Someone alert Sting. The Brazilian rain forest isn't disappearing as quickly as environmentalists claim. Environmentalists say vast tracts of the rain forest have been cut down in the last two decades to make room for new farms and villages. They estimate 598,921 square kilometers of rain forest (an area about the size of California and Nebraska put together) have been lost—based on 1978 photos from the Landsat satellite, together with plenty of guesses about the expansion of agriculture, cattle ranching, logging, and urban areas.
But the latest photos from Landsat show that these guesses were wildly wrong. The damaged area actually adds up to 251,429 square kilometers—a sizable amount of land but only 40 percent of the figure claimed by environmentalists.