If a watched pot never boils, an unwatched forest is certain to burn. Researchers recently suggested that two fifths of the Amazon jungle is in danger of being deforested (requires subscription) by 2050, and the pace of forest clearance jumped in the closing months of last year. It's often fire—frequently an intentionally set fire—that delivers the first blow to an endangered patch of the jungle.
In the latest turn of events, the Brazilian government has announced a plan to increase monitoring of the Amazon, at least in part by deploying more police, in order to curtail illegal logging. That sounds great, but there will be obstacles. Early last year, U.S. News published a book excerpt that outlined some challenges facing Brazil as the country attempts to safeguard the Amazon and simultaneously exploit its tremendous natural resources. As that report indicated, decision makers in key parts of Brazil condone development of the Amazon—including the conversion of rain forest to pasture and cropland.