Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Delgado said on Oct. 3 that Haiti was facing more damage from Hurricane Matthew than the Dominican Republic because children are eating Haiti's trees (video below).
We're really concerned about Haiti, so we look at the area of the Dominican Republic. And you notice what's different about this NASA image. You see all brown here and then green to the east. That’s because this whole area has been essentially deforested. They take all the trees down, they burn the trees. Even the kids there, they’re so hungry, they actually eat the trees.
Delgado appeared to be using a 2002 picture from NASA.
RawStory.com notes that Twitter responded with a firestorm:
"@JenDelgadoTWC did you really say that kids in Haiti eat trees? Stop spreading lies and false information."
"Damn, I missed it...now I hear people R so poor in #Haiti that they eat TREES! @weatherchannel Jen Delgado #girlbye PROVE IT b4 U report it!"
"It is disgusting that in 2016 #theweatherchannel can have uneducated people like @JenDelgadoTWC."
"According to @JenDelgadoTWC #Haiti's deforestation is a result of children eating the trees. U hear me. #Ignorance in its fullness #Matthew."
Weather Channel CEO David Clark issued an apology on Oct. 3: "We are terribly sorry for the on air error and are taking measures to correct it, it should not have happened."
It's not clear where Delgado got her kids "eat the trees" statement, but it is true there is a deforestation problem in Haiti.
The Ecosystem Marketplace notes:
This once lush Caribbean island nation has been virtually cut clean of its former tree cover by an impoverished people desperate for fuel. Ninety-eight percent of the trees that used to sponge up flood waters, provide refuge for forest animals and buffer mudslides have been cut down. Saplings planted by an endless litany of well-intentioned charitable organizations are sawed down before they can grow by Haitians needing wood to burn.
Haiti offers a heartbreaking illustration of the devastating consequences of narrowly valuing forests for only the commodities they provide – food and fuel – while ignoring the wealth of environmental services and protection forests offer. Now as markets for ecosystem services – carbon, wetlands, and biodiversity – expand their reach, investors are exploring their potential to rescue a tree-starved Haiti.