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environmental awareness

This artificial intelligence is trying to save the Amazon

Amazonas en Llamas (Amazon in Flames) is an interactive environmental project designed for social networks whose main objective is to take advantage of new technological resources to raise awareness among young people around the world about the problem of climate change and the actions that can be taken in this regard.
Amazonas en Llamas (Amazon in Flames) is an interactive environmental project designed for social networks whose main objective is to take advantage of new technological resources to raise awareness among young people around the world about the problem of climate change and the actions that can be taken in this regard.

The 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change took place between October 28 and November 12. The event was the scene of negotiations, treaties and agreements established between different countries aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions and slowing down the advance of global warming. In parallel, thousands of young people, territorial leaders and environmentalists met in Glasgow in order to articulate new strategies to demand active and urgent policies on the part of the States.

One of those people was Eyal Weintraub, who attended the event in order to spread the word Amazonas en Llamas, an interactive environmental project designed for social networks. 

– Don’t be scared, I’m in the year 2030. I came back because your life is in danger. Do not disconnect. 

The phrase, which seems to be taken from a Philip K. Dick novel, is the first message that the Amazonas en Llamas user receives when he begins to chat via WhatsApp , Messenger or Telegram with Jazmin Mendes, one of the three characters that are part of the story told in the project. Then, the user goes through different challenges – which include watching videos or listening to audio – while exchanging messages with a chatbot made from artificial intelligence.

The main objective of the project is to take advantage of new technological resources to educate young people around the world about the problem of climate change and the actions that can be taken in this regard. 

Amazonas en Llamas arose from a storytelling grant awarded by National Geographic to the Argentine company Talk2U. In the development of the project, biologists, anthropologists, jurists, geoengineers and representatives of the original communities of the Amazon participated. In addition, a network of thousands of young talkers contributed to the development of the story, the creation of the script, and the testing of the technology.

On this point, Eyal Weintraub explained: “To solve the climate crisis, the action of activists, politicians, scientists and indigenous peoples is required. Working with people belonging to different disciplines allowed for a greater plurality of voices and, in this way, to appeal to a wider audience ”.

Nicolás Ferrario, scriptwriter and one of the founders of the project, commented that one of the advantages of developing a project for social networks is that a large part of the population already has one of them installed on their cell phone. In addition, he added that being a private tool, each user can create their own experience: “It is a space where no one feels ashamed for not knowing something that many would take for granted. It is also interesting to think about what happens to those people who do not believe that global warming exists. It must be much more difficult to position oneself against it in a classroom or in a group of friends where the fear of being judged is very present ”.

In recent years, environmental issues have been increasingly on the public agenda. Even so, in most Latin American countries there are no specific laws aimed at raising awareness on the subject. In May 2021, the Environmental Education Law was approved in Argentina. Its main objective is to incorporate the new sustainability paradigms into the fields of formal and non-formal education.

In this regard, Nicole Becker , a reference for the Argentine organization Youth for Climate, said: “The environmental education law is something basic to understand the present and transform the future. We are experiencing the greatest crisis of the 21st century, and if we do not study what is happening we are going to be very complicated ”. One of the big problems when dealing with the subject in the classroom is that there is a very large gap in terms of pedagogical content. In that sense, Amazon on Fire is an entertaining new way of tackling climate change. 

In a report published in mid-2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported a marked increase in migrants from different regions of the planet due to the effects of climate change. Even so, the figure of environmental refugees is not yet present in the collective imagination. For this reason, it is striking that the characters involved in Amazonas en Llamas are three climate refugees who had to migrate from Brazil to southern Argentina after the ecosystem collapsed.

Climate change is not yet a synonym for the end of the human species, but in the speeches of environmental activists the certainty that climate change is a tragedy that simmers – not so slow – is increasingly present. the chances of reversing it are less and less. Meanwhile, political leaders like Boris Johnson or Jair Bolsonaro continue to deny the existence of global warming.

In a context where scientific evidence does not seem to be enough for the population to understand the magnitude of the problem, interactive experiences appear as a very powerful tool in terms of environmental awareness. From the perspective of environmental movements, Cop 26 is the perfect setting to mobilize and demand that governments take real measures in the face of the environmental crisis. At the same time, it was also an occasion to publicize projects capable of generating a positive impact, such as Amazonas en Llamas. 


This story was originally published on Distintas Latitudes, with the support of Climate Tracker.

Julieta Bugacoff
Julieta is a freelance journalist and photographer. She studies anthropology at the National University of San Martín. She usually works with issues related to gender, migration and the environment. She collaborates with media such as New Society, The Cry of the South, LatFem, and The Rocket to the Moon (among others). Since 2020 she has been part of the 5th generation of young journalists of the RedLatam de Distintas Latitudes. Her greatest talent is the ability to relate everything to a Simpsons episode.