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‘Charcoal Australia’: This viral image isn’t the full story

bigthink.com • February 11, 2020


How bad are the fires in Australia? They're huge, deadly and apocalyptic. But not quite this bad. This three-dimensional visualization of the bushfires Down Under is going viral, in part because it was 'miscaptioned' – to the horror of its creator, Anthony Hearsey.

The image purports to be a view on the country's bushfires from space. It shows Australia lit up all over, like a smoldering piece of charcoal about to ignite entirely. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And nothing illustrates more eloquently the devastating emergency of Australia's bushfires than this horrific map.

However, this is not "a photo of Australian fires taken from the Space Station', as some would have it. The truth is a bit more nuanced.

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