Aug 22, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 404 words, a 2 minute read.

1 big thing: Earth's lungs are burning

A charred trunk is seen on a tract of Amazon jungle that was recently burned by loggers and farmers in Brazil. Photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

The Amazon rainforest is burning faster than usual, it's most likely because of humans clearing land for agriculture, and it will make efforts to fight climate change harder if it doesn't stop fast.

  • Why it matters: "By one recent estimate, the trees of the Amazon rainforest pulled in carbon dioxide equivalent to the fossil fuel emissions of most of the nine countries that own or border the forest between 1980-2010," the BBC reported.

The big picture: Amazon deforestation has sped up under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. Fires in the region are up 77% from last year, and the dry season has just gotten started.

  • As of last month, an area of the Amazon the size of Los Angeles had burned, per the BBC.

Between the lines: It always burns in the Amazon during the dry season. But "natural fires are very rare in the Amazon, so all, or almost all, the fires we are seeing are set by humans," Global Forest Watch's Mikaela Weisse told the N.Y. Times.

  • "It is definitely something to be concerned about, especially with more research coming out about reaching a tipping point."

Bolsonaro isn't just unconcerned — he's made the ludicrous suggestion that the fires are being started by NGOs.

  • “It could be, it could, I’m not saying it is, a criminal action by these N.G.O. people to call attention against me, against the Brazilian government."

The bottom line: The Amazon may not belong to all of us, but what happens there affects all of us.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest.

2. What you missed
  1. Patrick Byrne resigned as CEO of online retailer Overstock.com after the company publicly announced his relationship with admitted Russian agent Maria Butina. Go deeper.
  2. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will join Fox News as a contributor, making her debut on "Fox & Friends" next month. Go deeper.
  3. Scoop: Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan's top aide is resigning amid tensions with the White House. Go deeper.
  4. Rare recall: Edwards Lifesciences is recalling almost 1,600 heart valve replacement systems after discovering balloons that are part of the device are rupturing inside the heart. Go deeper.
  5. Ignoring U.S. objections, South Korea plans to sever an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan amid a crisis between the two key U.S. allies.
3. 1 🐟 thing

Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

California fishermen are reporting one of the best king salmon fishing seasons in years, per the AP, with commercial hauls beating expectations by 50%.

  • Between the lines: This year’s adult salmon are the first class to benefit from record rainfall that filled California rivers and streams in early 2017, making it easier for juvenile chinook to migrate to the Pacific Ocean, where they grow into full-size fish.
Mike Allen