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A solitary Brazil nut tree standing by the highway in a cleared patch of rainforest. Colin McPherson / Corbis via Getty Images

By Liberty Vittert

This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society's International Statistic of the Decade.

Much like Oxford English Dictionary's "Word of the Year" competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic that shines a light on the decade's most pressing issues.

On Dec. 23, we announced the winner: the 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon over the past decade. That's 24,000 square miles, or about 10.3 million American football fields.

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Illegal logging on Pirititi indigenous Amazon lands on May 8, 2018. quapan / CC BY 2.0

The UK government is looking to take charge of a major crackdown on the illegal and largely unregulated plundering of forests in developing nations. The UK plans to form a coalition of developing countries to combat the practice as part of its duties as host of the UN's COP26 climate summit in November, as The Guardian reported.

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A lone burnt tree stands on a deforested area in the surroundings of Porto Velho, Rondonia State, in the Amazon basin in west-central Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP via Getty Images

An extensive study that looked at a decade of carbon emissions found that nearly 20 percent of one of the world's largest carbon sinks is actually releasing carbon instead of capturing it, according tso the BBC.

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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.

Ruffed Lemur (Varecia Variegata), Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Toamasina Province, Madagascar. Insights / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Andrea L. Baden

The island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa hosts at least 12,000 plant species and 700 vertebrate species, 80% to 90% of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

Isolated for the last 88 million years and covering an area approximately the size of the northeastern United States, Madagascar is one of the world's hottest biodiversity hotspots. Its island-wide species diversity is striking, but its tropical forest biodiversity is truly exceptional.

Sadly, human activities are ravaging tropical forests worldwide. Habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting of wood and other forest products, over-hunting, invasive species, pollution and climate change are depleting many of these forests' native species.

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Jair Bolsonaro pictured at a presidential debate in Brasilia, Brazil June 6, 2018. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / CC BY-NC 2.0

Despite confirmation this week that the deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to take the problem seriously.

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The deforestation rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, CNN reported Tuesday.

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Panama's anti-narcotics personnel prepare to incinerate 26.2 tons of seized cocaine and marijuana at the Bayano's River mouth area, outskirts of Panama City, on Sept. 20. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP / Getty Images

The cocaine trade and efforts to combat it, including the U.S.-led war on drugs, are helping to drive deforestation in Central America, new research shows.

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Brazil from space. Harvepino / iStock / Getty Images

Norway has urged its companies that actively do business in Brazil to make sure that they are not contributing to destruction of the Amazon rainforest, as Reuters reported.

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Horseshoe bats were the source of SARS. Scientists consider bats to be a possible source of coronavirus. Marko Konig / Getty Images

By Frederick Cohan, Kathleen Sagarin and Kelly Mei

As the novel coronavirus death toll mounts, it is natural to worry. How far will this virus travel through humanity, and could another such virus arise seemingly from nowhere?

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Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire, one of many spewing toxic haze across the region causing an increase in reports of respiratory illnesses, in Kampar, Riau on Sept. 23. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

By Sakinah Ummu Haniy, Hidayah Hamzah and Mirzha Hanifah

Indonesia's forest fires have made headlines globally over the past few weeks. This year's forest fires have affected millions of people. Schools have closed in some areas due to unsafe levels of air pollution, while many people are suffering from respiratory illnesses. The haze has spread so far as to affect Singapore and Malaysia.

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A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

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Indigenous people of various ethnic groups protest calling for demarcation of lands during the closing of the 'Red January - Indigenous Blood', in Paulista Avenue, in São Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 31, 2019. Cris Faga / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet's biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.

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In response a report by Majority Action, members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Mothers Out Front (MOF), Sunrise Movement NYC, Sierra Club and 350Brooklyn gathered for a press conference on Sept. 17, 2019 outside BlackRock offices in New York City. Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images

BlackRock, an investment fund that manages nearly $7 trillion, will "reshape" its strategy toward investments that support environmental sustainability, according to a letter to investors from its founder and Chief Executive Larry Fink, as The New York Times reported.

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Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

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Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

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Fires in peat land in Cengal of South Sumatra's Ogan Komering Ilir district, Indonesia. Nopri Isim / Mongabay Indonesia

By Hans Nicholas Jong

The makers of Oreo cookies and KitKat chocolate bars are among the companies getting some of their palm oil from producers linked to the fires that have razed large swaths of land in Indonesia, a new report says.

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Journalists were found dead at a palm oil plantation like this one in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. ILO Asia-Pacific / Flickr

By Ayat S. Karokaro and adapted by Basten Gokkon

Two Indonesian journalists who had reported on an illegal oil palm plantation in Sumatra while also allegedly trying to gain control of the crop have been found dead at the plantation.

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View of an Ivorian cleared forest at the edge of the 35.000 hectares Peko Mont National Park on Oct. 8, 2016. The Mont Péko National Park is located in the west of Ivory Coast where the forest officers fight with illegal immigrants to protect an exceptional flora and fauna, espacially dwarf elephants. SIA KAMBOU / AFP / Getty Images

Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.

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