The destruction of the Amazon, explained


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Published on 10 Jan 2020 / In News & Politics

The 2019 fires were just the tip of the iceberg.

This is Part 1 of Vox Atlas: The Amazon, a three-part series about the world's largest rainforest, why it's in jeopardy, and the people trying to save it. Watch all three parts right here on YouTube.
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The Amazon rainforest has been reduced by about 17% since the 1970s. Cattle ranchers, loggers, and farmers are mostly to blame for the deforestation, but the demand driving them comes from all around the world. Brazil's economy depends on agriculture, especially beef and soy, which is grown on cleared land in the Amazon. Today, president Jair Bolsonaro, is weakening the environmental protections there in order to give agriculture more power. This came to a head when, in summer 2019, more than 30,000 wildfires burned in the Amazon, sparking worldwide outrage.

Here are some sources I found particularly helpful while reporting for this story:

Nepstad, et al. 2014
Umair Irfan, Vox:
The Intercept:

Vox Atlas demonstrates where conflicts occur on a map and the ways in which foreign policy shapes a region. Watch all the episodes here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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