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The Big Take

The Amazon Is Fast Approaching a Point of No Return

Brazil’s rainforest is being stolen and cleared at an accelerating pace, and the Bolsonaro government is fanning the flames.

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Former jungle in Rondônia state.

Former jungle in Rondônia state.

Photographer: Larissa Zaidan for Bloomberg Businessweek

(This story was originally published on July 29. This week, one hundred countries, representing 85% of the world’s forests, pledged at the COP26 summit to end deforestation.)

In April, lawmakers in the Brazilian state of Rondônia gathered for a hasty vote in a squat cube of a building that had sat largely empty for months. Few places on Earth had been hit harder by Covid-19 than Porto Velho, the concrete capital city, which, like everything else in the region, has been carved out of the Amazon rainforest. But on that rainy afternoon, while the city was in lockdown, the legislators felt they couldn’t wait any longer.