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The latest news on Environment from Business Insider

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    documerica nyc

    New York City produces twice as much trash as any other mega-city on Earth, according to a recent study. The Environmental Protection Agency has described Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal as "one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies." And air pollution, coming largely from transportation and construction, remains a threat to residents.

    But before the EPA formed in 1970, pollution in NYC was even worse.

    Soon after the EPA's founding, the agency dispatched 100 photographers to capture America's environmental problems in a photo project called Documerica. It shows what the US, from California to Ohio to New York, looked like from 1971 to 1977. Of the 81,000 images the photographers took, more than 20,000 photos were archived, and at least 15,000 have been digitized by the National Archives.

    Many of the photos were taken before the US regulated things like water and air pollution.

    The Trump administration has already rolled back a number of environmental regulations and moved toward delaying the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prevent industries from dumping pollutants into waterways and wetlands. And last fall, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the Trump administration plans to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's biggest initiative to fight climate change by curbing emissions.

    Many reports suggest that Pruitt aims to kill environmental protections and dismantle much of the regulatory agency. If he succeeds, parts of the US could return to the state they were in before EPA regulations.

    On Earth Day, let's take a look at a selection of New York City Documerica photos that were taken between 1973 and 1974.

    SEE ALSO: Photos show how California's fires gave Disneyland an apocalyptic glow

    Many Documerica photos show scenes of general life in New York City in the 1970s, but several also document environmental issues.

    In the first six months of 1973, more than 300 oil spills occurred in the New York City area. An oil slick creeps up on the Statue of Liberty in this 1973 photo.

    More than 800 oil spills happened in the mid-Atlantic region during the same time period, according to a 1973 Coast Guard survey.

    Source: The New York Times

    Air pollution was also a huge issue in the city. As seen in this 1973 photo, smog obscures the George Washington Bridge.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    100th meridian west longitude united states climate change desert global warming

    • The '100th meridian west' is an invisible line of longitude that roughly bisects the United States' in half, separating the humid eastern states from the arid western states.
    • Since the 1980s, this climate boundary has been shifting further from the geographical line of longitude, as dry conditions creep into states that have historically been on the more fertile eastern side.
    • While the shift hasn't significantly impacted farming in central US yet, scientists believe it will only be a matter of time before flourishing plains become deserts.

    One of the fundamental climate constants that has helped define and divide the United States for centuries is shifting in response to global warming, according to new research.

    The 100th meridian west — the invisible line of longitude that roughly bisects the continental US in half — was historically seen as a boundary separating the humid eastern states from their arid western counterparts.

    But thanks to climate change, the world is not what it once was, and neither is this intangible barrier.

    According to a new analysis of rainfall and temperature data by climate scientist Richard Seager from Columbia University, the climate boundary that once traced the 100th meridian has effectively been shifting eastwards ever since the 1980s, with the arid conditions of the western plains slowly expanding into the midwest.

    While the meridian itself — which continues beyond US borders, northwards into Canada, and southwards into Mexico — is in the same place as always, the climate barrier that used to sit on top of it has moved approximately 225 kilometres (140 miles) to the east, Seager says, placing it closer to the 98th meridian west.

    So far, this shift hasn't significantly affected farming and land use as the dryer conditions move across the US.

    But the team's modeling suggests altered precipitation and rising temperatures as the century progresses will see the "effective 100th meridian" continue its shift eastward for decades to come, as arid conditions slowly colonize the east.

    "There will need to be a farm economy adjustment to this because of the environmental changes," Seager told Quartz.

    "The places over the western parts of the high plains will become more arid."

    Specifically, the researchers suggest that as aridity increases thanks to rising evapotranspiration — where heat extracts moisture from the soil and removes it to the atmosphere — farms may need to consolidate and become larger to survive, or change their crops in response to reduced water resources.

    "A farmer who was considering passing on her or his farm to their children over the next decade or two should be considering these kind of climate or environment changes," Seager told KUER.

    "There has to be some kind of adjustment. They can't just carry on doing exactly what they're doing right now because of this encroaching aridity. "

    In effect, unless we can turn our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels around, the researchers think the eastern US will progressively witness the climate contrasts first observed by American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell back in the late 19th century.

    Back then, he noted the environmental transitions that marked either side of this invisible — but not immobilized — divider.

    "Passing from east to west across this belt a wonderful transformation is observed. On the east a luxuriant growth of grass is seen, and the gaudy flowers of the order Compositae make the prairie landscape beautiful," he wrote in 1890.

    "Passing westward, species after species of luxuriant grass and brilliant flowering plants disappear; the ground gradually becomes naked, with bunch grasses here and there; now and then a thorny cactus is seen, and the yucca plant thrusts out its sharp bayonets."

    The two-part study is published here and here in Earth Interactions.

    SEE ALSO: Disturbing before-and-after images show what major US cities could look like in the year 2100

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How all-you-can-eat restaurants don't go bankrupt

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    Earth Day is one of the world's largest celebrations of our environment. 

    To commemorate the holiday, National Geographic is debuting a "Symphony for our World": a television event that will pair a slideshow of National Geographic's stunning wildlife photography with a five-part symphony.

    The music is created by Bleeding Fingers Music and performed by a full orchestra and choir. The symphony-and-photo pairing will air on National Geographic Wild on Sunday, April 22 at 7 p.m. EST.

    A touring, 90-minute live symphony event with projections of the photos will also debut in San Francisco, California on April 22 (Earth Day), then tour around the US and Canada.

    Below are some of the most spectacular wildlife images from "Symphony for our World," which were previously unreleased from National Geographic's archive.

    SEE ALSO: Soak in the beauty and fragility of our dynamic planet with these stunning photos

    The live symphony performances will take place in cities around the US and Canada. After starting in San Francisco on Sunday, the event will then travel to Austin, Texas in July.

    The music and images are divided into five parts that correspond with different ecosystems: the sea, coastlines, land, mountains, and sky.

    Images from each of those environments will be accompanied by a different chapter of music that's tailored to the ecosystem.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Miami king tide flooding

    Sea level rise is threatening coastal cities around the world.

    If you live in a city like Miami, New York City, or Charleston, the evidence is apparent if you head to the right neighborhood during high tides — especially those known as king tides. These are the highest tides of the year, and they coincide with full moons during spring and fall.

    King tides themselves aren't caused by sea level rise, but as the highest tides of the year, they show how sea level has already risen over the past century — the neighborhoods they flood on sunny days now didn't flood like this decades ago, even during high tides.

    More importantly, high and king tides are a preview of what's to come as seas continue to rise. What happens during particularly high tides now will happen on a regular basis in the future.

    As sea level rises, waters come back up through storm drains and wash over barricades. They flood houses and roads. And in many cases, they may be full of bacteria and potential pathogens.

    Most cities recognize the situation at this point and are doing everything they can to try to beat back the rising tides. But seas will continue to rise as warmer oceans expand and glaciers melt. It's likely that neighborhoods and even some cities will be uninhabitable far sooner than many think.

    SEE ALSO: Miami is racing against time to keep up with sea-level rise

    Annapolis, Maryland: Sea level is rising faster along the East Coast than in many places. In Annapolis, tides can cause the Chesapeake Bay to flood the city.

    Seattle, Washington: King tides sometimes cause Puget Sound to rise to discomforting levels in Seattle, as is shown here in 2011.

    Miami, Florida: Miami and other cities in Florida are experiencing some of the most severe sea level rise and tidal flooding.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • This Earth Day, we take a look back at how bad things used to be.
    • Before the Environmental Protection Agency started regulating what we polluted into the nation's air, water, and land, things were dire. These photos show how bad it was.
    • Luckily, we've made immeasurable progress since then. But there's still a lot of work to do.

    As the story goes, on June 22, 1969, the chemical-filled Cuyahoga River in Cleveland burst into flames, possibly ignited by a spark from a passing train.

    That had happened at least dozen times before on the Cuyahoga. Additional fires were known to blaze up on rivers in Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, and in other cities.

    River fires were far from the only environmental disasters in the US at the time. A spill from an offshore oil rig in California coated the coast in oil and pollutants. Smog and car exhaust choked cities around the country.

    In the late 60s, Americans were growing more aware of the fact that unregulated pollution and chemical use were endangering the country and the people in it. People were ready for a change. 

    In his 1970 State of the Union address, President Richard Nixon said: "We still think of air as free. But clean air is not free, and neither is clean water. The price tag on pollution control is high. Through our years of past carelessness we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called."

    Nixon followed that up with a list of requests to Congress and later that year announced the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

    Soon after it was founded, the EPA began a photo project called Documerica that captured more than 81,000 images showing what the US looked like from 1971 to 1977. More than 20,000 photos were archived, and at least 15,000 have been digitized by the National Archives.

    The EPA's role since then has varied from administration to administration. Right now, administrator Scott Pruitt is working to roll back a number of rules that were previously put in place to protect air and water. Pruitt has announced plans to kill the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's main initiative to fight climate change by lowering emissions.

    Under Pruitt, the EPA has also reversed a ban on a pesticide that can harm children's brains and moved to rescind the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prohibit industries from dumping pollutants into streams and wetlands.

    Many reports suggest that Pruitt's primary aim is to eliminate most environmental protections and dismantle parts of the regulatory agency.

    But as a reminder of what the US looked like before many of the EPA's policies were in place, here's a selection of the Documerica photos from the 1970s.

    SEE ALSO: Half of the Great Barrier Reef has died since 2016 — here's what happens if all coral reefs on Earth die off

    Many of these photos show life in America at the time, but several also document concerning environmental issues.

    Smog, seen here obscuring the George Washington Bridge in New York, was a far bigger problem.

    Smog was common, as this shot of Louisville and the Ohio River from 1972 shows.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    LeeAnne flint water

    • Flint, Michigan resident LeeAnne Walters is a 2018 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots activism. 
    • Walters tested her own drinking water in Flint and found it was more potent than toxic waste.
    • Walters says her children still have hand-eye coordination issues and speech impairment as a result of the lead poisoning.

    Leanne Walters didn't know why her eyelashes were falling out and her hair was thinning.

    It was 2014, and her entire family was getting sicker by the day, by the gulp, every time one of them turned on the tap to take a sip of water.

    Walters' three-year-old twins were breaking out in rashes, and her elder daughter's hair was dropping out in clumps. Doctors couldn't figure out why her teenage son was suffering from blurry vision and an enlarged kidney. It didn't make any sense. flint

    But when the tap water started flowing brown in Walter's Flint, Michigan home, she understood something was amiss.

    "Later on we found out about the lead," Walters said. "All those things coincide with lead exposure."

    Walters is a 2018 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize. She's one of six people around the world chosen for their grassroots environmental activism, and awarded a cash prize of about $175,000 .

    The award is all for what she did next.

    Walters took action, learning everything she could about what lead poisoning does to your body. After conducting her own testing, she found that the lead levels in her home — which is fitted exclusively with plastic piping — were so high that what the Walters' were drinking up every day qualified as hazardous waste.

    Once Walters started speaking with neighbors, she knew she wasn't alone. The city wasn't telling the whole story about the water supply.

    "We were told they were winter-izing the system, and that's what caused it," Walters said. "We were like yeah, no, something's not right here, this has never happened in three years."

    That's when she enlisted the help of Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards to start city-wide tap testing for lead.

    "Here's a professor, he's willing to get us test kits," Walters remembered thinking. "If we're willing to bust our asses and get this done, and prove that this is city-wide."

    Together, Walters, her neighbors, and the Virginia Tech team collected more then 800 independent water samples from homes around town in Flint. The simple water bottle kits that people put under their taps to test how high the lead levels were helped prove that the city water supply was tainted with dangerously-high levels of lead.

    Walters isn't done testing yet. "I want people to be aware this isn't just a Flint problem," she said.

    She's worried about levels of toxic lead around the country, and has been getting letters and Facebook messages from concerned water-drinkers in states including New Jersey, Texas and California.

    Walters is now gearing up to do independent, tamper-proof, and citizen-driven testing on taps around the US. She believes there are too many loopholes allowed in how many cities test their water to make sure it's safe to drink. She wants to change the way the US Environmental Protection Agency writes its lead and copper rule, so that cities can't skirt testing by toying with the water that's coming out of the tap. 

    LeeAnne walters

    "There's no reason for children to ever be poisoned by their water," she says.

    Her twins, now seven years old, are still dealing with the effects of drinking bad water. They attend speech and occupational therapy for hand-eye coordination issues and speech impairments. Walters says her own eyelashes did eventually grow back, but they're shorter than they've ever been, and the hair on the crown of her head is still "super thin." 

    Sometimes her kids will get frustrated trying to do things and tell her, "Mommy, I can't do it, I have lead poisoning."

    "I'm like, no!" Walters said. "It's more of a challenge for you, but you're going to do it."

    SEE ALSO: These are the US states where people live the longest, healthiest lives — and the shortest

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Flint school principal says special education caseload doubled since the water crisis

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    San Francisco

    More than 133.9 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association's 2018 "State of the Air" report. That figure is a 9 million person increase from last year's report.

    Pollution leads to various kinds of nasty health outcomes, including asthma, lung cancer, and shortened lifespans.

    The new report rounds up air quality data from 2014 to 2016 in the United States. (Because air quality data is plentiful and complicated, the annual ALA reports look two years into the past.)

    The report focuses on two key kinds of pollution: particles and ozone.

    Particles include everything from dust kicked up during a drought to tiny particles floating in the air from forest fires or fossil fuels. Ozone, or smog, develops in the upper atmosphere when emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks cook in the sun's heat.

    Local pollution levels can be measured according to amounts of ozone in the atmosphere, number of days with extremely high particle pollution levels, or levels of year-round particle pollution. Each of those metrics yields different results. Los Angeles is the worst US city for ozone, for example, but not when it comes to year-round particle pollution, which is the ranking we use in this article.

    Janice Nolen, the lead author of the ALA report, told Business Insider last year that local problems like car traffic can make cities' ozone or particle problems worse, but that the overall issue is a national one. Even a place with strong environmental rules can be vulnerable to bad air flowing in from other parts of the country.

    Here are the US metros with the worst year-round particle pollution. (The report notes that data is missing on all of Illinois and Mississippi, as well as two large counties in California.) 

    SEE ALSO: A powerful new tool reveals how climate change could transform your hometown

    24 (tied). Little Rock-North Little Rock, Arkansas

    24 (tied). Las Vegas-Henderson, Nevada-Arizona

    22 (tied). Atlanta-Athens-Clarke County-Sandy Springs, Georgia

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    deep impact tsunami tidal wave

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said Russia was developing a nuclear-powered torpedo that could detonate a "massive"nuclear weapon.
    • Such a device might create a 300-foot tsunami if exploded in the right location and could rain long-lasting radioactive fallout on a coastal target.
    • Experts have described the hypothetical weapon as a "doomsday" device, saying it could spread unprecedented and long-lived radioactive fallout.
    • But one researcher said such a weapon would be "stupid," as it'd greatly limit its damage compared with an airburst.

    During Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, he described a plethora of nuclear weapons he said Russia was developing.

    One of these proposed weapons, an autonomous submarine, stood out among the depictions of falling warheads and nuclear-powered cruise missiles.

    According to a Kremlin translation (PDF) of Putin's remarks, he said the autonomous drone would quietly travel to "great depths," move faster than a submarine or boat, "have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit," and "carry massive nuclear ordnance."

    "It is really fantastic, he said, adding: "There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them."

    He also said Russia finished testing a nuclear-powered engine for the drones in December.

    "Unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications, and infrastructure," he said.

    tsar bomba nuclear blast wikipedia

    Putin did not refer to the device by name in his speech, but it appears to be the Oceanic Multipurpose System Status-6, also known as Kanyon or Putin's "doomsday" machine.

    The Russian government reportedly leaked a diagram of such a weapon in 2015 that suggested it would carry a 50-megaton nuclear bomb about as powerful as Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear device ever detonated.

    Nuclear physicists say such a weapon could cause a local tsunami, though they question its purpose and effectiveness, given the far more terrible destruction that nukes can inflict when detonated aboveground.

    Why Putin's 'doomsday' device could be terrifying

    A nuclear weapon detonated below the ocean's surface could cause great devastation.

    The US's underwater nuclear tests of the 1940s and '50s, including operations Crossroads Baker and Hardtack I Wahoo, demonstrated why.

    These underwater fireballs were roughly as energetic as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki in August 1945. In the tests, they burst through the surface, ejecting pillars of seawater more than a mile high while rippling out powerful shockwaves.

    Some warships staged near the explosions were vaporized. Others were tossed like toys in a bathtub and sank, while a few sustained cracked hulls and crippled engines. Notably, the explosions roughly doubled the height of waves to nearby islands, flooding inland areas.

    "A well-placed nuclear weapon of yield in the range 20 MT to 50 MT near a sea coast could certainly couple enough energy to equal the 2011 tsunami, and perhaps much more," Rex Richardson, a physicist who researches nuclear weapons, told Business Insider, referring to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people in Japan.

    "Taking advantage of the rising-sea-floor amplification effect, tsunami waves reaching 100 meters in height"— about 330 feet — "are possible," Richardson said.

    Richardson and other experts have also pointed out that a near-shore blast from this type of weapon could suck up tons of ocean sediment, irradiate it, and rain it upon nearby areas — generating catastrophic radioactive fallout.

    "Los Angeles or San Diego would be particularly vulnerable to fallout due to the prevailing onshore winds," Richardson said, adding that he lives in San Diego.

    The problem with blowing up nukes underwater

    putin doomsday weapon kanyon satus 6 madnessgenius ccbysa4

    Greg Spriggs, a nuclear-weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said a 50-megaton weapon "could possibly induce a tsunami" and hit a shoreline with the energy equivalent to a 650-kiloton blast.

    But he said it "would be a stupid waste of a perfectly good nuclear weapon."

    That's because Spriggs believes it's unlikely that even the most powerful nuclear bombs could unleash a significant tsunami after detonating underwater.

    "The energy in a large nuclear weapon is but a drop in the bucket compared to the energy of a [naturally] occurring tsunami," Spriggs previously told Business Insider. "So any tsunami created by a nuclear weapon couldn't be very large."

    For example, the 2011 tsunami in Japan released about 9.3 million megatons of TNT energy. That's hundreds of millions of times as much as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 and roughly 163,000 times as much as the Soviet Union's test of Tsar Bomba on October 30, 1961.

    Plus, Spriggs said, the energy of a blast wouldn't all be directed toward shore — it would radiate outward in all directions, so most of it "would be wasted going back out to sea."

    A detonation several miles from a coastline would deposit only about 1% of its energy as waves hitting the shore. That scenario may be more likely than an attack closer to the shore, assuming US systems could detect an incoming Status-6 torpedo.

    But even if such a weapon were on the doorstep of a coastal city or base, its purpose would be questionable, Spriggs said.

    "This would produce a fraction of the damage the same 50 MT weapon could do if it were detonated above a large city," Spriggs said. "If there is some country out there that is angry enough at the United States to use a nuclear weapon against us, why would they opt to reduce the amount of damage they impose in an attack?"

    Is the doomsday weapon real?

    valdimir putin russia icbm missile election speech march 1 2018 reuters sputnik news agency RTX4ZS89

    Putin fell short of confirming the existence of Status-6, though he did say the December tests of its power unit "enabled us to begin developing a new type of strategic weapon" to carry a huge nuclear bomb.

    The Trump administration even addressed the possible existence of the weapon in its most recent nuclear posture review.

    In a 2015 article in Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, dubbed the weapon "Putin's doomsday machine."

    He wrote that there was speculation that the underwater weapon might be "salted," or surrounded with metals like cobalt, which would dramatically extend fatal radiation levels from fallout— possibly for years or even decades — since the burst of neutrons emitted in a nuclear blast could transform those metals into long-lived, highly radioactive chemicals sprinkled all over.

    "What sort of sick bastards dream up this kind of weapon?" Lewis wrote, noting that such salted weapons were featured in the 1964 science-fiction Cold War parody film"Dr. Strangelove."

    To Lewis, it doesn't necessarily matter whether Status-6 is real or a psychological bluff designed to prevent the US from attacking Russia or its allies.

    "Simply announcing to the world that you find this to be a reasonable approach to deterrence should be enough to mark you out as a dangerous creep," he said.

    SEE ALSO: People are stockpiling iodine pills to guard against nuclear fallout — but they won't stop 99.8% of radioactive exposure

    DON'T MISS: Trump appointing John Bolton is a 'national security emergency,' one expert says — here's why

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how easy it is for the US president to launch a nuclear weapon

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    antarctica Mertz Glacier pulse

    • Warm waters are pooling underneath Antarctic glaciers in a way that's causing glaciers to melt more rapidly and preventing the formation of cool water beneath Antarctica, according to a new study.
    • This could slow ocean currents and potentially lead to a rapid sea-level rise event known as a pulse.
    • Such an event could be devastating, causing sea levels to rise by more than 10 feet by the end of the century.

    The worst-case climate scenario for coastal cities is known as a "pulse."

    In that situation, abnormally warm water could cause the glaciers that hold back ice sheets on top of Antarctica and Greenland to collapse. That would cause massive quantities of ice to pour into the world's oceans, which could lead to extremely rapid sea-level rise around the world. 

    If such a scenario were to occur, current sea-level rise predictions for vulnerable cities like Miami would be far too low.

    Right now, scientists predict Miami will likely be surrounded by seas up to 7 or 8 feet higher than they were in 1900 by the end of this century. But in the case of a pulse, some experts think South Florida could see 10 to 30 feet of sea-level rise by 2100.

    Models predict that amount of rise could also be accompanied by superstorms.

    Conditions that might mark the start of such a scenario seem to already be underway in Antarctica, according to a recent study published in the journal Science Advances.

    The researchers behind the work found that in at least two Antarctic regions where there's been notable ice loss,  glaciers are melting fast enough to counteract a process that would normally keep the waters under the Antarctic cool. And where warm water collects, faster melting happens.

    "Our study shows that this feedback process is not only possible but is in fact already underway, and may drive further acceleration of the rate of sea-level rise in the future," Alessandro Silvano, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

    Warm water pooling below the ice

    The two areas analyzed in the study were the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica and the Sabrina Coast in East Antarctica. 

    US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star Antarctica

    Normally, holes in Antarctic ice rapidly cool waters around the Antarctic continental shelf, which prevents warm water from melting glaciers. That cooling process creates a type of ocean water known as dense shelf water, which is so cold and dense that it sinks, eventually forming a mass of water called Antarctic bottom water.

    But at the regions the researchers studied, water exposed at the surface is not being cooled and sinking. Instead, warm water is kept warm by rapidly melting glaciers, creating a mass of warm water underneath the ice.

    "This process is similar to what happens when you put oil and water in a container, with the oil floating on top because it's lighter and less dense," Silvano said. "We found that in this way increased glacial meltwater can cause a positive feedback, driving further melt of ice shelves and hence an increase in sea level rise."

    That means warm water is melting glaciers from below.

    From what researchers can tell, a similar melting process may have triggered a sea-level rise of 16 feet at the end of the last glacial period. 

    weddell polynya antarctica sea ice

    A series of concerning events

    The pooling of warm water beneath Antarctic glaciers makes rapid glacier melt more likely, which increases the possibility of ice shelf collapse and rapid sea-level rise.

    At the same time, Antarctic bottom water helps drive the global currents, which enable the ocean to absorb heat and carbon dioxide. A lack of Antarctic bottom water could therefore slow ocean currents, and slower currents are associated with more superstorms, according to the historical record and computer models.

    Global annual temperature and CO2 levels, 1959–2016

    This slowing would also cause warming to happen more rapidly in Earth's atmosphere — further accelerating glacier melt.

    "In combination, the two processes we identified feed off each other to further accelerate climate change," Silvano said.

    As the researchers explain in the study, there's still a lot to learn about this process and its connection to climate change. But they said what we're seeing now is further evidence that stopping the rise of global temperatures is essential.

    The burning of fossil fuels is causing Earth's temperature to creep higher and higher above pre-industrial levels. The higher the temperature gets, the more likely the collapse of ice shelves becomes — as well as the potential pulse that comes with it.

    SEE ALSO: Cities around the US are flooding on sunny days — here's what it's like

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What too much exercise does to your body and brain

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    Times Square New Years Eve trash

    The United States is the third most populous nation on Earth, with about 319 million inhabitants. So it's no surprise the country uses a lot of resources — and makes an incredible amount of waste.

    Americans enjoy practically unlimited access to food, water, energy, and other resources that power a modern society. This makes US residents some of the most resource-intensive human beings on Earth.

    The average person born in the US creates 13 times as much damage to the environment as someone born in Brazil, uses 35 times the resources of a typical person in India, and consumes about 53 times more products than people who live in China, according to Scientific American. Also, the lifestyle of Americans is second only to that of Canadians in generating the most greenhouse gases per person.

    The following five data-driven charts, which Business Insider assembled for Earth Day, help illustrate the disproportionate ecological footprint Americans have on our planet.

    SEE ALSO: 10 gut-wrenching pleas from astronauts to save planet Earth

    DON'T MISS: A forgotten war technology could safely power Earth for millions of years. Here's why we aren't using it

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Bears Ears National Monument

    President Donald Trump announced the reduction of two national monuments in Utah in December.

    Bears Ears was reduced by 85% in the months that followed, in the largest acreage reduction of a national monument to date.

    Trump also cut Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half, following a push led by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

    The reduction to Bears Ears is now the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits filed on behalf of local tribes and conservation groups, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego has even introduced a bill, the Bears Ears National Monument Expansion Act, that would expand the boundaries of Bears Ears back to its original size. 

    Bears Ears, declared a National Monument by former President Barack Obama in 2016, is sacred to the local Navajo tribes and a popular destination for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts.

    Beyond its beautiful sandstone buttes and canyons, Bears Ears holds numerous culturally significant archaeological sites, including ancient Anasazi cliff fortresses and petroglyphs recording thousands of years of history. 

    Decisions about the fate of Bears Ears in court may set the stage for a showdown over who controls public lands and what they are really for. 

    Take a look at the stunning landscapes in the original Bears Ears National Monument: 

    SEE ALSO: Trump is shrinking two national monuments cherished by Native Americans — here are the US presidents who protected the most land

    The Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah protects one of most significant cultural landscapes in the United States, with thousands of archaeological sites and important areas of spiritual significance for the Navajo and other local tribes.

    Bears Ears is named for a pair of buttes that rise over 2,000 feet above the surrounding valley. Many of the Native American tribes in the region held the formations as sacred.


    This is the scenic "Valley of the Gods," boasting wide open spaces and towering sandstone buttes. The area rivals Monument Valley, though it is far less traveled.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    national monuments designated by us presidents_1024

    • President Donald Trump's administration has dramatically reduced the size of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — the largest reduction of protected land to date.
    • Some presidents have made conserving land a priority, while others have opted not to use their power to do so.
    • Here are the presidents who have protected the most land — and the ones who haven't.

    President Donald Trump's administration has shrunk two protected areas in Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

    The size of Bears Ears was reduced by 85% — a loss of 1.1 million acres — and Grand Staircase-Escalante was cut by half.

    The reductions were based on recommendations from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who suggested changes to 10 monuments in September 2017. Various environmental and indigenous groups are now fighting the decision in court. 

    Bears Ears was declared a national monument by former President Barack Obama in 2016. The area is sacred to local Navajo tribes. But Utah Senator Orrin Hatch criticized Obama's decision to protect the area as a "federal land grab."

    Unlike national parks, which are created through Congress, national monuments are designated by US presidents under the Antiquities Act, which gives them the power to set aside public land for conservation. Former President Theodore Roosevelt signed the act into law in 1906 and used it to protect Muir Woods and the Grand Canyon (which has since become a national park), along with 16 other areas. 

    While each monument is subject to its own rules, most don't allow any motorized vehicles and forbid using the land for mining or drilling operations. 

    Trump isn't the first president to shrink a national monument — Eisenhower, Truman, Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge all did so, but their reductions accounted for much less land area than Trump's.

    US courts haven't ruled on whether presidents actually have the power to shrink monuments, so a future legal decision could impact protected lands across the country. 

    Trump has yet to establish any new national monuments, though Zinke has proposed three options: the Civil War-era Camp Nelson in Kentucky, Medgar Evers' home in Mississippi, and a swath of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana.

    Obama, on the other hand, used the Antiquities Act to protect more than 550 million acres throughout his time in office, significantly more than any of his predecessors. His first monument designation came two years into his presidency, on November 1, 2011, when he established a 325-acre park around Fort Monroe in Hampden, Virginia. 

    Here's a ranking of the presidents who protected the most land since the inception of the Antiquities Act:

    SEE ALSO: Here are all the protected lands at risk of shrinking or changing under the Trump administration

    Donald Trump: 0 national monuments

    National monument acreage designated by Trump: 0 acres

    Richard Nixon: 0 national monuments

    National monument acreage designated by Nixon: 0 acres

    Gerald Ford: 0 national monuments

    National monument acreage designated by Ford: 0 acres

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Goldfish may look small and cute in your home, but in the wild, it’s a different story. Releasing them into your local stream or lake is a bad idea. Following is a transcript of the video.

    Right now, Washington state is fighting of an invasion! The culprit? Goldfish. Yup, you heard right.

    Thousands of goldfish have infested the West Medical Lake and are crowding out the native fish population. How did this happen? The Department of Fish and Wildlife thinks a few irresponsible pet owners are to blame. And while the goldfish may have cost the owners a few dollars this mess is going to run cost the state an estimated $150,000 to try to remove these feral fish.

    But this isn't the only place this is happening. Goldfish are invading lakes and streams worldwide, and it’s all our fault.

    If you think you’re doing the goldfish a favor by releasing it, you’re not! Instead, you’re setting the stage for an ecological disaster, which could threaten hundreds of other species. Turns out, goldfish are one of the world’s worst invasive species.

    Goldfish were first selectively bred in China 2,000 years ago for food. By the 14th century, goldfish had been promoted from our meals to our entertainment. It wasn’t long before pet owners helped them spread across the world, eventually reaching North America by the 19th century.

    They may look small and cute in your home, but in the wild, it’s a different story. Given enough time and resources, these little orange monsters will grow into giants, reaching as much as 4 pounds (2 kg), about the size of an American football!

    These big fish are also big eaters. Feeding on plants, insects, crustaceans, and other fish. But they’re not just consuming what other fish rely on to survive, they’re voracious feeding time actually kicks up mud and sediment which can lead to harmful algae blooms that choke the ecosystem.

    If that’s not enough, they also introduce foreign parasites and diseases that wreak havoc on the delicately-balanced ecosystems wherever they go. And they aren’t content to stay in one place. Goldfish are a rapidly-reproducing fish and will migrate across multiple bodies of water. Case in point, when a few were dumped in a local Australian river in the early 2000s they eventually migrated to the Vasse River, where they’re still a major problem today.

    There are similar accounts of goldfish invasions in Epping Forest, London, Alberta, Canada, and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. In fact, invasive fish species accounted for over half of the total fish population in Lake Tahoe Basin. Besides causing fiscal and environmental disasters there are other reasons you should keep that goldfish in its tank.

    For starters, goldfish are smarter than you might think. They have a memory span of at least 3 months which means you can teach them tricks like this. They also can tell the difference between Stravinsky and Bach.

    Can you do that?

    So, consider the wildlife, and think twice before tossing that goldfish away.

    Additional video courtesy Spartan's tricks.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    An employee walks at the control centre of the stopped third reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine April 20, 2018.

    • The Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster occurred on April 26, 1986.
    • One of four nuclear reactors exploded, spreading hundreds of times more radioactive fallout than either nuclear bomb dropped on Japan during World War II.
    • Volunteers sometimes called the "suicide squad" helped prevent a second explosion that may have melted down the entire complex.
    • A full meltdown may have spread fallout across half of Europe.

    It's been 32 years since the Chernobyl disaster, a nuclear reactor meltdown caused by a mix of design flaws and human error.

    The event immediately killed dozens and scarred the lives of tens of thousands of people over the ensuing decades.

    Chernobyl is still considered the worst nuclear accident in history — but it could have been much, much worse, if not for a so-called "suicide squad" of three brave volunteers.

    Build-up to a nightmare

    A general view shows a New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine April 20, 2018.

    In the early hours of April 26, 1986, a test gone awry caused two explosions that took out Chernobyl's Unit 4, killing two workers instantly and 29 more in the next four months. Though the long-term death count is still growing, all estimates are disputed among scientists, government officials, and international bodies.

    Together, the explosions released 400 times as much radioactive fallout as the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

    All fires were extinguished or contained within 6 hours, but few anticipated a second, more dangerous problem would soon appear. In early May, Unit 4's reactor core was still melting down.

    Under the reactor was a huge pool of water — coolant for the power plant. The continuous nuclear reaction, traveling in a smoldering flow of molten radioactive metal, was approaching the water.

    "If that happened it would have triggered a second steam explosion that would have done unimaginable damage and destroyed the entire power station, including the three other reactors," author Andrew Leatherbarrow wrote in an email to Tech Insider.

    Leatherbarrow recently published a book, called "1:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster," that recounts the catastrophe's history on its 30th anniversary.

    By most estimates, such a blast may have wiped out half of Europe, leaving it riskier to live in for 500,000 years.

    The apocryphal tale of the Chernobyl 'suicide squad'

    gas masks chernobyl

    In order to prevent the steam explosion, workers needed to drain the pool underneath the reactor. But the basement had flooded, and the valves were underwater.

    The most popular (and likely apocryphal) version of events then goes something like this: One soldier and two plant workers, all volunteers, bravely strapped on wetsuits and clamored into the radioactive water. Even though their lamp died and the crew was left in darkness, they successfully shut off the valves.

    They knew the basement was highly radioactive, but officials promised that if they died, their families would be provided for. It was, indeed, very possibly a suicide mission.

    By the time the team left the pool, this version of the story goes, they were already suffering the effects of acute radiation syndrome (ARS). All of them supposedly died within weeks.

    What really happened

    inside chernobyl

    Leatherbarrow has spent five years researching the disaster. His book gives a slightly different, but no less heroic, version of events.

    "The basement entry, while dangerous, wasn't quite as dramatic as modern myth would have you believe," Leatherbarrow said.

    Firefighters had tried a couple of times to use specialized hoses to drain much of the basement. The three men were, according to Leatherbarrow, all plant workers — no soldiers — who happened to be on-shift when the firefighters' draining procedure stopped.

    They weren't the first in the watery basement, either. Others had entered to measure the radiation levels, though Leatherbarrow said he could never discover who they were, how many had entered, or what their conclusions were.

    "Some water remained after the firemen's draining mission, up to knee-height in most areas, but the route was passable," Leatherbarrow's account reads.

    "The men entered the basement in wetsuits, radioactive water up to their knees, in a corridor stuffed with myriad pipes and valves," he continues, "it was like finding a needle in a haystack."

    The men worried they wouldn't be able to find the valves.

    "When the searchlight beam fell on a pipe, we were joyous," mechanical engineer Alexei Ananenko said in interview with the Soviet press, as quoted by Leatherbarrow. "The pipe led to the valves."

    The men felt their way to the valve in the dark basement. "We heard a rush of water out of the tank," Ananenko went on, "and in a few more minutes we were being embraced by the guys."

    Definitively, Leatherbarrow said, none of the men died of ARS. The shift supervisor died of a heart attack in 2005. (Leatherbarrow attributes this to a mix-up with an employee with the same surname who did succumb to ARS.)

    Where they are now

    creepy chernobyl doll

    As for the other two men, Leatherbarrow said one is still alive and working in the industry, but he hasn't released his name because of privacy concerns. Leatherbarrow said that he lost track of the third man, but that he was alive at least up until 2015.

    Complicating this is the contradictory reports from English media and the Soviet government, which famously tried to downplay the disaster. In addition, Leatherbarrow said the best sources out there have yet to be translated from Russian — including the accounts of senior managers, state-run media reports, and a book by an engineer who's been blamed for the disaster, but insists he was scapegoated by the government.

    Even so, Leatherbarrow added, these men risked their lives to save untold millions of lives during a disaster of unheard of magnitude.

    "They still went into a pitch black, badly damaged basement beneath a molten reactor core that was slowly burning its way down to them," he said.

    Like many of the workers in the hours, months, days, and even years after Chernobyl, their bravery led them to a situation that required unimaginable acts.

    This story has been updated. It was originally published at 2:26 p.m. EDT on April 26, 2016.

    SEE ALSO: 16 people who helped with the Chernobyl cleanup share their devastating first-hand accounts

    MORE: The wreckage of Chernobyl has become a playground for these Russian gamers

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    NOW WATCH: Japan has built a massive ice wall around Fukushima

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    An employee is seen in a pump room of the stopped third reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine April 20, 2018.

    • It's the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Now the site is being developed into a solar farm. 
    • Two companies have a contract to start building a one-megawatt solar farm next month, and they're planning on adding 99 more megawatts in the future.
    • The Ukrainian government is offering incentives for renewable energy companies to develop the abandoned land.

    Thirty-two years ago to the day, a radioactive release 10 times larger than the Hiroshima bomb forced hundreds of thousands of people to permanently evacuate the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Now the abandoned site is about to start generating power again. But instead of nuclear energy, Chernobyl will be home to photovoltaic solar panels, Bloomberg reports.

    Rodina Energy Group, a Ukrainian firm, and Enerparc Ag, a German clean energy company, announced in December the joint development of a $1.2 million project to build a one-megawatt solar farm on the site (enough to power about 200 households), just a few hundred feet from the deactivated reactor. 

    Construction began earlier this year, and the plant will come online in the first half of 2018. 

    The Ukrainian government is incentivizing companies to develop in Chernobyl by offering cheap land and high feed-in tariffs — the amount the companies are paid for feeding electricity into the grid.

    ournalists walk through the corridor of the stopped third reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine April 20, 2018.

    In 2016, the government announced a plan to redevelop 1,000 square miles of abandoned land around Chernobyl. The soil is still too radioactive for farming, but the area is still connected to Ukraine's major population centers with power lines that were laid in the 1970s. That makes the site ideal for renewable energy development.

    The Ukrainian government is paying Rodinia and Enerparc 15 euro cents, or 18 cents, per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, which is almost 40 percent higher than the average cost of solar in Europe, Bloomberg reports.

    The companies, along with other partners, eventually plan to develop up to 99 more megawatts of solar on the site.

    While it's a positive move, that's still a far cry from Chernobyl's electricity output prior to the 1986 disaster. At the time of the accident, Chernobyl had four 1,000-megawatt reactors, with a fifth in the works.

    While Chernobyl and the surrounding towns have sat abandoned, wildlife has flourished in the area. The number of animals there is now higher than it was 32 years ago. 

    SEE ALSO: At least 40% of the world's power will come from renewable sources by 2040 — here are the companies leading the charge

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This swimming robot is exploring a failed nuclear reactor in Fukushima

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    great barrier reef 2

    • Half of the coral reefs that make up Australia's Great Barrier Reef have been killed off by searing heat waves that caused coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.
    • The Australian government is investing $379 million to improve water quality and save reefs.
    • But most experts think that because the plans don't address climate change, they won't be enough.

    The coral reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia are some of the most spectacular and valuable environments on the planet.

    But those reefs are dying. A full half of 3,863 coral reefs in the magnificent ecosystem were wiped out by catastrophic bleaching events caused by searing heat waves in 2016 and 2017.

    To try to stop the destruction before the Great Barrier Reef — the largest, most extensive reef system in the world — is no more, the Australian government has announced that it plans to spend more than half a billion Australian dollars (about $379 million USD) on improving water quality to protect coral reefs; reef restoration; and helping to fight predatory starfish.

    But many experts think that since these initiatives don't fight greenhouse gas emissions or climate change — the root cause of what's killing coral reefs — they won't be enough to save the fragile environment.

    As coral reef researcher Terry Hughes, lead author of a recent study that showed the dire condition of the Great Barrier Reef, said on Twitter, "We're not going to fix the challenge of climate change for coral reefs by killing a few starfish in Queensland."

    Most experts think restoration efforts could play a large role in bringing reefs back from the brink, but if they don't solve the most serious problems reefs face, it could all be for nothing.

    "We're creating a lot of structure that wasn’t there before, but it is by no means a long-term solution," Dalton Hesley, a scientist working on reef restoration in the Caribbean at the University of Miami, told Business Insider for a recent story on coral restoration efforts.

    great barrier reef

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Saving the Great Barrier Reef is essential for Australia. As Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement, the reefs provide at $6.4 billion a year and 64,000 jobs to the Australian economy —  numbers that may underestimate the reefs' value. 

    But the coral reefs off the coast of Australia have been subjected to the same stresses that are damaging coral reefs around the globe.

    Approximately half of the world's coral has died in the past 30 years. At present rates, 60% of all coral reefs are expected to be highly or critically threatened, and 98% of reefs will be exposed to potentially fatal conditions every year.

    It's possible that coral reefs around the world could be mostly wiped out by 2050 or soon after.

    The Great Barrier Reef has been damaged by agricultural runoff from farms and by coral-devouring crown-of-thorns starfish, which liquify coral organisms.

    These are problems the new initiative by the government tries to address, by coming up with ways to get farmers to modify agricultural practices.

    But most of the damage to the Great Barrier Reef comes from the burning of fossil fuels that have warmed the planet. Earth's oceans have absorbed the majority of that heat (about 90% of it so far).

    As waters rapidly warm, corals lose the components that give them color and help them produce food in a process called bleaching. That slows their growth and makes them vulnerable to algae, disease, and death. Increased ocean acidification caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide causes bleaching, too.

    It's these bleaching events that have rapidly wiped out so much of the Great Barrier Reef. The same conditions can be seen in the Caribbean and other sites around the world.

    While the restoration efforts being pursued in Australia, which include plans to help find corals that are resilient to climate stress and efforts to replant coral larvae in some sections, could make a difference, they won't be enough to save the overall structure if waters continue to warm and get more acidic.

    As the Australian Academy of Science said on Twitter, investment in reefs is welcome, but addressing underlying issues is essential.

    The end of reefs?

    The biggest criticism of this major new investment in Australia is that it doesn't address climate change. While it's investing a huge sum of money in the reef, the Australian government is also proposing a new coal mine not far from the Great Barrier Reef.

    great barrier reef satellite

    Even the efforts included in the proposal have been criticized. 

    Jon Brodie, a professor at James Cook University's Coral Reef Studies Centre of Excellence, told Reuters that the money was just a continuation of already-unsuccessful programs.

    "It's not working, it's not achieving major water quality improvements," he said.

    Most reef experts agree that whether we can save reefs depends on when can stabilize climate change. If humans make that happen soon, more reef systems will be able to be preserved. Then — using restoration techniques — they could eventually be restored to some degree.

    But as Hughes and co-authors wrote in the recent Great Barrier Reef study, as it stands, warming will eventually kill reefs and transform oceans.

    "The most likely scenario, therefore, is that coral reefs throughout the tropics will continue to degrade over the current century until climate change stabilizes, allowing remnant populations to reorganize into novel, heat-tolerant reef assemblages," the authors wrote.

    "The large-scale loss of functionally diverse corals is a harbinger of further radical shifts in the condition and dynamics of all ecosystems, reinforcing the need for risk assessment of ecosystem collapse."

    SEE ALSO: The quest to save the fragile reefs Earth's oceans depend on

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: You're probably bending over all wrong — here's the right way to do it

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    Giant Barracuda

    From remote Ugandan waterfalls to the murky waters off the coast of West Africa, ecologist and fisherman Andy Coetzee goes to extreme lengths to catch some of the rarest, most prized fish in the world.

    Coetzee's efforts are the subject of a new three-part television series from the Smithsonian Channel, called "Fishing for Giants." Viewers can watch the fisherman dodge crocodiles and dive deep below the ocean's surface in the hunt for elusive creatures.

    Each of the three episodes revolves around a single species. The first, which debuted April 25, features the Nile perch — the largest freshwater fish in Africa. The second episode airs on Wednesday, May 2 at 8 p.m. and follows Coetzee's pursuit of the aggressive dogtooth tuna. In the final installment on May 9, Coetzee will go after the Guinean barracuda, which boasts 3-inch fangs.  

    But Coetzee doesn't kill the fish for sport or even for food — the creatures he catches get released in places where they have the highest chances of survival.

    Take a peek behind the scenes at some of Andy's most notorious catches: 

    SEE ALSO: Submarine drones are exploring shipwrecks thousands of feet below the Gulf of Mexico — and what they've found is astonishing

    Fishing for Nile perch is a dangerous game. The fish can grow up to 300 pounds and like to congregate in deep pools in front of waterfalls, like the Murchison Falls in Uganda.

    "I was fishing right at the base of the falls in a little aluminum boat, with a little 15-horsepower engine at the back," Coetzee told Business Insider.

    "It was — how would you say — it was, uh, sphincter pucker!" Coetzee said.

    Coetzee and the boat's captain trailed the perch into calmer waters — but that, he said, is where the crocodiles hang out.

     "Crocodiles' main food source is fish," Coetzee said. "And so to a 10-foot, or 12-foot, or even 18-foot crocodile, the Nile Perch is worthwhile eating."

    He described one particular instance in which a crocodile came after a fish he'd hooked.

    "I wasn't going to let that crocodile get the fish — it was me against the crocodile, in a sense," he said. 

    Crocodiles, though menacing, are a good sign that fish might be around.

    "Where crocodiles are hanging out, that's a sign that there's high fish density," Coetzee said. "So it's gotta be a good place to fish."

    Even once Coetzee had hooked a massive Nile perch — which he'd been fighting for hours — he said he was worried a crocodile could still sneak up on him.

    "I've got my back to the water, I'm tired, I'm talking to the camera, what am I supposed to do?" Coetzee said. "I might get bitten, but you know, oh well, you only live once." 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    may day protests

    May Day, celebrated on the first day of May every year, has long been a symbolic day for workers' rights around the world.

    But May Day 2018 turned out to be a day of violent clashes between police and protesters, as both left-wing and right-wing activists took to the streets with fire and fists, from Paris to Istanbul.

    The idea of May 1 as a day for workers' rights was born in the US city of Chicago, where on May 1, 1886 hundreds of thousands of people walked off the job to protest long hours and harsh working conditions. 

    Eight years later, then-president Grover Cleveland moved the original, US version of Labor Day to September, and Americans now celebrate their Monday off as more of a work vacation than a call to action.

    But 66 other countries around the world still celebrate the May 1 rite of spring as International Workers' Day, with strikes for workers' rights. And in recent years, far-right groups and Neo-Nazis have also decided to use the opportunity to raise their voices. 

    Take a look at how people celebrated, protested, and picketed at May Day celebrations around the world this year: 

    SEE ALSO: A former dominatrix reveals two straightforward ways to deal with jerks and sexual predators

    Protesters in the Philippines burned a sculpture of President Rodrigo Duterte during a May Day rally outside the presidential palace in Manila.

    Trade unions are angry that companies can still hand out short-term contracts that don't provide stable benefits to workers. Duterte promised to do away with the practice on the campaign trail in 2016.

    In Berlin, the crowd was largely pro-union and anti-capitalism.

    "We have more rich and even richer people than we ever had before," protester Aimo Tuegel told the Associated Press. "On the other hand, work and working conditions for workers are continuing to get worse."

    In Paris, union marchers took to the streets to protest President Emmanuel Macron's months-old economic reforms, which are aimed at making it easier for companies to hire and fire employees. But they weren't alone.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Memphis Meats

    • Silicon Valley's 33,000-company startup scene is highly competitive.
    • Arvind Gupta is the founder of a fast-growing biotech incubator called IndieBio that funded meat alternative startup Memphis Meats, which is now backed by Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
    • Gupta says most VCs are missing out on the biggest windows of opportunity because of a myopic focus on drug development.

    Drugs are sexy. Climate change? Not so much.

    As a result, venture capitalists have swarmed upon a handful of startups that tout the benefits of new and often preliminary products, while initiatives with slightly more humble goals like making meat without animals have failed to attract funders' attention.

    It's a pattern that Arvind Gupta, the founder of a fast-growing Silicon Valley biotech incubator called IndieBio, aims to avoid. Instead of focusing exclusively on pharmaceuticals, Gupta has his eyes on three major problems that he says startups are uniquely poised to tackle — so long as they make use of what he calls his "secret sauce" for success.

    A world that's running out of resources

    cowMemphis Meats, the alternative meat startup that Gupta helped fund back before its CEO, Uma Valeti, had graced the cover of Inc. Magazine and attracted the attention of people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, sells a solution to a much bigger problem than America's beef glut.

    Instead of simply selling tasty, healthier, less-wasteful source of protein, Valeti is selling one part of a complex solution to climate change. As the planet gets warmer, we'll have less water, less farmable land, and fewer healthy animals — putting a huge amount of stress on farmers and cattle ranchers who will have to find solutions to feeding a mushrooming population.Memphis Meats wants to help by removing the animal altogether, and creating an alternative to meat that's made using animal cells.

    "Unfortunately, the problem with our current venture capitalist model is that these kidns of issues are not addressed," Gupta told Business Insider during a recent visit to IndieBio's headquarters in San Francisco's Civic Center district.

    So far, they've tested a chicken prototype, and dozens of other startups like JUST (formerly Hampton Creek) say they're getting into the lab-grown meat space too.

    But asking that question, and figuring out what happens to our food supply chain when resources begin to become scarce, is precisely what Memphis Meats has done. And it's precisely what has helped them thrive.

    "It's very rare to find someone who gets the 'what if?' but times three," Gupta said.

    An area of medicine with fuzzy federal guidance

    stem cellsWhen it comes to easily-defineable treatments like drugs, pills, and certain forms of therapy, the US Food and Drug Administration can provide solid development guidance, Gupta said.

    Regenerative medicine — essentially a means of healing damaged tissues and organs by creating new ones or reviving dysfunctional ones — doesn't fall into any of those categories. That leaves startups working in the space struggling for helpful benchmarks to work from.

    "It's a hugely underserved area," Gupta said.

    One of the regenerative medicine startups that IndieBio backed as part of its most recent class is JointechLabs. They're making a device that makes it easier to transfer stem cells from areas of the body where they're abundant to places where they're needed to accelerate the healing process.

    A planet that's worth saving before fleeing to Mars

    man hiking waterfall washington state nature parkSending humans to Mars is a moonshot idea, Gupta said. It's an awe-inspiring goal, but he's more interested in focusing on the planet we have first.

    With that in mind, he's been looking at startups with a focus on bioremediation, the process of using tiny organisms like bacteria and fungi to break down pollutants and clean up the environment. UBA Biologix, which IndieBio funded last year, is one such company. They clean up the brackish industrial wastewater from coal, gold, and platinum mines using microorganisms and have a project operating currently at a large coal mine in South Africa.

    Gupta said many companies like UBA wouldn't have been given a chance by traditional venture capitalists because their product doesn't have a traditional pharmaceutical focus. But he sees a potential for these kinds of startups to tackle issues that no one else is addressing. And by doing so, the companies can make a name for themselves and help the world at the same time.

    "It's about giving scientists a chance to become entrepreneurs," Gupta said.

    SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley biotech hub that offers startups $250,000 in funding explains the 'secret sauce' to success

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why humans enjoy pain so much

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    choose water bottle

    • Choose Water's "plastic-less" bottle is made of recycled and natural materials which can purportedly decompose within three weeks.
    • British inventor James Longcroft hopes this will replace single-use plastic bottles and help save oceans from plastic waste.

    A British scientist claims to have invented a plastic-free, single-use water bottle that can decompose within three weeks.

    The Choose Water bottle, developed by James Longcroft, aims to replace plastic bottles and help save the world's oceans from plastic waste.

    The outer lining of the bottle is made out of recycled paper donated by businesses, while the waterproof inner lining is made with a composite material Longcroft has developed himself.

    All the constituents of the bottle can fully decompose within three weeks when left in water or landfill, and can be eaten by sea creatures, the company told Business Insider in a statement.

    The steel cap on the bottle will also rust and fully decompose in about a year, Longcroft told the Evening Standard.

    Plastic usually takes hundreds of years to break down.

    choose water bottle decomposed

    Longcroft, who lives in Scotland, is still waiting for patents and started crowdfunding for the bottle on Monday. He has set a goal of £25,000 ($34,000), of which he has raised about £8,000 ($11,000) so far.

    He hopes to see the bottles available in stores by the end of the year, and that they will be sold for about 85p and 90p (about $1.2) so that they become a viable alternative to plastic, according to The Times.

    Business Insider asked Choose Water to test one of the water bottles, but they said no because they don't want anyone to be left alone with the bottle in case they steal its secrets.

    There are at least 50 million metric tonnes (55 US tons, or 50,000 kg) of plastic in the world's oceans, EcoWatch reported. An emaciated whale washed up in Spain earlier this year with 29 kg of human trash, including plastic bottles and cans, lodged in its stomach.

    SEE ALSO: A desperately thin whale washed up dead on a beach with 29 kg of human trash in its stomach

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What will happen when Earth's north and south poles flip

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