This Week in STEM – May 10, 2019

This Week in STEM – May 10, 2019

Blog Contributed by Dr. Christopher Murphy, Chief Strategic Growth & Communications Officer for Concept Schools, @DrChrisMurphy

One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns

National Geographic

A landmark global assessment warns that the window is closing to safeguard biodiversity and a healthy planet. Yet solutions are in sight.

The bonds that hold nature together may be at risk of unraveling from deforestation, overfishing, development, and other human activities, a landmark United Nations report warns. Thanks to human pressures, one million species may be pushed to extinction in the next few years, with serious consequences for human beings as well as the rest of life on Earth.

“The evidence is crystal clear: Nature is in trouble. Therefore we are in trouble,” said Sandra Díaz, one of the co-chairs of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. A 40-page “Summary for Policy Makers” of the forthcoming full report (expected to exceed 1,500 pages) was released May 6 in Paris.

Based on a review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources and compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries, the global report is the first comprehensive look in 15 years at the state of the planet’s biodiversity. This report includes, for the first time, indigenous and local knowledge as well as scientific studies. The authors say they found overwhelming evidence that human activities are behind nature’s decline. They ranked the major drivers of species decline as land conversion, including deforestation; overfishing; bush meat hunting and poaching; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species.

Offshore Wind in California: Advancements on the North Coast

National Resource Defense Council

California, that state of iconic ocean wildlife and technological innovation, has a chance to chart yet another groundbreaking course. With support from local communities, developers, environmental groups, and former Governor Jerry Brown, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is taking steps toward a lease sale for offshore wind development. Reflective of that momentum, this Friday, May 3, California State Senator Mike McGuire, chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, will host a hearing titled, California’s Fisheries and Wildlife: Can they co-exist with Offshore Wind Energy Development? The hearing will take place in Eureka, the area of the Golden State many consider to be best positioned for the first floating offshore wind development in California.

Federal and state agencies have the opportunity to blend California’s leadership on climate action and marine protections to create yet another shining example of smart ocean policy and energy innovation. The result—floating offshore wind energy—could be an enormous contributor to reaching California’s zero carbon energy targets, if we get it right.

Lake Michigan’s deadly ‘freak wave’ of 1954 is Chicago folklore. Turns out it was a meteotsunami. And they happen pretty often.

The Chicago Tribune

On a Saturday in June 1954, Marvin Katz motored his cabin cruiser onto Lake Michigan for what was supposed to be a pleasant day of fishing.

However, when his father became seasick, Katz headed back to shore to let him off and settled for dropping anchor near Chicago’s Montrose Harbor, where dozens of people, mostly fishermen, gathered on a lakefront breakwater.

Waiting for his first nibble of the morning, Katz remembers feeling the boat lightly rock. Then he looked toward shore and saw the breakwater had nearly been wiped clean: Some people were clinging to the rocks, others were floundering in the mouth of the harbor amid an entanglement of fishing rods and bait boxes.

“It just happened so fast. The water rose in seconds,” Katz, an 87-year-old Wilmette resident, recalled nearly 65 years later. “It was like an elevator was pushing it up. We looked up and realized all these people were in the water drowning and there was no one to help.”