‘Real and imminent’ extinction risk to whales

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Humpback whale
A humpback whale jumps to the surface of the Pacific Ocean

More than 350 scientists and conservationists from 40 countries have signed a letter calling for global action to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction.

They say more than half of all species are of conservation concern, with two on the “knife-edge” of extinction.

Lack of action over polluted and over-exploited seas means that many will be declared extinct within our lifetimes, the letter says.

Even large iconic whales are not safe.

“Let this be a historic moment when realising that whales are in danger sparks a powerful wave of action from everyone: regulators, scientists, politicians and the public to save our oceans,” said Mark Simmonds.

The visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol, UK, and senior marine scientist with Humane Society International, has coordinated the letter, which has been signed by experts across the world.

Growing threats

“Save the whales” was a familiar green slogan in the 1970s and 1980s, part of a movement that helped bring an end to commercial whaling.

While stricken populations in most parts of the world have had a chance to recover from organised hunting, they are now facing myriad threats from human actions, including plastic pollution, loss of habitat and prey, climate change and collisions with ships.

By far the biggest threat is becoming accidently captured in fishing equipment and nets, which kills an estimated 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises a year.

Rally in Mexico to draw attention to the vaquita
Rally in Mexico to draw attention to the vaquita

Hundreds of scientists have expressed the same concern – that we are moving closer to a number of preventable extinctions. And unless we act now, future generations will be denied the chance to experience these intelligent social and inspiring creatures.

They point to the decline of the North Atlantic right


New Asteroid With Non-Zero Earth Impact Probability Added To ESA Risk List

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  • The ESA has included a new asteroid (2020 OB) in its Risk List
  • 2020 OB has a non-zero impact probability with Earth and is set to make its next close approach on 2051
  • A new “minimoon” has entered Earth’s orbit and will stay until April 2021

The European Space Agency has included a new asteroid to its Risk List, a catalogue of space objects with a non-zero impact probability with Earth has been detected.

The object, known as 2020 OB, was discovered back in July and scored only a moderate value in the Palermo scale — a scale that enables Near-Earth Object specialists to categorize and prioritize potential impact risks on Earth. However, the addition of more thorough observations made in September has resulted to 2020 OB increasing its risk rating, now taking the fourth spot on ESA’s Risk List. 

According to ESA’s data, the predicted impact date — should it ever hit Earth — will be on July 23, 2116 at 5:35 a.m. EDT. It has an approximate diameter of 60 meters or 196 feet. This height is about half as tall as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. This asteroid is also classified as an Apollo asteroid, due to its Earth-crossing orbit. It is set to make its next close approach to Earth on July 30, 2051. 

It is, however, common for asteroids to be added and then removed from the list following more research. The non-zero impact probability ratings also do not guarantee collision with Earth.

NASA Orbits of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids PHA This graphic shows the orbits of all the known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids PHAs, numbering over 1,400 as of early 2013. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In other news, the Pan-STARRS 1 Telescope in Hawaii has recently discovered a new NEO with an orbit similar to the Earth’s. The object, now called


Integrity of ‘The 1619 Project,’ America’s education system at risk with election

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OPINION: Trump’s latest campaign demonstrates the racial blindness of the administration and serves as a preview of what we can expect from four more years

Here is the truth, African Americans built this country for free. 

Yes, I said it. The horrors of the American slave trade contributed to America’s current economic success, military might, and role in shaping global culture. Sadly, these truths have not been part of the curriculum taught in America’s public schools. What students got instead was a whitewashed “history” that downplayed the enslavement and commoditization of Black bodies. 

Read More: Trump attacks ‘1619 Project,’ will sign executive order for ‘1776 Commission’

For the nation’s students, this culturally watered-down history of enslavement has actually done more harm than good. Instead of telling historical truth, our students were subjected to storylines about enslaved people being treated well, and the connection between America’s greatness and Western European enlightenment. 

Well, that was until parents, students, community members and educators raised their voices and forced school districts to teach our young people the truth. 

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the south lawn of the White House Thursday en route to Bedminster, New Jersey for a roundtable event with supporters and a fundraiser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the south lawn of the White House Thursday en route to Bedminster, New Jersey for a roundtable event with supporters and a fundraiser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Truth-telling has drastically changed how our students learn American history. After years of campaigning, students are receiving the fullness of the American story! One of the most recent contributions to this education agenda was The 1619 Project — an ongoing initiative of The New York Times Magazine that started in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of American slavery’s beginning. The 1619 Project bursted onto the scene with an invite to serious dialogue about slavery, race and racism.

Once President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos caught wind of the