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Associated Press

The amount of land burned from wildfires has decreased nearly 25% across the planet in the past two decades, according to a new study. The reason? Humans have increased the acreage on Earth dedicated to growing food, which has substantially reduced the amount of forests and natural spaces that routinely experience fires.

Why it matters: Fires are a natural part of Earth's ecosystem — they clear dead trees from forests and keep plant growth in check in grasslands. The fact that there has been such a precipitous decline in natural fires globally has important ramifications for global warming, conservation and biodiversity.

What they found: The researchers took a global snapshot of fires based on satellite surveillance data collected between 1998 and 2015. The largest decrease in fires was found in savannas that have been converted to agricultural uses. "(The) long-term declines were more associated with transitions from natural to managed landscapes," the researchers wrote in Science. In these areas where humans had moved in, fire management techniques were "employed to protect high value crops, livestock, homes, infrastructure, and air quality."

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
2 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Snapchat.

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.