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The Amazon fires show our misplaced priorities

Imlisanen Jamir


If you really want to see how humans value nature in this age, just Google "Amazon Fire" and you'll see the Amazon Fire Tablet more than the Amazon rainforest fire. 

This sums up the shameful job that the global media has done in its lack of attention towards the tragic fires engulfing the Amazon rainforest at the moment, but Google’s algorithms are equally guilty. The algorithms in turn depend a lot on people’s choices and interests on the internet—our priorities. 

Ecommerce giant Amazon is at the top of many of the search results for the tragedy, particular it’s unfortunately named Amazon Fire tablet. The search results come at a critical time for the rainforest. Smoke from the fires, covering huge swaths of the Amazon basin, completely blotted out the midday sun in Sao Paulo this week, darkening the city. 

According to Brazil’s state satellite agency, the number of fires in the Amazon so far this year is up 85% compared to the same period last year. About half of this year’s blazes have occurred in the last 20 days.

Meanwhile, many of the headlines in Google News highlight “midweek deals” on older models of Amazon’s Fire tablet and reviews of the latest version of the device. Searches for both “amazon fire” and “fire in the amazon” turned up news stories about the products rather than the fires; in one search, news stories about the ongoing Amazonian fires didn’t appear until the second page of Google News results. 

This was later changed by August 22, more than twenty days since the raging infernos began. 

And as if this was not enough, when global media outlets did start covering the news, a large part of their coverage was dedicated to how certain images shared on the fires were from other forest fires and tragedies. The fact is its happening and something needs to be done. And instead of focusing on who posted what on twitter, perhaps write about the damage the fires are causing and what, if anything people can do to help? 

Combine this with the blatant lies propagated by people and certain media outlets downplaying the fires as being less than normal or as a usual occurrence. 

Every section of the rainforest lost means losing natural carbon sinks; the greenhouse gas locked up by the forest’s biomass is instead released into the atmosphere, accelerating global climate change. Losing it also means losing the habitats for numerous threatened plant and animal species, many of which can only be found in the biodiverse Amazon. Oh, and it also produces 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen. 

A football size area of the world’s largest rainforest is being destroyed every day. If that’s normal, then normal needs to change.  

There’s a lesson to learn from all this here at home too. 


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