Despite reports of localized deforestation and violence against rainforest activists, a study on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon found that the number of square kilometers disappearing each year has hit a record low.
But politics has a way of screwing up progress like this, and Brazilian politicians are voting today to weaken the forest code that contributed to the deforestation decline. Man! These guys might as well be American politicians.
Nature reports that agricultural interests have backed the legislation, since trees do tend to get in the way of farming. But so does civilizational collapse, and as researchers have discovered, deforestation in Central American suppressed rainfall, scared up droughts, and contributed to the collapse of the Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec empires. Wonder what monumental structures we'll leave behind for the aliens from Kepler-22b to puzzle over when they come to Earth seeking evidence of extrakeplerian existence.
Hotter, drier, meaner: Trends point to a planet increasingly hostile to agriculture, The Daily Climate.