Earth lost a staggering amount of forest cover in 2017

Amazon rainforest deforestation.
Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil. Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Last year saw the second-largest tropical tree cover loss on record since 1999, in large part because of human-caused fires in the Amazon, a new analysis from the World Resources Institute and University of Maryland found.

What it means: Trees absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide annually, preventing even more global warming. Losing tree cover means there's the potential for accelerating warming, as well as a range of other effects, including damage to biodiversity.