Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

DiCaprio Responds After Brazil's Bolsonaro Claims He Is Contributing to Amazon Fires

Popular
(L) Leonardo DiCaprio. JB Lacroix / Getty Images (R) Jair Bolsonaro. Jeso Carneiro / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has found a new person to blame for the record number of wildfires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest this year: actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.


"Leonardo DiCaprio is a great guy, isn't he?" Bolsonaro said Friday, as CNN reported. "Donating money to set the Amazon on fire."

This is not the first time that Bolsonaro has blamed environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for intentionally starting fires in order to raise money. While indigenous and environmental groups have blamed Bolsonaro's pro-development rhetoric and policies for the uptick in illegal burns in the Amazon, the president has pushed back by shifting blame. This August, as the news of the fires sparked international outrage, he claimed that "everything indicates" the fires were started by NGOs, though he did not provide any proof.

His accusations against DiCaprio come as four volunteer firefighters have been arrested for allegedly starting fires in Brazil's northern Pará state in order to attract NGO donations, BBC News reported. Specifically, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been accused of paying the firefighters for photographs of burned forest. WWF denies these claims, and human rights and environmental organizations said the arrests were politically motivated and an attempt to harass environmental groups.

Bolsonaro first connected DiCaprio with the fires in a webcast Thursday discussing the accusations against WWF.

"So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video. [WWF] makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000," Bolsonaro said, according to BBC News. "A part of that went to the people that were setting fires. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon, that won't do."

DiCaprio responded with a statement posted on Instagram Saturday.

"At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage," DiCaprio wrote. "They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment."

DiCaprio has a history of promoting environmental causes. He promised in December 2018 to match every donation made to the group Amazon Frontlines for all of 2019, The New York Times reported. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation works to protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems.

However, he said in his statement that he had not supported the groups currently being accused, though he said they were "worthy of support."

"I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians," DiCaprio said.

WWF also said in a statement that it had not received any money from DiCaprio, The New York Times reported.

Global Wildlife Conservation and IUCN Species Survival Commission, two of the largest environmental organizations currently working in the Amazon, also spoke out generally against the accusations, CNN reported.

"As an umbrella organization committed to biodiversity conservation, we are concerned that there are increasing and targeted attacks on people and groups working to protect nature in the Amazon," IUCN said. "Environmental defenders, whether in local communities, NGOs, or government agencies, should be afforded with the highest protection of the law in Brazil."

As a carbon sink, the Amazon rainforest is considered an essential part of the fight against the climate crisis, The New York Times pointed out. However, experts are concerned that if it continues to burn, it could reach a tipping point and transform from rainforest into grassland.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less
A woman scoops water in a dry riverbed near Kataboi village in remote Turkana in northern Kenya. Marisol Grandon / Department for International Development

By Raya A. Al-Masri

Different strategies for resisting the spread of the new coronavirus have emerged in different countries. But the one that has cut through everywhere is simple and, supposedly, can be done by anyone: "Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds."

Read More Show Less
A USGS map showing the location of a 6.5 magnitude quake that shook Idaho Tuesday evening. USGS

Idaho residents were rattled Tuesday evening by the biggest earthquake to shake the state in almost 40 years.

Read More Show Less