L A Times anti-science propaganda campaign hyping Amazon fires

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L A Times is at it again pushing climate alarmist propaganda distortion, deception and dishonesty hyping the recent fires burning in the Amazon region.


The Times reporter drones on about the magnitude of deforestation underway in the Amazon with the following inaccurate and hyped discussion:

“Flames are spreading across the Amazon rainforest this summer, spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each day. But scientists say that’s not their biggest concern. They’re far more worried about what the fires represent: a dramatic increase in illegal deforestation that could deprive the world of a critical buffer against climate change.

More than a soccer field’s worth of Amazon forest is falling every minute, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, known as INPE. Preliminary estimates from satellite data revealed that deforestation in June rose almost 90% compared with the same month last year, and by 280% in July.

The Amazon is a key component of Earth’s climate system. It holds about a quarter as much carbon as the entire atmosphere and single-handedly absorbs about 5% of all the CO2 we emit each year.

But if such rapid deforestation continues, it will foil efforts to keep global temperatures in check. Scientists fear parts of the Amazon could pass a critical threshold and transform from a lush rainforest into a dry, woody grassland. And that could bring catastrophic consequences not only for people in South America, but also for everyone around the world.”

The Times presents its “scientific evidence” of the grave “tipping point” increases in deforestation underway with the following graph:


But as always with the dishonesty of alarmism fabricated by the L A Times reality presents a quite different picture when a more complete analysis is undertaken with the result clearly demonstrating the propaganda focused objective of the Times.

A more complete and objective assessment of the deforestation issues in the Brazilian Amazon provided by another article shows a much more comprehensive picture of the history of declining deforestation that was astoundingly ignored by the alarmist Times as noted below.


The article notes:

“Interestingly, when NASA released the satellite image on August 21, it noted that “it is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity. Time will tell if this year is a record breaking or just within normal limits.”

So why are there so many fires? “Natural fires in the Amazon are rare, and the majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year’s crops and pasture,” soberly explains The New York Times. “Much of the land that is burning was not old-growth rain forest, but land that had already been cleared of trees and set for agricultural use.”

It is routine for farmers and ranchers in tropical areas burn their fields to control pests and weeds and to encourage new growth in pastures.

What about deforestation trends?  Since the right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro became Brazil’s president, rainforest deforestation rates have increased a bit, but they are still way below their earlier highs.”

So once again we have the L A Times fabricating phony alarmist issues and making false claims based upon its complete lack of honest news integrity while displaying its total focus on manufacturing alarmism propaganda.

Forbes published an article addressing the fact that just about every hyped up account of these fires is wrong.


The article chastised at length the unjustified alarmist news coverage and provided a graph that puts the recent number of fires in perspective.


The article offered the following enlightening discussion about the absurd alarmist campaign present in much of the world’s media regarding these fires:

“One of Brazil’s leading environmental journalists agrees that media coverage of the fires has been misleading. “It was under [Workers Party President] Lula and [Environment Secretary] Marina Silva (2003-2008) that Brazil had the highest incidence of burning,” Leonardo Coutinho told me over email. “But neither Lula nor Marina was accused of putting the Amazon at risk.”

Coutinho’s perspective was shaped by reporting on the ground in the Amazon for Veja, Brazil’s leading news magazine, for nearly a decade. By contrast, many of the correspondents reporting on the fires have been doing so from the cosmopolitan cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which are 2,500 miles and four hours by jet plane away.

“What is happening in the Amazon is not exceptional,” said Coutinho. “Take a look at Google web searches search for ‘Amazon’ and ‘Amazon Forest’ over time. Global public opinion was not as interested in the ‘Amazon tragedy’ when the situation was undeniably worse. The present moment does not justify global hysteria.”

And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazonforest fires have.”

“Amazon forest fires are hidden by the tree canopy and only increase during drought years. “We don’t know if there are any more forest fires this year than in past years, which tells me there probably isn’t,” Nepstad said. “I’ve been working on studying those fires for 25 years and our [on-the-ground] networks are tracking this.”

“What increased by 7% in 2019 are the fires of dry scrub and trees cut down for cattle ranching as a strategy to gain ownership of land.

Against the picture painted of an Amazon forest on the verge of disappearing, a full 80% remains standing. Half of the Amazon is protected against deforestation under federal law.”

“Few stories in the first wave of media coverage mentioned the dramatic drop in deforestation in Brazil in the 2000s,” noted former New York Timesreporter Andrew Revkin, who wrote a 1990 book, The Burning Season, about the Amazon, and is now Founding Director, Initiative on Communication & Sustainability at The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Deforestation declined a whopping 70% from 2004 to 2012. It has risen modestly since then but remains at one-quarter its 2004 peak. And just 3% of the Amazon is suitable for soy farming.”

The L A Times article of course was silent on any rational assessment of the history of declining deforestation and related fires in favor of pushing its usual climate alarmist propaganda campaign garbage. 

63 thoughts on “L A Times anti-science propaganda campaign hyping Amazon fires

  1. “a critical buffer against climate change” ?
    The “Climate” has been “Changing” for approximately 4.5 billion years ! Why would the Earth need a Buffer” against climate change” ? I think the Earth needs “a critical buffer” between these brain washed sociopaths and reality…That would be WUWT ! ….IMHO…

  2. Larry

    Stop being nice…they intentionally lie….PERIOD !
    Time to start thinking about ending the “special protection” of the MSM…

    • “It was under [Workers Party President] Lula and [Environment Secretary] Marina Silva (2003-2008) that Brazil had the highest incidence of burning,”

      So Lula and Lula inherited record levels of burning in 2003, by the time they left office, they had managed to cut it in half. Maybe that is why they were not attacked for burning the forest.

      Blaming Lula for fires in 2003 makes even less sense than blaming the new pres. who came to office only last year.

      It seems that everyone has their own spin on this. The facts be damned.

      • He was still president when it shot up again in 2010. The whole point might be that when it is still nowhere near as high in 2018, it becomes a crisis purely because of politics.

    • Probably it is good to read the text in your link. In my perspective is balanced and there is no problem in the data showed. A lot more balanced than the LA Times article.

    • John Collis,
      You write “Also the BBC” on this story.
      My impression is that could very easily be applied to many – if not quite all – their stories related to climate/weather [always more extreme, and worse than we thought(although the science is, obviously settled)]; finance [a People’s widget maker would never do ‘that’ – profits are so-o-o-o-o bad]; politics [democracy is wrong – unless our Hampstead-lefty world-view is totally backed]; even sport [Poisoner Putin’s drug-fuelled Russia is really pretty innocent (and is probably being traduced) compared with a dumb American who has missed three tests in a year].
      Their veneer of impartiality wore away long ago.


  3. If everyone is going to tell tall tales and hype the Amazon fires this burning season, then my bet is that President Macron of France and PM Trudeau of Canada are probably behind the setting of so many fires at once which just happened to coincide with the G7 Meeting in France this last weekend. They did this in order to try and shame President Trump on the climate change file, by getting the global media to cover this day and night in a media blitz to also shame right wing President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil who also indicated that these fires were set by NGO’s. Since this has become all hype, lies and a total misinformation blitz, my bet is as valid as any other explanation, even though I just completely made this up 2 minutes ago. And that is how this whole Amazon Rainforest fire season seems to be reported this year as well. It is a complete media misinformation scheme designed to foster one narrative and that is this is the result of the CAGW meme that the world is ending and why we need to tax carbon to end the age of oil and coal.

    • You know, I’m surprised that Brazil hasn’t left the Paris climate hoax yet. I wonder if that will be a response to Macaroon and the other globalists socialists behind this moral panic?

      • Brazil is looking get free money from the Climate Aid Fund.
        Just like Free Beer, who doesn’t like Free Money when it’s someone else’s?

        • It’s a puppet and China is pulling the strings. There is a moral panic about farmers on the edge of the Amazon burning off scrub at the same time that there are lakes of toxic sludge in China from the manufacture of wind turbine parts and solar panels that the global socialists don’t even care about.

  4. Wow! Those fires only burn rectangular patches of forest. It’s a miracle. Call the Vatican and get this “miracle” recognized.

    • vatican has its head up its cassock;-)
      its in on the co2 scam bigtime so dont bother trying to wake em u[p
      they know its fake they just dont care, they too have an agenda

  5. Looks like this is mostly about the international community trying to discredit Brazil’s new Trump-like president.

  6. My question is how many of those burning acres are deliberately set by farmers intending to put the land to productive use? My guess is most of it. Fortunately, a few million bucks of virtue signalling is harmless in the scheme of things.

  7. “Flames are spreading across the Amazon rainforest this SUMMER”??
    Major American newspaper totally unaware that it is now MID-WINTER in Brazil, it being located in the southern hemisphere. Back to elementary school, journos.

      • Curious, 98% of Brazilians live south of the equator, 2% north.
        The vast bulk of Amazonas is also south, the fire maps showing only two small spots north of 0 deg in all Brazil, not to mention 100% of the Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina fires.
        I suspect the non-curious LA Times was intended this as a “hot summer” story.

      • North of Equator, South, North Pole, South Pole, Siberia, Cape Town, Pacific, New Zealand, every patch on the globe lives through four seasons.

        That’s usual habit on this Planet.

    • As a matter of fact, Near the equator there’s not clearly a Summer or a Winter season. Your point is partially right.

      • “Near the equator there’s not clearly a Summer or a Winter season.”

        Maybe there’s a wet season and a dry season?

  8. Good reality check, Larry. It is not common for rain forest, aka jungle, to burn, but I saw it myself once. That’s right, I was flying over the jungle when a large fireball erupted……..wait a minute, that was napalm! My bad!

    The organic debris that collects on the jungle floor, is in the process of rapid rotting, which is a chemical process of oxidation. The leaves are converting CO2 to O2, and the rotting below consumes O2. I wonder what the balance is?

  9. I JUST heard some douche’ politician claim this morning that Brazil is deliberately burning the Rainforest to make way for soybean production in the wake of China’s restrictions and tariffs placed on American soybeans. Inotherwords … Orange man bad, and Brazilian Trump even worse. Facts be damned … the electorate don’t need no steenking facts to Vote against Trump

    • Unfortunately that as the same level of credibility as the causes Pointed by the Brasilian President. So all are douches in Brasil? How stupid this kind of arguments can be?

    • True – one of the Democrats running for Pres made that statement. It is true that the Chinese tariff on soybeans meant that China had to by theirs elsewhere – only Brazil could supply the quantities needed – but it does NOT follow that burning rain forests now would in any way make the ground plant able for soybeans any time soon.

    • Given this very low-level thinking and connecting of dots, we are overdue for a computer algorithm to take over these duties after enough idiotic thoughts are loaded and rational computer logic is suppressed.

  10. The “Greenland is melting” scare is over, so it was time for the alarmists to move onto the next “disaster.” They will be on to the hurricanes in a matter of days. And don’t forget… Greta is due to arrive in New York tomorrow, so that will probably take center stage for several days.

  11. “President Bolsonaro tells Emmanuel Macron that HE has to ‘withdraw insults’ before Brazil will accept G7 Amazon aid – after sparking fury when he appeared to insult Brigitte Macron”


    “Mr Bolsonaro said his French counterpart had called him a liar, and accused him of questioning Brazil’s sovereignty amid tensions over devastating fires sweeping the Amazon region.”

  12. the only thing that’s changed….is Brazil has a conservative president

    …if Brazil had a liberal president….the click bait would be bat fever or some other nonsense where some other conservative government is

  13. Let’s not underestimate proven dangers of climate change. Didn’t it cause the Notre Dame cathedral fire in Paris? /sarc

    • And it caused my toast to land marmalade side up yesterday.
      And that Milky Way Merger the BBC is breathlessly reporting.
      No other explanation is possible.
      The science is fixed – err – settled.

      Mods – yes, a bit /Sarc. But I’m not sorry.

  14. > More than a soccer field’s worth of Amazon forest is falling every minute, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, known as INPE.

    Q: How Big Is the Amazon Rainforest?
    A: The Amazon basin is about 7 million square kilometers or 1.7 billion acres.

    Q: How big is a soccer field in acres?
    A: Regulation-sized soccer fields are 100 yards by 130 yards, or 2.69 acres.

    Q: What is 1.7 billion acres divided by 2.69 acres?
    A: 632 million minutes. 10.5 million hours. 439,000 days. 1200 years.

    Please. Even -IF- it were actually rainforest…

    • Your sizing of football fields gives the maximum size permitted. The minimum is 100 yards by 50 yards. Most professional type fields are approx. 115 by 80 yards extending your years tp destroy the Amazon by a factor of at least 2.

    • Its usually reported as every second or 150 000 square kilometres per year (which is every two seconds). Actual rain forest is 5.5 million so a little over thirty years. The problem is that the claim has been made nearly ever year for the past 30 years.

  15. I wonder when we’ll reach a tipping point in tipping points. 😉 Seems to me it should have happened years ago, but I guess we won’t know until tipping time.

  16. Thanks for the great information, Larry. Forest management in the Amazon or California matters.

    For example, The State Of California MISSPENT 10 times more on electric vehicles than on controlled forest fires and underbrush removal, $335 million to $30 million, in the last fiscal year.

    In fact, a February 2018 report by the Little Hoover Commission, the State Oversight Committee for the State of California, found that CA has “ignored the gathering underbrush and dead trees in their forests for 100 years.” Current forest fires probably nullified California’s “hard-fought carbon reductions.”

    One can only wonder what would have happened if California or Brazil had spent significant money on forest management.


  17. Interesting poll from Biofuels Digest. This blog is totally for biofuels so those that respond to their polls are also so inclined. but in a poll of Trump vs Democratic candidates, Trump polled 31%, higher than all the other individual candidates. Considering that this is a renewable energy group, this was surprising.

    In Florida, US President Donald Trump led 19 other candidates in the first Digest Bioeconomy 2020 US Presidential Poll, gaining 31.7 percent support in the bipartisan poll which featured 18 leading Democratic candidates along with the President and his lone declared Republican challenger.
    Leading among Democrats were former Vice President Joe Biden at 21.1 percent, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 11.6 percent, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar at 6.3 percent, entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 6.2 percent and South Bend, Indiana mayor Peter Buttigieg at 5.8 percent. No other candidate reached 4 percent in the poll of Digest readers. Non-registered voters were able to vote but their preferences were not included in the totals above.
    The Digest audience is not representative of the US as a whole, skewing slightly younger and more towards rural areas and financial centers that are closely interlinked with the advanced bioeconomy.

  18. The historical imagery on Google Earth is telling. You can clearly see that vast deforestation occurred between 1984-2004 and only the edges of those cleared areas have been cut since. There will probably be near a record low in deforestation next year but the media will have moved on like a cat chasing a laser.

    • “but the media will have moved on like a cat chasing a laser.”

      “Liberals have 100 tails and they chase them all.”
      —H.L. Mencken

  19. “RICO Racketeering Probe Beckons After Michael Mann’s Court Defeat”


    “Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing.”


  20. The hyper-promotion needs action and the fire season in North America is not generating headlines.
    So they are hyping brush burning in Brazil.
    Looked up British Columbia, where I live. It is divided into six regions.
    And all six are —“No fires of note”.
    Found a fire-risk map of Canada–only small regions on either side of James Bay are marked red as dangerous.
    No comments on a conflagration of nothing-burgers.

  21. But on a different subject a potential weather-cooler seems to be underway.
    Yesterday, Shiveluch in Kamchatka erupted. Ranked as a VEI of 5/6 and continuing.
    Worth watching the news on this one.
    Ash and aerosols up to 70,000 feet.

  22. Search Google Maps for “Tupana, Amazonas, Brazil” and select Satelite view to see a current image of the fires. They are all within a few hundred feet of the road.

  23. Larry,
    The claim by President Macron that the Amazon provides 20% of the Earth’s oxygen is complete rubbish.
    See “ No, the Amazon fires won’t deplete the earth’s oxygen. Here’s why.” at PBS.org.
    The article is from Scott Denning, atmospheric scientist on The Conversation.

  24. “single-handedly absorbs about 5% of all the CO2 we emit each year.”

    I’m very curious how one reaches such figure. They say that up to 85% of generated oxygen is due of oceans (I would expect something similar for the absorbtion of CO2). The amazonian forest is just a fraction of the whole forests of the Earth, less than a third, that’s sure. How could it absorb 5%? Especially since it’s not growing, but decreasing in size…

  25. For climate alarmists that can’t face science reality results from two new studies utilizing NASA satellite data show that in the last 35 years global forests have increased growth by over 2.2 million square kilometers due to increasing CO2 and that global fires have declined by 25% since 2003.



    https://earth observatory.nasa.gov/images/145421/building-a-long-term-record-of-fire

    • OK, I read the LAT article. I fail to see the “anti-science” propaganda in it. Why did you use the red graph, which apparently goes up to, but doesn’t include any part of August (or in some other way doesn’t represent the 80% you talk about), rather than the more illustrative one presented in the LAT? THAT seems like propaganda to me. You got a bunch of quotes from one guy who supported your views: ” Since the right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro became Brazil’s president, rainforest deforestation rates have increased a bit, but they are still way below their earlier highs.” Did you even read the LAT article talking about the efforts made to decrease forest clearing? The article never denies that it was higher; the worry is that we are seeing a new trend.

      “The Times presents its “scientific evidence” of the grave “tipping point” increases in deforestation underway with the following graph:” BS. That has nothing to do with the tipping point. The tipping point is about the fact that the Amazon creates its own climate. The scientists do not say a tipping point is underway, they say they fear it will come. You have to remember that the amount of clearing accrues over time. The clearing in the past was significant, and it certainly did draw attention. Sure, the media is more interested in climate change and POLITICAL change in Brazil now, but that doesn’t prove it’s lying.

      “And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazonforest fires have.”

      “Amazon forest fires are hidden by the tree canopy and only increase during drought years. ‘We don’t know if there are any more forest fires this year than in past years, which tells me there probably isn’t'”

      Forest fires are an interesting issue, but different. The increase in Amazonian fires is not primarily in forest fires, it’s in cleared land – land that once was forest. The issues of deforestation and fires are related.

      “So once again we have the L A Times fabricating phony alarmist issues and making false claims based upon its complete lack of honest news integrity while displaying its total focus on manufacturing alarmism propaganda.” What is fabricated? What false claims? You are doing no better (I’d say worse) than they in your presentation, so if theirs is propaganda, yours surely is, too.

  26. The second graph does not include 2019.

    The third graph makes no sense. It clearly doesn’t show an 80% increase from 2018 to 2019. And are you sure it’s for “forest fires”? The graph here seems more accurate: https://en.wikipedia.org/api/rest_v1/page/graph/png/2019_Amazon_rainforest_wildfires/0/5c56adde667c8cc1f9916c80d61ec94bd5ba8b2c.png

    In any case, that’s for all of Brazil, not just the Amazon. Wikipedia breaks down the raw numbers and percentage increase in fires by Brazilian state, and highlights those in the Amazon. Shows a different picture.

    One has to remember, too, that the Amazon extends beyond Brazil’s borders. And that Bolsonaro has opened the way for more deforestation, so that this may be just the start of a longer-term trend. “At one point in August 2019, Bolsonaro jokingly calling himself “Captain Chainsaw” while asserting that INPE’s data was inaccurate.[60] After INPE announced an 88% increase of wildfires in July 2019, Bolsonaro claimed “the numbers were fake” and fired Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, the INPE director” (Wikipedia)

  27. Larry,

    Who says “alarmists” don’t believe that?

    If anything, that’s more alarming, since despite the increase in global tree cover (which is potentially different from forest) and greater area burned (which isn’t necessarily in forest), CO2 continues to rise.

    Your second reference also says, ““There are really two separate trends,” said Randerson. “Even as the global burned area number has declined because of what is happening in savannas, we are seeing a significant increase in the intensity and reach of fires in the western United States because of climate change.” If you are going to trust it about one thing you want to be true, you should trust it about something you may not want to bring up since it tends to take the punch out of your enthusiastic condemnation of “climate alarmists.”

  28. climate scientists fear a tipping point is near

    I have noticed many media articles are now making these type of claims yet fail to show any sources.

    Which scientist or scientists claim this view based on fires at the moment?

    The media are making things up as they go along even more than they use too.

    • Matt,

      Did you read the article? That would be a start. Quotes scientists, and there is a link to a paper.

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