Forests

U.S. wildfires scorched 4.6 million acres of land in 2019

A firefighter using a drip torch near Somis, California
A firefighter using a drip torch near Somis, California, Nov. 1. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

49,661 wildfires burned 4.6 million acres in the U.S. in 2019, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC).

Why it matters: That's a 46% drop in acres burned and an 11% decrease in total fires from the 2018 season.

Brazilian official says the nation needs to address deforestation

The head of Brazilian defense, Augusto Heleno.
Gen. Augusto Heleno. Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil's top security official is vowing to tackle the country's uptick in deforestation months after rampant fires in the Amazon rainforest thrust the issue into the international spotlight, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: The Amazon, the world's largest and most biodiverse rainforest, plays a significant role in slowing global warming. But pro-development President Jair Bolsonaro has sanctioned its deforestation to fulfill a campaign promise of opening the Amazon to new agricultural and mining opportunities.