I’m refurbishing my notes on various environmental topics and came across this page from the UK’s office of the World Wildlife Fund. Here is what they say about threats to the Amazon:
More than half of the Amazon rainforest could be lost or severely damaged as early as 2030 if current trends in deforestation, droughts, forest fires and global greenhouse gas emissions continue.
Global warming is already affecting the Amazon. If we don’t take action to tackle climate change, Amazon rainforests could dry up and die over the course of this century. That will have further catastrophic effects on the climate – creating a vicious cycle, a dangerous ‘feedback loop’.
And then here is the picture they show to go along with it.
Wait, what? Is that a picture of the CO2 in the atmosphere increasing? Of a rising thermometer in the Amazon? No.
It is a picture of a BURNING TREE.
Click around the page I linked to above. Search for all of the research and data they present to quantify and demonstrate just how much deforestation, droughts, fires and GHG contribute to problems in the Amazon. Keep looking. And looking. And looking.
This strategy is all too common. There are serious risks to the planet and to the Amazon. Many of these risks are indeed caused by humans. The Amazon is at risk because we are burning it and chopping down trees and to a lesser extent due to pollution and other land use changes. But the impact of global warming is far off in the distance of possible threats. But here we are with one of the largest, well-funded and influential NGOs in the world claiming that global warming is the end of the world for the amazon, yet cannot even bother to make believe to demonstrate it with a fake picture or some exaggerated data taken out of context. Nope. Now in the world of environmentalism we have pictures of trees that farmers intentionally set on fire to demonstrate the problem of climate change? No data to be seen. No papers to be linked to. Just a gloomy threat that climate change is happening now and if something is not done about it, the Amazon is doomed.
Folks, it’s bad enough to recognize the psychological biases we all face. There is a well-known problem in psychology called the “Bounceback Effect” which indicates that when we see evidence that is contrary to our beliefs, we tend not to be good Bayesians and modify and update our beliefs, but rather we dig in our heels and cementify (my new world) our existing, possibly wrong, beliefs. That is a problem that is extremely serious when all of the data and facts are true. But now when you have ideologues not even bothering to use evidence, data or sound reason to make arguments and instead are simply making stuff up, playing on our emotions, or using arguments as cover for other beliefs, there is no hope to have a good conversation among people. Certainly, it is not going to make me want to seek out the WWF to learn about other important environmental issues – which is tragic, since they are in a particularly good position to educate folks about them.
This is harmful, anti-scientific, and ultimately, of course, a bigger threat to the health of the Amazon and the planet than even the global warming they are worried about.