Yet again, celebrities are stepping in where governments are failing to act
The Amazon is burning at an unprecedented rate. You’ve probably seen pictures of smoke billowing over the rainforest, or the sky as it turned dark over São Paulo, thousands of kilometers away. Unfortunately, leaders such as Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro don’t seem to grasp the weight of what’s going on.
Bolsonaro has only just deployed military troops to fight the fires, as reported by Vox, following global criticism and threats of economic consequences from the likes of the French President Emmanuel Macron.
Previously Bolsonaro claimed that Brazil lacked the necessary resources, and his policies regarding rainforest industry are thought to be fuelling the blaze (the WWF calls the near 75,000 Amazon fires recorded this year “a direct consequence of accelerated deforestation”).
Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the US “stand ready to assist” with fighting the fires, but continues in his denials of climate change and support for unregulated industry.
Just spoke with President @JairBolsonaro of Brazil. Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before. I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
Unfortunately, this means what we’re seeing is now quite a familiar sight: celebrities stepping in to pick up the slack of our world leaders. Yesterday, for example, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $5 million to fight the Amazon fires.
The funds will be distributed between five local groups “combating the fires, protecting indigenous lands, and providing relief to the communities impacted”.
The donation comes through DiCaprio’s newly-formed Earth Alliance, an environmental foundation founded last month alongside philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth. Earth Alliance’s Amazon Forest Fund is just the latest of the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood actor’s environmental efforts. Earlier this year the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (set up in 1998) embraced AI to save elephants and tigers.
There has also been a recent, large-scale indigenous effort to protest Amazon destruction; tens of thousands took to the streets of Brasília to denounce Bolsonaro’s “genocidal” policies.
Earth Alliance is apparently taking donations, but you can also donate through the WWF.