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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

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.