(TMU) — As the world recoils in shock and horror over the record wave of fires sweeping across the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, social media users have been quick to highlight the discrepancy in coverage received by the historic blaze versus the round-the-clock hysteria surrounding the burning of the historic Notre Dame cathedral in France back in April of this year.
The fires consuming the Amazon—considered the most important ecosystem in the world due to its role in preventing global heating as well as providing rainwater throughout the Americas—has quickly dominated social media feeds around the globe, with #PrayForTheAmazon and #PrayForAmazonia trending across the globe.
Despite the catastrophic nature of the fires scorching the “lungs of the world,” until this week the fires—which appear to have been intentionally set by arsonists serving agribusiness and cattle-ranching oligarchs—have received scant media coverage compared to the 15-hour blaze that tore through the old Parisian cathedral.
Social networks were quick to pick up on the blatant hypocrisy surrounding the discrepancy in coverage between the two blazes.
In one video shared by the Ecoagua organization based in Colima, Mexico, the caption notes:
“When Notre Dame was burned, a global tragedy was declared and in just a few days, 218 million euros were raised to rebuild it. Now the Amazon, the lungs of the world, have been burning for 16 days, which is home to more than than 600 species and nobody does anything, not even media or governments … The world isn’t dying, it is being killed!”
Cuando se quemó Notre Dame se declaró una tragedia mundial y en sólo días se recaudaron 218 millones de euros para reconstruirlo.Lleva 16 días quemándose el Amazonas, el pulmón del mundo, el que alberga más de 600 especies y NADIE HACE NADA, NI LOS MEDIOS NI LOS GOBIERNOS.¡El mundo no se está muriendo, lo estamos matando!
Posted by Eco agua on Tuesday, August 20, 2019
The sentiment has been widespread, with people expressing rage and horror over the tens of thousands of fires laying waste to the lush canopy jungle, flora and fauna of the Amazon.
An absurd aspect of the two fires is the fact that while the world was gripped by hand-wringing and grief over the burning of Notre Dame—which can easily be rebuilt and revived—the loss of the Amazon is completely irreplaceable and would spell doom for entire species, not to mention current and future generations of humankind.
In one popular meme shared across Spanish-language social media, photos of the two fires are compared:
“Lung of Faith: $280,000,000 donated in 24 hours.
Lung of the Earth: $0.00 donated in 17 days.”
In a repost of the widely-shared meme below, Facebook user Sarah Casella Miller commented:
“The Amazon has been burning for 16 days, the lung of the world, which is home to to date, at least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals (e.g. jaguar, anteater and giant otter), 1,300 birds (e.g. harpy eagle, toucan and hoatzin), 378 reptiles (e.g. boa), more than 400 amphibians (e.g. dart poison frog) and around 3,000 freshwater fishes including the piranha have been found in the Amazon. Out of the plants, there are 16000 species of trees.”
The Amazon Rainforest is on Fire and Hardly Anyone’s Talking About It:…
Other social media users shared simple yet powerful cartoons that graphically depict the hypocrisy surrounding attitudes toward the two fires:
— desimoni (@desimoninah) August 21, 2019
The importance of the inferno consuming the Amazon can hardly be overstated. As journalist Alexander Zaitchik wrote in his investigative report on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s war on the Amazon published by the Intercept, the loss of the vital rainforest could prove lethal for the entire planet.
“Scientists warn that losing another fifth of Brazil’s rainforest will trigger the feedback loop known as dieback, in which the forest begins to dry out and burn in a cascading system collapse, beyond the reach of any subsequent human intervention or regret. This would release a doomsday bomb of stored carbon, disappear the cloud vapor that consumes the sun’s radiation before it can be absorbed as heat, and shrivel the rivers in the basin and in the sky.”
On Instagram, social media influencer Vienna Rye (@vrye) analyzed the absurdity behind the double-standard in a widely-shared meme that read:
“The Amazon has been burning for 3 weeks. But it is not Notre Dame. It is not a colonial building accidentally on fire for the West to sit behind keyboards and perform sympathy as if the devil doesn’t have a name, address and public office. This destruction is intentional.
Under fascist President Bolsonaro, there has been an 83% rise in wildfires since 2018, which he referred to as the ‘Queimada’ which is when farmers use fire to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.
The lungs of the world are burning so mega corporations and fascists can get even richer. This is institutionalized indigenous genocide.”
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"I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada” -bolsonaro, brazil’s president who is fascist, racist, homophobic, pro-israel, pro-trump. since his election, deforestation in the amazon has accelerated, and he has attacked brazil’s environmental agencies and declared plans to open up protected indigenous reserves to mining. this is an ongoing and institutionalized genocide of indigenous people, from the amazon to puerto rico to palestine to standing rock to kashmir, and beyond… . Dinamã Tuxá, Coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB) said: "Our fear is that this situation will worsen. He foments hatred and violence against indigenous peoples with a discourse claiming that we are an obstacle for development, ignoring our contributions to environmental balance. We know our titled territories help to climate stability and that our preservation of these ecosystems offers collective benefits. His discourse gives those who live around indigenous lands the right to practice violence without any sort of accountability. Those who invade indigenous lands and kill our people will be esteemed. He represents an institutionalization of genocide in Brazil. . . We will fight as we have for the last 518 years, waging resistance to guarantee our existence."
As anger continues to spread across the globe, users are quickly realizing that it’s not enough to simply “Pray for the Amazon.”
The tragic burning of the rainforests in Brazil will hopefully awaken the current generation to organize efforts to defend Mother Nature and hold world leaders and media organizations accountable for their criminal negligence toward our shared ecosystem.
As people across the globe are increasingly realizing: “The world isn’t dying, it’s being killed!”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years
Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.
The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.
Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.
It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.
“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”
Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.
Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.
“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.
“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”
Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.
“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.
Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.
“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”
In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.
Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.
A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.