Friday, May 18, 2007

On May 18, ...

...2007 (today), is the 1st-ever Endangered Species Day, observed at zoos, aquariums, and elsewhere. Another way to honor the day:
Take a look at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, better known as CITES, which entered into force in 1975 and now has 171 states parties (including the United States). Have a read of "Restoring Endangered Species: The Importance of Being Wild" by our colleague Holly Doremus. Then ponder how to improve efforts to prevent habitat loss, trafficking, and other threats to our world's precious living resources.
... 1953, pilot Jackie Cochran, who'd organized the 1st U.S. women's military flight support unit during World War II, flew at a speed of 447.47 mph to become the 1st woman to break the sound barrier.
... 1991, having responded to a Help Wanted ad, cosmonaut Helen Sharman became the 1st Briton in outer space when she and 2 men were launched in a Soyuz craft. Sharman's feat took place 8 years after Sally Ride became the 1st American woman in space -- and more than 30 years after American women 1st trained for that job. As detailed in Martha Ackmann's "The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight," Jerrie Cobb (below) and her 12 comrades matched their male counterparts in fitness and performance. Yet in 1962 -- just 1 year before the 1st woman cosmonaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, entered space -- the 13 were rejected by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The physician who tested them distilled to 1 word the reason NASA deemed the women unsuitable:
"Ovaries. The world just wasn't ready at that time."

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