Truth, or Something Like ItOpinion
OPINION — The Chicken Littles are once again running around, squawking, and grabbing all the buckets they can find to catch the falling sky. This happens every so often, anytime some knothead posts something to social media that says this or that is ruining the planet, and we’re all going to die horrible deaths. Sometimes it’s the CO2 levels. Sometimes it’s the ozone layer. Sometimes it’s melting ice, or fossil fuel consumption, or cow flatulence, or plastic waste, or your deodorant, or people who eat meat, or people who don’t eat meat, or whatever. Suffice it to say that you’re constantly doing something wrong, and you’d better stop, or you will be personally responsible for the demise of earth. Bummer.
This time it’s the wildfires in the Amazon forests. CNN’s Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes reported on 23 August, ‘The Amazon is on fire: Wildfires continued to burn at a record rate in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The cause: Environmental organization and researchers say the wildfires were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country’s pro-business president.’
Above: The Amazon is on fire!
Well, that sounds ominous, but it gets worse. The story claimed that Brazil’s space research center (INPE) reported that the number of fires in Brazil is 80% higher than last year, and more than half of those are in the Amazon region. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, is hiring hundreds of temporary firefighters to deal with the fires. So, a hot time in the old town tonight.
The same day CNN’s Eliza Mackintosh wrote a piece entitled ‘The Amazon is burning because the world eats so much meat.’ She claimed the wildfires were set by loggers and ranchers to clear land for cattle, and if we gluttonous carnivores would just quit gobbling beef like Michael Moore after a ten-minute jog, this problem would go away. She went on to call the Amazon rainforest ‘the planet’s lungs,’ saying it produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen. I still haven’t figured out where that statistic came from, but I know Eliza wasn’t the first to repeat it. Regardless, we’re all going to suffocate because of the Amazon wildfires. So don’t take out any three-year magazine subscriptions.
Of course, there are a few problems with these claims. To begin with, no one has yet produced any proof that any of the fires were the result of arson, despite the finger pointing by CNN, which is the world’s most honest news organization. But even if ranchers are starting fires down there, I refuse to accept the blame. I enjoy a steak as much as the next guy, but I’m pretty sure none of the meat I’ve eaten, ever, has come from Brazil. So I don’t think I’m contributing to the delinquency of the Brazilian ranching community every time I order a ribeye, Eliza’s stinkeye notwithstanding.
There’s also some discrepancy concerning the claim that the Amazon rainforest is ‘the planet’s lungs,’ because it produces ‘20% of the oxygen’ in our atmosphere. That number has been peated and repeated lately, in an obvious effort to raise emotions and get people all riled up. The only problem is that it’s a complete lie. According to global environmental scientist Dr. Jonathan Foley and Penn State U. climate scientist Michael Mann, among others, the 20% number is way off. They say the rainforest actually produces about 6% of our oxygen. But even at that, we wouldn’t lose 6% of our oxygen if we completely deforested the Amazon. Foley explains it on his site: globalecoguy.org, if you’re interested.
So what we have heah is a failure to communicate, evidently. It seems the world’s most honest news organization is lying through its data processors. I have to say I’m shocked. But the horror doesn’t exactly end there, because we still have over 150 words left in this column.
That claim about the number of Amazon fires being 80% higher than last year? Ah, beg pardon, no. Not even close. Fires are common in the Amazon between July and November, because that’s the dry season there, and they always hire hundreds of extra firefighters during the fire season. There are two states in Brazil, according to NASA, where the fires are worse than last year, the states of Amazonas and Rondonia. In other areas of the Amazon there are fewer fires than last year. In fact, NASA analysis shows that the current fire activity is at or below average this year. Kinda makes you want to crank up the grill and thaw out a sirloin, huh?
Above: Andrew ‘The Russians Did It’ McCabe, who was fired by the FBI last year for lying under oath.
Now, I’m not particularly picking on CNN (yes, he is) for their dishonest coverage of this Amazon thing, since all the other major name brand news outlets worldwide have reported pretty much the same lies. Besides, what with Don Lemon’s sexual allegations, Chris Cuomo’s meltdown over being called ‘Fredo,’ and April Ryan’s bodyguard problems, CNN could use some good news, no pun intended. Maybe that’s why they hired Andrew ‘The Russians Did It’ McCabe, who was fired by the FBI last year for lying under oath. He should fit right in with the world’s most honest news agency . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would like that ribeye medium, thanks. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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