Hard Numbers: Take your 3,000 tons of trash back!

65: Africa contains 65 percent of the world's arable land, but bad roads, unreliable water supplies, and other complications force African countries to spend $35 billion per year to import food.

3,000: Malaysia plans to return 3,000 tons of plastic trash to the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, to protest improper labeling of garbage exported for recycling. Malaysian officials say much of the plastic the country receives is contaminated and can't be recycled.

130,000: It's been awhile since the Venezuelan government published stats on the country's economic crisis, but this week its central bank acknowledged that the country's inflation rate hit 130,000 percent last year. That's considerably lower than the 10 million percent the IMF has forecast for this year, but it's clear that the meltdown continues.

1: In March, Mexico passed China to become the world's number one exporter to the United States for the very first time. The value of Mexican imports to the US has surpassed those from China as a direct result of the US-China trade war.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

More Show less

The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

More Show less

Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.

3: The US has recruited Australia to join its nascent mission of protecting ships in the critical Strait of Hormuz. Along with Britain and Bahrain, Australia is now the third country to join the US-led maritime mission, as high seas brinksmanship with the Iranians continues.

More Show less