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

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.

Facebook goes after Apple

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking.

2 hours ago - World

Exclusive: UAE wants Israel normalization finalized "as soon as possible," minister says

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, told me in an exclusive interview that his country wants to implement its normalization deal with Israel “as soon as possible."

What he's saying: Gargash said he was confident that the U.S.-brokered deal moved Israeli annexation of the West Bank off the table for a “long time.” He also said Israeli tourists would soon be able to travel to the UAE.