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Amazon fires: Madonna and Leonardo DiCaprio among celebrities to speak out

Huge fires have been blazing through the Brazilian rainforest this week, with more than half in the Amazon region. The fires spell disaster for the local enviro...
Rainforest Fires

Huge fires have been blazing through the Brazilian rainforest this week, with more than half in the Amazon region. The fires spell disaster for the local environment and ecology — and environmentalists and researchers say the blazes were likely lit by cattle ranchers and loggers.

A growing number of high-profile celebrities are among those speaking out about the potential global catastrophe.

Many are demanding accountability from Brazil’s pro-business President Jair Bolsonaro, who activists say encouraged ranchers, farmers and loggers to exploit and burn the rainforest. But the President has said he’s not responsible for the fires.

That hasn’t impressed celebrities, who have taken to social media to ask the President to do more.

“President Bolsonaro please change your policies and help not only your country but the entire planet,” said American singer Madonna in an Instagram post.

But celebrities are also calling on their fans to take action on the climate crisis.

In an Instagram post, American actor Leonardo DiCaprio urged his followers to donate to front line Amazon groups — and vote for leaders who understand the climate crisis when it came to election time.

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#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

A post shared by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on

On Twitter, many people have tweeted using the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia — including Jenner-Kardashian family matriarch, Kris Jenner.

“This is devastating!!! To human lives, to plants and animals, and to our planet,” she said, above a video showing the size and importance of the rainforest.

Top Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was the among a number of sporting stars to publicize the crisis.

“The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and its been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet,” he said.

Other celebrities have posted or tweeted about the fires, including US singer and producer Miguel, Queer Eye host Bobby Berk, Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, and Miley Cyrus’ younger sister Noah Cyrus. “Don’t pray for the Amazon,” said Miguel. “Pray for yourself.”

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The lungs of our planet are currently on fire. The Amazon Rain forest produces 20% of our entire planets oxygen and it’s currently burning at a rate of 1.5 soccer fields a minute. Without vegetation to protect the land, scientist predict the rainforest will turn into a desert the likes of the Sahara. Think there is nothing you can do to help? Think again! Help buy land in the rain forest so that we can protect it even when the Brazilain government will not. These lands are being set on fire deliberately in order to clear lands for animal agriculture. Reducing your meat consumption is one action you can take on a personal level to lessen the need for more open lands. Visit @rainforesttrust to learn more. You can also reduce your paper/wood consumption or ensure you buy rainforest safe products. 🌳 🍃 Donate money to @amazonwatch for the fight against climate change or adopt a jungle animal through @wwf or @world_wildlife #amazon #amazonfire #amazonfires #rainforest #amazonrainforestfire #climatechange #brazil

A post shared by Bobby Berk (@bobby) on

However, some of the photos being circulated by celebrities and social media users inaccurately depict fires from previous years, or in different parts of the world. One widely-shared photo, which shows a wall of smoke arising from the rainforest, was taken in the Amazon more than 20 years ago.

Brazil’s space research center (INPE) said this week that the number of fires in Brazil are 80% higher than last year. According to Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, the destruction this year is “unprecedented” compared to previous years.