The Amazon Rainforest, the largest of its kind and often dubbed as ‘the lungs of the world’, has been burning for the last two weeks. Several Twitter users have posted pictures online, showing the alarming rate at which the tropical forest is burning.
#PrayforAmazonas was the top trending hashtag in the world on Wednesday, 21 August, with more than 249,000 tweets. While it is true that a massive fire continues to engulf the forest, it turns out that many of the pictures being shared online are old or not from Brazil at all.
Actor and environmentalist Leonardo Dicaprio, and many other celebrities like Alia Bhatt, were among those sharing these images.
Alia, in her tweet wrote, “The 'lungs of our planet' are burning! The #AmazonRainforest is home to about 3 Mn species of plants & animals and 1 Mn indigenous people(sic).”
It is true that several fires are burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest and as per Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, the country has seen a record number of 74,155 wildfires this year, and counting.
But a lot of the pictures that are being circulated online are either old or unrelated. Let’s take a look at a few of these pictures, one at a time.
This image is as old as 2014 and it shows a fire burning next to a grazing land in the Amazon basin. The picture is available on Getty images and was taken by photographer Mario Tama.
This image is as old as 1989. It was taken by a Sipa Press, which was a French photo agency, and was published in an article titled ‘Deforestation in the Amazon’ by The Guardian in 2007.
We found out that this picture was used in an article titled ‘Carbon emissions from Amazon wildfires could ‘counteract’ deforestation decline’ dated 13 February 2018. We found that the picture was also available on Alamy, a website that hosts stock images.
There are many other pictures which are being circulated online that show how animals have been affected due to the fire. While we don’t undermine the seriousness of the situation, a few of these images were also found to be old.
This image was taken by photographer Avinash Lodhi in Jabalpur in April 2016. The picture is available on the photographer’s Facebook page and speaking to a website called ‘CountryLiving.com’, Lodhi said that the little monkey had fainted, possibly due to dehydration, making his mother wail in anguish.
This image is as old as 2000 and was taken by John McColgan during a forest fire in Bitterroot Forest, Montana. According to fact-checking website Snopes, McColgan was a fire behavior analyst from Fairbanks and this picture was taken with a digital camera.
The year 2000 had witnessed one of the worst fire seasons in the US.
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