Environment

Statistic of the decade: The massive deforestation of the Amazon

Aerial view of deforested area of the Amazon rainforest
Aerial view of deforested area of the Amazon rainforest. Photo: Paralaxis/Shutterstock

This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Decade. Much like the 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 December 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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