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23 Aug, 2019 10:31

Macron posts Amazon fire photo that’s not from this year, gets torched by Brazil’s Bolsonaro

Macron posts Amazon fire photo that’s not from this year, gets torched by Brazil’s Bolsonaro

Across social media, people are sharing images of fires raging through the Amazon rainforest accompanied by cries for immediate action from world leaders. Emmanuel Macron answered, but with a misleading, old photo.

An image shared by the French president’s Twitter account purports to show the wildfires currently incinerating vast swaths of the Amazon rainforest, dubbed by many as the’ lungs of the Earth’. Macron called on the G7 leaders to prioritize the Amazon fires at this weekend’s summit. 

However, as it turns out, the image Macron shared during his Twitter call-to-arms was taken in the Amazon by photographer Loren McIntyre, who was working for National Geographic at the time. However, McIntyre died at the age of 86 in May 2003, so the photograph is, at the very least, 16 years old.

Macron was quickly rebuked for his “sensationalist tone” by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who accused the French leader of trying “to take advantage of what is a domestic Brazilian issue and of other Amazonian countries for personal political gain.” 

Also on rt.com Sao Paulo plunged into darkness by epic Amazon wildfire smoke (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Between January and August there have been a recorded 72,843 fires in the Amazon, compared with 39,759 during the same period in 2018, with many blaming Bolsonaro’s policies for exacerbating the problem of deforestation in the region.

However, amid the understandable concern over the fires, many people are inadvertently sharing old images of Amazonian blazes, some dating as far back as 30 years, or sharing images from entirely different sections of Brazil, or even images from India and the US. 

One such image shared across social media is this harrowing photo of carbonised, scorched rainforest taken by Reuters photographer Bruno Kelly on the 4th of August 2017. However, the image is not what it appears on first glance; it’s actually a controlled burn carried out by the Brazilian ministry of the environment and natural resources (IBAMA).


Another image, shared by actor Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, garnered 1.5 million likes on Instagram. The photograph was actually taken in 1989 some nine years before Smith was born. 

He was not alone in sharing the image, taken by Sipa Press and published in 2007, as tennis star Novak Djokovic also shared it with his 8.68 million followers. 

Another popular image doing the rounds online as people decry the inaction to save the rainforest is actually an image shared by Greenpeace in August 2008. 

More emotive images, showcasing the supposed suffering of ‘Amazonian’ wildlife, are also not what they claim to be.

The image of the dying monkeys was actually taken in 2017 in Jabalpur, India. The harrowing image of a carbonized rabbit that’s also being shared far and wide online was actually taken during the Woolsey fire in California in 2018.

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