Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, along with other celebrities and athletes, are spreading misinformation about a recent spate of Amazon fires in Brazil to generate attention.
Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo shared an image Aug. 22 on Facebook and Twitter, which included the caption: “It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet.” The photo, which showed a dramatic view of smoke and ash, was taken nearly six years ago in a section of Brazil not connected to the Amazon, according to a photo by The Baltimore Sun at the time.
The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and its been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet. #prayforamazonia pic.twitter.com/83bNL5a37Q
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) August 22, 2019
Ronaldo’s claim that the Amazon creates 20% of the world’s oxygen has also been debunked by … real scientists:
It’s biologically and physically impossible for the Amazon to produce 20% of the world’s oxygen.
Plus, those rainforests will be replaces with soybean fields and pastures that also do photosynthesis and produce oxygen at similar, or higher, rates.
This is not an issue.
— Dr. Jonathan Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) August 23, 2019
Brazil saw over 72,000 fire outbreaks in 2019, with an 84% increase on the same period a year earlier, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research, the Guardian reported. More than half of the wildfires were in the Amazon.
The fires are canvassing the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, raising concerns that the rainforest is giving way to land-clearing operations and other activities intended to transform the land for agricultural use. Farmers who are preparing the land for next year’s planting are likely responsible for the fires, according to researchers at the University of Maryland.
DiCaprio, who’s made a name for himself as a major environmentalist activist, shared an image on Aug 21 with his 34 million Instagram followers that showed a large patch of forest engulfed in smoke. Singer Ricky Martin and French President Emmanuel Macron shared the same image. None of them identified the source for the photos.
Actor David Licauco shared photos from Montana, India and Sweden on Twitter, according to CNN. “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,” he wrote in a caption that included the photos.
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