According to a new study, cable news is failing to cover the massive and globally-catastrophic fires in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
The study from nonprofit media watchdog Media Matters for America, found that cable news channels – MSNBC, CNN and Fox News – provided nearly 15x more coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire earlier this year than they have of the fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite the Amazon Rainforest fires having a significantly larger impact on public health and the global environment given it is home to hundreds of indigenous tribes, wildlife and mitigates impact of climate change by producing 20% of the world’s oxygen.
In fact, cable news channels provided 93.15% less coverage of the fires in the Amazon than they did of the Notre Dame fire.
It took images of Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo plunging into daytime darkness on April 20 surfacing on social media for the press to pick up on the story; but by then, the fires had been ablaze for over two weeks.
On April 21, Reuters reported that Brazil’s space research center INPE detected detected roughly 73,000 fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, an 84% increase for the same time last year.
NASA began releasing more satellite images of the Amazon fires; clearly visible from space.
?Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS? pic.twitter.com/P1DrCzQO6x— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) August 20, 2019
Credit: Shannon Sims.
As the issue began to pick up pace, with the hashtags #AmazonRainforest and #PrayforAmazon trending on Twitter, concerned citizens also began targeting media companies, including Eco Warrior Princess (EWP).
On April 21, EWP received direct messages on Instagram from concerned individuals. One user from Brazil, @kccintra left this comment on the feed: “the Amazon is on FIRE! Please raise awareness as the government and media does NOTHING! We need HELP!
“…post about it on Instagram as well and talk about @sosfundamazonia that is being dismantled by the government and help us pressure our environmental minister that is doing NOTHING! His name is @ricardosallesmma“.
As the world began to mobilise on the issue and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro launched accusations against NGOs for starting the fires (later retracting his statement after an international outcry), environmentalists, celebrities and high-profile people took to social media to raise awareness and demand more accountability from the right-wing Brazilian President.
American actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio regramming a post from environmental organisation Rainforest Alliance, shared this on Instagram: “The lungs of the Earth are in flames. The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.?”
He went on to urge his followers to take action such as being conscious consumers and reducing meat intake.
View this post on Instagram
#Regram #RG @rainforestalliance: The lungs of the Earth are in flames. ? The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.? ? The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. ? ? The Amazon needs more than our prayers. So what can YOU do?? ? ? As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest. ? ? Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon; this approach is by far the most effective defense against deforestation and natural forest fires, but it requires deep, long-term collaboration between the communities and the public and private sectors. ? Stay on top of this story and keep sharing posts, tagging news agencies and influencers. ? ? Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains.? Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation. ? When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.? ? #RainforestAlliance #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForAmazonia #AmazonRainforest #ActOnClimate #ForestsResist #ClimateCrisis ?: @mohsinkazmitakespictures / Windy.com
American actress Zoe Kravitz posting an out of date image of a forest fire on Instagram, commented: “this is truly crazy, the lack of coverage, care and respect for our mother.”
About the lack of media coverage on the alarming Amazon Rainforest fires, Lis Powers, director of media intelligence at Media Matters said:
“Despite the serious implications, the Amazon fires haven’t gotten even close to the amount of coverage Notre Dame’s fire received. So far, coverage has peaked at 11 segments that mention the fires per day on cable news networks combined — as opposed to around 150 segments a day that mentioned the cathedral fire during the peak of Notre Dame coverage — according to Media Matters’ internal database.
“Additionally, the coverage has often come via short headline reads or passing mentions rather than thorough, in-depth analysis about the events and global consequences. The disparity in coverage is glaring and raises serious questions about cable news priorities when it comes to covering our environment.”
To learn more about the study, visit media matters.org.
To learn what you can do to help fight the Amazon Rainforest fires from where you are, read this post for a comprehensive list of actions you can take.
- What the Brazilian Election of President Jair Bolsonaro Means for the Global Environment and Human Rights
- Voting Green: How to Encourage People to Vote for Politicians That Support Climate Action
- UN Climate Change Report: Land Clearing and Farming Contribute a Third of the World’s Greenhouse Gases
- 5 Inspiring American Female Political Leaders Challenging the Status Quo
- How to Challenge Neoliberalism’s Mantra of Consumerism and Infinite Growth to Save the Planet
Feature image of Amazon forest fires via NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS.