Celebrities, Politicians Share Misinformation As They Spread Fear Over Amazon Fires

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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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.

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.

The image appears in a stock photo catalog produced by photographer Loren McIntyre, a photojournalist who died in 2003. (RELATED: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Suggests His Enemies Are Starting Amazonian Fires Out Of Revenge)

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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