(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!”
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