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Significant Digits For Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

84 percent increase

According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the number of fires in the country’s Amazon rainforest this year has increased 84 percent from the same time a year before. The agency said it detected more than 74,000 fires between January and August, the most since the data began in 2013. Conservationists place blame at the feet of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who, they say, “has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.” [BBC]

$1 trillion

The U.S. federal deficit is forecasted to reach $1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. That debt has been increasing following a $1.5 trillion tax cut and a budget deal that increases government spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. “The nation’s fiscal outlook is challenging,” the director of the CBO said. [CNN]

11,000 birds

Earlier this month, some 11,000 birds — waterfowl and wetlands birds — were killed or maimed during a hailstorm near Billings, Montana. That’s about a quarter of the birds in the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area, according to a biologist’s estimate. The storm brought “an unusual August episode of three-inch hail and winds gusting up to 74 mph.” [The Washington Post]

800 contestants

More than 800 contestants assembled in Kyoto this month for an abacus (or soroban, in Japanese) competition. Some 43,000 Japanese students take advances lessons in the centuries-old calculating device, according to government estimates. One winner at the competition broke his own Guinness World Record by adding — in his head, imagining an abacus’s beads — 15 three-digit numbers in 1.64 seconds. [The New York Times]

4-0 vote

By a unanimous 4-0 vote, the commissioners of rural Lincoln County, Nevada, declared a state of emergency. The looming threat? A joke Facebook event called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” to which more than 2 million people have RSVPed, some of whom might actually show up in the desert, hoping to raid the military site in the hopes of finding extraterrestrial life. “We have no pickin’ idea what we’re going to face — if anything,” said one commissioner. [USA Today]

4 hitters, 40 homers

Four hitters — Pete Alonso, Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger — have already joined the 40-home-run club this season, and their teams have only played 125 games. It’s the first time that’s happened since the juicy days of 2001 when Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Luis Gonzalez and Jim Thome did it. “Total home runs are on pace to shatter the MLB record this season, and three of the top four seasons by total home runs have come in the past four years,” my colleague Travis Sawchik writes. [FiveThirtyEight]

From ABC News:

SigDigs: Aug. 22, 2019

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Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.