14:36 GMT +316 December 2019
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    The photo of thick plumes of smoke billowing from fires the Amazon forest, shared by French President Emmanuel Macron, apepars to have been taken by a photographer who died in 2003, which means that the photo is 16 years old at the very least.

    Amazon Fires: Brazil’s Bolsonaro Calls Out Emmanuel Macron for Misleading Public With ‘Fake’ Photo

    © Photo : Twitter/Emmanuel Macron
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    The largest rainforest on the planet is being ravaged by thousands of fires and thousands of people, including politicians and celebrities, have been drawing attention to the problem using the hashtag #PrayForTheAmazon.

    While raising awareness of a climate emergency is definitely a noble cause, some people have apparently resorted to misinformation in doing so, whether deliberately or not.

    Some of the luminaries spreading the word about the burning Amazon rainforest have shared photos that were taken during previous fires, some of them not in Brazil at all.

    For instance, a photo of the burning forest shared by French President Emmanuel Macron and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was actually taken by a National Geographic photographer who died in 2003, reports AFP news agency which spotted it in the Alarmy photo library.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was quick to accuse Macron of “sensationalism” and attempting to score political points with a photo that is at least 16 years old.

    “I regret that President Macron seeks to instrumentalise an internal issue of Brazil and other Amazonian countries for personal political gain,” he tweeted in Portuguese. “The sensational tone with which he refers to the Amazon (appealing even to fake photos) does nothing to solve the problem.”

    Another widely-shared image, posted by tennis star Novak Djokovic, YouTuber Logan Paul and rapper/actor Jaden Smith, shows a wildfire sending a thick wall of smoke billowing over the Amazon.

    In fact, the photo was featured in a photo gallery in The Guardian, devoted to the devastating 2007 Amazon fires. According to the caption on the newspaper’s website, it was taken 30 years ago, in June 1989.

    Some of the most heart-breaking images as of late were those of a charred rabbit and a monkey that appears to cry out after her baby collapses.

    The monkey was actually caught on camera in the Indian city of Jabalpur in 2017. The photographer, Avinash Lodhi, said in an interview with The Telegraph at the time: “This picture is very close to my heart because throughout my entire photography career I have never seen anything like this.”

    However harrowing, it does not appear to be linked with any fire at all.

    The ‘burned rabbit’ picture, also widely retweeted, was identified as coming from last year’s Woolsey Fire in California.

    The Planet's 'Green Lungs' Burning

    Brazil’s space and climate-monitoring agency (Inpe) has recorded nearly 73,000 forest fires throughout the country from January to August, the highest number since records began in 2013. Most were in the Amazon.

    It marked an 84 percent hike from 2018, when just under 40,000 fires were recorded in the same period.

    Environmentalists claim that the fires are human in origin and policies of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which has opened the Amazon region to farming and mining.

    Brazil’s conservative president has drawn international backlash over the Amazon situation, with Germany suspending millions of dollars in funding for local forest conservation projects and Ireland and Finland

    Bolsonaro, a major climate change sceptic, suggested in turn that the fires are being set by environmental activists seeking to embarrass his government.

    Earlier this month, Bolsonaro sacked the head of Inpe, calling the agency’s satellite data on Amazon deforestation “lies”.

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