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Extreme Sports Legend Dean Potter Dies

Dean Potter, 43, and Graham Hunt, 29, died on Saturday following a BASE jumping accident in Yosemite National Park. They were attempting a wingsuit flight leaping from a promontory at Taft Point, 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

Potter was a climbing and wingsuit pioneer and creator of  "freebase," a hybrid extreme sport that combined rock climbing without ropes and skydiving.

BASE jumping is illegal in Yosemite and those that attempt it risk being arrested and fined. Potter and Hunt tried to clear a notch in the granite cliffs but missed and smashed into the rocks.

Reports say that the spotter heard a "pop-pop" and assumed it was their parachutes opening, but after she tried to reach them via text and there was no response, she informed park officials of their disappearance. According to park spokesman Scott Gediman, a search-and-rescue operation was launched early Sunday morning, with up to 100 people including park rangers and volunteers surveying the park for the men. Crews in a California Highway Patrol helicopter spotted their bodies on the wall of rock along Yosemite Valley, and both were flown out.

Potter lived in Yosemite with girlfriend Jennifer Rapp and his dog, Whisper. Hunt, who lived in El Portal, California, was described by friend Shawn Reeder as "an amazing soul living a human life to the fullest with humility, love and a shining light that affected most people it shined upon." Reeder said Hunt "was very inspiring" and he now wants to be sure he lives his "life more present in every moment, just like Graham did."

Last year in an interview with Outside, Potter said, "When I was a little boy, my first memory was a flying dream. In my dream, I flew—and I also fell. I always wondered as I got older if it was some premonition of falling to my death." Watch here:

In this video, Potter is Base jumping with his dog:

Potter, one of the most recognized figure in extreme sports, was also renowned for his tightrope walking. Watch this incredible video as Potter is crossing the Enshi Grand Canyon in central China's Hubei province, 1,800 meters above sea level in 2012:

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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