TFK Top Stories
Global wildlife populations fell by 58% between 1970 and 2012, according the latest Living Planet Report. The report, published on Wednesday by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says that if this trend continues, the world could lose more than two-thirds of vertebrates, or animals with backbones, by 2020. The study analyzed data on more than 14,200 populations across 3,700 species of mammals, fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles. Figures suggest that animals living in lakes, rivers, and wetlands are experiencing the greatest losses.
The report says that rising human populations, habitat loss, hunting, and climate change are among the causes for the rapid decline of wildlife populations. “Wildlife is disappearing within our lifetimes at an unprecedented rate,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in the report. “We are entering a new era in Earth’s history… An era in which humans rather than natural forces are the primary drivers of planetary change.”
On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated during a ceremony overseen by President Grover Cleveland. The celebration included New York City’s first ticker-tape parade. The 350-foot statue was initially called Liberty Enlightening the World. It was meant as a gift from France to the United States to celebrate the country’s independence. In the 20th century, the statue represented hope and served as a symbol of welcome to the many immigrants who passed through nearby Ellis Island. It was an icon of patriotism during World Wars I and II. Through the years, the Statue of Liberty has continued to stand for freedom in the U.S., becoming, as TIME described in 2009, “a fixture of New York City and symbol for the nation.”
Soon, the 4.3 million people who visit the statue each year will be able to experience even more of Lady Liberty’s history. A new $70 million museum is planned for Liberty Island, where the statue is located. The museum will include exhibits and artifacts that focus on the statue’s original concept, design, and construction, as well as its 1986 centennial restoration. The statue’s original torch, which was replaced in the 1980s, will be one of the displays. "It is my hope that the Statue of Liberty and her incredible story will live on and on, inspiring generations for years to come," said Diane von Furstenberg, chair of the fundraising campaign for the project. The museum is expected to open to the public in 2019.
Fourth- and eighth-graders are showing some progress in science, according to the results of a national test released on Thursday. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), sometimes called The Nation’s Report Card, enables teachers and researchers to track student achievements in subjects including science, math, reading, and U.S. history. The tests are given every two years in math and reading, and less frequently in science and other subjects. In the science test given last year, results were flat among seniors, or students in twelfth grade. At that grade level, there was also no change in performance gaps in the areas of race, ethnicity, and gender. But fourth- and eighth-grade levels are up four points since 2009, and large racial achievement gaps in those grades have narrowed slightly. The results also showed that girls improved faster than boys. The gender gap narrowed in eighth grade and was erased at the fourth-grade level. U.S. Secretary of Education John King said the results are encouraging. "We're seeing racial achievement gaps in the sciences narrowing in the fourth and eighth grades ... and the gender gaps also are closing,” he said in a press call. "All of this means that more students are developing skills like thinking critically, making sense of information, and evaluating evidence.”