo that DiCaprio and Macron shared is over 20 years old. The photo Madonna and Smith shared is over 30. Some celebrities shared photos from Montana, India, and Sweden.
Even CNN and New York Times debunked the photos and other misinformation about the fires. “Deforestation is neither new nor limited to one nation,” explained CNN. “These fires were not caused by climate change,” noted The Times.
Still, the publications claimed that the Amazon is the “lungs of the world.”
One of the world’s leading Amazon forest experts, Dan Nepstad, said about the “lungs” claim:
“It’s bullshit,” he said. “There’s no science behind that. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it’s a wash.”
There’s more, the mistakes go on and on, but basically, everything they said was not true and they made complete fools of themselves.