Deforestation has increased exponentially in Brazil as President Jair Bolsonaro scales back on enforcement measures for illegal forest-related activities.
The Brazilian Amazon has already lost more than 2,100 square kilometers (1,330 square miles) of forest cover since the inauguration of populist President Jair Bolsonaro in January, reported Letícia Casado
and Ernesto Londoño
for the New York Times. Bolsonaro’s administration is easing enforcement
measures related to illegal logging, ranching and mining and emphasizing the revenue potential of exploiting the Amazon for economic development. Ignoring pleas from environmental organizations and European governments such as Germany and Norway
, Bolsonaro has expressed plans to continue easing back on environmental regulations
The Big Picture: More than half of the Amazon rainforest
is contained within Brazil’s borders, absorbing and storing vast amounts of the carbon that contributes to the climate breakdown. While stopping deforestation is critical to halting climate change, any conservation efforts to protect the Amazon's remaining trees must also involve and benefit the local communities who rely on it daily, explained Daniela Raik, Conservation International's senior vice president of the Americas. “We are supporting efforts to better manage timber and non-timber forest products, as well as to restore degraded areas,” she said, "activities that are bringing income
to people, which government officials at all levels — including the federal level — support."
Four of the world’s largest automakers signed a deal with California to produce more fuel-efficient cars in the coming years, following the regulations set during the Obama administration.
Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen agreed to a fuels initiative deal with the California Air Resources Board to produce fleets averaging 50 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2026, reported Juliet Eilperin
and Brady Dennis
for the Washington Post. This deal undercuts the Trump administration’s climate policy
rollbacks, which would freeze mileage requirements for cars and light trucks at a 37 mpg average
. The four companies credited their motivation for this decision to maintaining predictability and affordability for customers, while acting as environmental stewards in the automotive industry.
Despite the vast size of the ocean, sharks have very little refuge from deadly human activity, according to new research.
After tracking more than 1,500 sharks and tens of thousands of fishing vessels around the world, researchers determined that around 24 percent of the space frequented by sharks overlaps with longline fishing hotspots each month, reported Nell Greenfieldboyce for NPR. Longliners set lines that can extend up to 15 miles and are covered with hundreds of bait hooks, often catching non-target fish species
— including sharks — as a result. Massive data collection during this study
showed just how little undisturbed ocean space there is available for sharks avoiding these lines.
The Big Picture: As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in balancing
ocean ecosystems. Without refuge from fishing vessels, shark populations continue to decrease — but the data from this study could inform governments on better management conservation techniques in fishing hotspots.
Kiley Price is a staff writer for Conservation International.
Cover image: Deforestation in the Amazon of Brazil (© Flavio Forner)