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Aerial view of deforestation in the Western Amazon region of Brazil in September 2017. Photo: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

A new government report released on Friday said the demolition of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, driven by illegal logging and the expansion of agriculture in the area, has reached its highest level in a decade, per BBC.

Why it matters, per Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: The trees and soils of the Amazon rainforest make the region a massive carbon sink, meaning that cutting down trees and replacing them with palm oil plantations or mines causes more planet-warming greenhouse gases to be emitted into the air. With the newly elected leader of Brazil pledging to further develop the Amazon, many climate and forestry experts fear the deforestation rate will only increase.

The details: The annual survey, which relied on satellite data from the deforestation monitoring project known as Prodes, said about 3,050 square miles of the rainforest were destroyed between August 2017 and July 2018, BBC reports. That's about five times the size of London.

  • Brazil’s environment minister, Edson Duarte, said illegal logging is the main factor behind the increasing deforestation in the world's largest rainforest.
  • Greenpeace Brazil said the future of the rainforest depends on the government of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, adding that “the predictions for the Amazon (and for the climate) are not good. The president-elect vowed to attack exactly what made deforestation decline. … Everything that worked in the fight against forest destruction is under threat.”

Go deeper

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.