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Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Brazil's Amazon rainforest is facing rapid deforestation under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The Amazon, the largest and most biodiverse rainforest on the planet, plays an essential part in slowing global warming. The seas of greenery absorb and store carbon dioxide, preventing the gas from overwhelming our atmosphere. But when trees are plowed, carbon has nowhere to go, risking further increases in global temperatures.

The big picture: Bolsonaro campaigned on opening up the Amazon to new economic ventures. Just 7 months into his presidency, he's keeping true on the promise, with the Brazilian part of the rainforest shedding 1,330 square miles of forest cover — 39% more than was lost during the same period last year, according to the Times. About 80% more forest cover was lost this June compared to 2018.

  • Bolsonaro has also cut the budget for Brazil's main environmental agency by 24%.
  • A New York Times analysis showed environmental enforcement measures like fines or seizures have fallen 20% in the first 6 months of the year compared to 2018.
  • The administration has hinted at the possibility of ending a $1.3 billion Amazon restoration fund, fueled in part by Germany and Norway. Bolsonaro has said that the "Amazon is ours, not yours," and insisted it should not be a concern to non-Brazilians.

Between the lines: Deforestation for the sake of economic growth had already been a marketable stance prior to Bolsonaro's leadership. Per the New York Times: "As the economy plunged into a recession in 2014, the country became more reliant on the agricultural commodities it produces — beef and soy, which are drivers of deforestation — and on the powerful rural lobby. Land clearing began to tick upward again."

Go deeper: Deforestation of Brazil's Amazon rainforest reaches decade high

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

The latest: Greater Manchester Police, in Northwest England, tweeted on Sunday night that officers had arrested and detained two teenagers in South Manchester for questioning in relation to the siege in Colleyville, Texas, "as part of the ongoing investigation into the attack."

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.