Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg backs Biden’s infrastructure bill, says ‘we’re still coasting on infrastructure choices’ from the 1950s

Pete Buttigieg
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg at a press conference in February.

  • Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg is helping rally support for Biden’s infrastructure plan.
  • Buttigieg said on Sunday the American Jobs Plan represented “a generational investment.”
  • The plan aims for upgrades in everything from roads and bridges to public schools and airports.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday promoted President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, making the case that the legislation would be transformational for the country.

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Buttigieg said the American Jobs Plan represented “a generational investment” that would produce “economic growth that’s going to go on for years and years.”

“Infrastructure is the foundation that makes it possible for Americans to thrive,” he said. “And what we know is that foundation has been crumbling.

Buttigieg made the argument that the current transportation network, built up decades ago, has to meet the needs of a modern society.

“We’re still coasting on infrastructure choices that were made in the 1950s,” he said. “Now’s our chance to make infrastructure choices for the future that are going to serve us well in the 2030s and onto the middle of the century when we will be judged for whether we meet this moment here in the 2020s.”

Biden’s massive plan includes $621 billion in transportation infrastructure investments, with direct funding for road and bridge repairs, improvements in Amtrak passenger train service, lead pipe repairs, port and airport funding, and public school improvements, among other long-awaited projects.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California is seeking to have a bill passed sometime in July, but the legislation’s fate also rests in the hands of the Senate, which the party only narrowly controls.

While Biden is seeking Republican input on the bill, Democrats have not ruled out passing an infrastructure package through the reconciliation process, which would only require a party-line vote.

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

In order to pay for the plan, Biden hopes to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, which congressional Republicans vehemently oppose.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky last week said that in its current form, Biden’s infrastructure bill will be a hard sell for his caucus, especially if it is funded with “a combination of massive tax increases on businesses and individuals, and more borrowing.”

“I think that package they’re putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side,” he said.

GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said on ABC’s “This Week” earlier on Sunday that a smaller infrastructure bill could be “a bipartisan, easy win” for the president.

“The other 70 or so percent of the package that doesn’t have very much to do with infrastructure, if you want to force that in a partisan way, you can still do that,” he added.

Buttigieg, along with Housing and Urban Development secretary Marcia Fudge, Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, and Labor secretary Marty Walsh, have been tasked with helping rally support behind the plan.

Buttigieg emphasized during the Sunday interview that Biden’s plan would not only repair aging US transportation networks, but would strengthen the country’s economic standing and position it as a leader on climate change.

“America will be much more economically competitive, we’ll be stronger in terms of leading the world because of the research and development investments that are here, and we will be on track to avoid climate disaster because of the provisions for things like electric vehicles,” he said.

He added: “Those electric vehicles that more and more people around the world are driving will be increasingly made in America by union workers. This is what you get for planning for the long term.”

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What if the Earth spun sideways on its axis

Following is a transcript of the video.

Early in the history of our solar system, something mysteriously knocked Earth slightly off its axis. So today we tilt at 23.5 degrees. But what would happen if we tilted even more? What if Earth spun sideways on its axis? Well, it wouldn’t take long before utter chaos ensued.

One of the most important consequences of Earth’s axial tilt is the seasons. Seasons happen because the tilt points different parts of the planet toward the sun at different times of the year. But the tilt also means that different parts of the globe receive different amounts of sunlight during each season. And that’s where a more extreme tilt starts to cause problems. Right now, during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, places far north, like Utqiagvik, Alaska, receive 24 hours of sunlight for 82 days straight. Because Earth is tilted far enough on its axis that as the planet rotates, Utqiagvik never leaves direct sunlight. On the other hand, the contiguous US receives a max of 17 hours a day, because after that it rotates out of daytime sunlight and into night. But if we tilted Earth’s axis even more, to 90 degrees, the US would get sunlight 24/7, around the clock, for months on end. And it’s not just the US; the entire Northern Hemisphere would be like this.

At first, animals would take advantage of the extra light to find and eat more food, just like Alaskan birds, which feed their chicks extra nutrition in the summer, resulting in faster-growing babies than their southern counterparts. And plant growth would explode since they get their energy directly from sunlight. Farms in northern Alaska, for example, grow cabbages the size of rottweilers in the summer.

But while animals and plants would thrive, humans wouldn’t. We evolved to be active during the day and sleep at night. But if we were exposed to unending sunlight, our brains would stop producing the hormone melatonin, which we need to sleep at night. And that could lead to sleep deprivation, depression, and, ultimately, a more severe, chronic version of these symptoms called seasonal affective disorder, which already affects 9% of Alaskans, compared to just 6% of the entire United States.

But that’s less of a worry than the floods. Temperatures at the North Pole would more than double, to 38 degrees Celsius from 15.5 degrees Celsius. That’s hotter than temperatures at the equator today. As a result, Greenland’s ice cap would melt, causing sea levels to rise by 7 meters, and flood nearly every coastal city on Earth. Say goodbye to New York, Copenhagen, and Tokyo. To make matters worse, the warmer seas would trigger stronger and more frequent hurricanes, which form when seawater evaporates at the surface.

And the weather wouldn’t get better when winter comes six months later. Out of reach of the sun’s direct beams for months at a time, the hemisphere would get colder than any winter on record. Swirls of frigid air, called a polar vortex, which are normally dissipated by warm air in the tropics, could travel all the way down to the equator. Imagine blizzards in Florida, Brazil, Kenya! And all those thriving plants, they’d die from a lack of sunlight. Agriculture would collapse as ecosystems crumble and mass extinctions pile up.

And there would be even more floods, because meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere is getting toasty and the South Pole is home to 90% of the world’s ice. The constant sunlight would raise its temperature to 38 degrees Celsius from -28 degrees Celsius, melting the ice and raising sea levels by a whopping 61 meters. That’s almost as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Greenland’s flood would look like a puddle in comparison.

So all in all, while a few extra hours in the summer sun would be nice, let’s leave the extra seasons to Alaska and be glad the Earth is tilted exactly as it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2019.

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After a massive iceberg broke away from Antarctica, it revealed a long-hidden world of creatures on the seafloor

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
The research vessel Polarstern in the gap between iceberg A74 (right) and Brunt Ice Shelf (left).

  • Last month, an iceberg the size of Los Angeles, called A74, broke off of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf and floated away.
  • Researchers aboard the Polarstern vessel happened to be nearby, so they investigated the area of the seafloor that had been covered by the iceberg, half a mile down.
  • They found marine creatures that had been hidden for decades, including anemones, sea stars, sponges, marine worms, fish, and sea pigs. They also collected samples.
  • The researchers captured hours of video footage and thousands of underwater images. A selection of their most interesting photos are below.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The researchers aboard the Polarstern research vessel found themselves in the right place at the right time last month. They were sailing near Antarctica’s northern rim when a giant iceberg broke off the continent.

brunt ice shelf
Crew members of the Polarstern prepare to deploy an underwater camera system.

The ship was some 3,000 miles from the southernmost tip of South America, not far from the Brunt Ice Shelf, which is replete with giant, growing cracks. On February 26, one of those cracks tore through the shelf, and an iceberg of more than 490 square miles (1,270 square kilometers) splintered off. This known as a calving event.

The iceberg, named A74, is about the size of Los Angeles, and more than 20 times the size of Manhattan. As it moved away from Antarctica, it revealed a part of the sea floor that hadn’t seen sunlight in 50 years.

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A view of the gap between iceberg A74 (right) and the Brunt Ice Shelf, where new ice has started to form.

The Polarstern crew waited for strong winds in the area to abate, then entered the gap between the A74 and the ice shelf on March 13. The scientists’ goal: investigate the portion of the Weddell Sea bed that had been covered by up to 1,000 feet of thick ice for decades.

The Polarstern crew deployed a camera instrument called the Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry System, or OFOBS.

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Crew members of the Polarstern prepare to submerge the Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry System.

They towed it behind the the ship on a long cable, submerging the OFOBS up to half a mile under the surface.

The OFOBS recorded five hours of footage and took thousands of photos.

The crew also deployed buoys that could measure the temperature and salt content of the water in the newly created gap. Data from the buoys could tell scientists how quickly that part of the Antarctic is warming.

Once OFOBS reached the sea floor, it spotted various creatures living among stones that had tumbled into the water from the ice shelf above.

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A sea anemone attached to a stone under the Antarctic ice.

Most of the creatures the cameras spotted were sessile animals: organisms like anemones that attach themselves to rocks or the ocean floor and don’t move.

Most of the species were filter feeders, like sea sponges.

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
A sea sponge nearly a foot wide is affixed to a small seafloor stone.

These immobile creatures eat microscopic algae and other tiny organic particles in the water that float near their stony abodes.

According to Autun Purser, a member of the OFOBS team, the presence of these filter feeders wasn’t a surprise. But some of the findings shocked his team.

brunt ice shelf
A 1.5-foot-wide stone heavily populated by filter feeding animals, including large sponges.

“I was expecting fewer, larger filter feeding animals (sponges mainly),” Purser, an oceanic researcher with the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, told Insider via email from aboard the Polarstern.

That expectation was based, in part, on findings from a group of British researchers that also drilled more than half a mile into the ice shelf last month, 162 miles from the area Purser’s team was exploring. That team found sponges living on stones under the ice.

Purser’s team was startled to see many creatures swimming around, rather than staying stationary.

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
A marine worm leaves a spiral trail of poop on the sea floor.

“I was not expecting to see octopus and fish, or many mobile animals, and they were actually there,” he said.

The OFOBS spotted sea cucumbers, brittle sea stars, mollusks, worms, at least five fish species, and two types of octopus.

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
A stone housing a brittle sea star, or ophiuroid. The white curled features are the starfish’s arms, raised to help it capture prey and food.

Using a grabbing device aboard the OFOBS, the scientists collected specimens of some of the creatures, as well as silt from sea floor.

The OFOBS also glimpsed a cute type of sea cucumber called a sea pig.

brunt ice shelf sea pigs
Sea pigs, or holothurians, feed on organic material on the ocean floor.

These translucent, water-filled creatures have tube-like legs — sometime on their heads — that help them scuttle about in the deepest, darkest parts of every ocean on the planet. 

It’s a bit of a mystery what, precisely, sustained this diverse, underwater ecosystem in the absence of sunlight. Most organic food stuffs and algae hang out in parts of the ocean where they have access to the light they need to survive.

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
An anemone surrounded by the poop trails of a long-departed marine worm.

By collecting more seafloor samples and visiting this area of the Weddell Sea again in the future, the Polarstern researchers hope to answer that question.

Purser said the team’s observations show that marine ecosystems can be quite diverse and abundant, even if there’s only a moderate amount of food available.

brunt ice shelf
A view of the Weddell Swa between the Brunt Ice Shelf and the A74 iceberg that broke off the shelf in February 2021.

“Possibly everything happens over a longer timeframe, animals more slowly growing, etc.,” he added. “But to determine if this is the case, repeat observations of the under-ice community, whilst still under ice, would be needed.”

The team hopes to one day use autonomous underwater robots to investigate parts of the ocean that were formerly trapped under the ice.

This isn’t the first time Antarctica has lost a giant iceberg, and it won’t be the last.

Brunt North Rift_12Jan2021_Andy Van Kints_02
A crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf that eventually birthed iceberg A74, as seen from the air on January 12, 2021.

“It is entirely natural for sections to calve away from ice shelves. As ice flows off the land, the ice shelf grows and eventually reaches a size which is unstable,” Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University in Wales, previously told Insider. “Some calving events are small and go unnoticed, but every few years a large one such as this happens.”

Researchers aboard the Polarstern said icebergs the size of A74 slough off every decade or so.

polarstern brunt ice shelf AWI
A TerraSAR-X satellite image of the A74 iceberg, left, in the Weddell Sea of Antarctica as it breaks off from the Brunt Ice Shelf.

In 2017, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the continent’s Larsen C Ice Shelf.

Luckman thinks another iceberg will break off the Brunt Ice Shelf in the coming weeks or months.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new machine is helping French chefs recycle old bread into a flour substitute, and it could reduce food waste

  • A new machine called Le Crumbler is helping French chefs recycle old bread into a substitute for flour.
  • The machine was invented in 2015 by an urban planner who wanted to address food waste.
  • France forbids supermarkets from throwing out food, but 150,000 tons of bread are still tossed annually.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Earthquake experts debunk 13 earthquake and earthquake safety myths

  • Veronica Cedillos and Gerardo Suarez debunk 13 myths about earthquakes and earthquake safety.
  • They explain why doorways aren’t safe, and why the “Triangle of Life” is actually dangerous.
  • They also explain how seismologists and experts work together to prepare for earthquakes.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Gerardo Suárez: “The ground can open up during an earthquake.” Everything disappears in the earth. Earthquakes don’t operate like that. “You should always try to get outside” when an earthquake occurs.

Veronica Cedillos: In the midst of running, you can get seriously injured.

Suárez: “California will fall into the ocean.” Well, the answer is of course not.

Hello, I’m Veronica Cedillos. I am a structural engineer by training. I am currently president at GeoHazards International.

My name is Gerardo Suárez. I am a senior scientist at the Institute of Geophysics at the National University of Mexico. Today, we are debunking myths about earthquakes and earthquake safety.

Suárez: These are myths from social media. “Doorways are a safe place to take cover during an earthquake.” And, Veronica, I think you’re better prepared than I am.

Cedillos: Yeah. This is definitely a myth. Something we’ve heard from, I think, past, very old construction. And that was when the frame around doors was actually part of the skeleton of the building that really kept up the building, so it was a really strong part of the structure. Modern construction does not have that. In fact, the doors are not in any way stronger, so they’re really not helpful or very protective during earthquake shaking. And, in fact, I would say that holding onto a doorframe, if you have a swinging door during strong earthquakes, you can actually get quite injured.

Suárez: There’s no universal recipe to be safe. It depends on how your house, your apartment building is built and where you live, even in what part of the city you live in.

Cedillos: The work has to happen before the earthquake in terms of finding a safe place. Create a safe place. So, trying to figure out, OK, if there was shaking, looking up in your own home and seeing what could fall over or topple that can be heavy.

Suárez: This question is about the “Triangle of Life.” Will it save you?

Cedillos: You can see some of these voids after the shaking has happened, but what you don’t see is what happened in between. And so it may have been that this very dense object, with strong shaking, might’ve moved quite a distance, or those objects can actually topple, and in many cases it can actually be way more dangerous to be there. If you could get under a sturdy table, that would probably be best. Protecting your head and neck are really important.

Suárez: But yes, there may be some cases where people were saved because they accidentally were trapped between a very strong object and perhaps a beam or something that fell down. But I think it is more circumstantial evidence than anything else.

Cedillos: “Earthquake-proof buildings are indestructible.” I want to make a distinction between earthquake-proof and earthquake-resistant. So, in practice, we don’t usually design or build earthquake-proof buildings. So, a similarity might be waterproof versus water-resistant. And I think for a very long time we went from really trying to ensure that our designs were life-safe. So they really were protecting the occupants inside the building. Now, what we’ve learned as we’ve seen earthquakes in other parts of the world, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have damage to a building. And so it may be that after an earthquake, your building no longer functions and you can no longer stay in it. And if that happens on a grand scale, all of a sudden you have an entire city that can’t be housed or buildings that can’t be used for businesses. And so it really affects the economy and the community as a whole. And now there’s a big movement to try to move towards designing not just for life safety but actually what’s called “functional recovery,” with the idea that you can recover in a shorter time span.

“Small earthquakes prevent bigger ones from happening.”

Suárez: Well, I bear bad news for people who believe in this, because people do say, “Oh, it’s been very active, lots of small earthquakes, so they’re taking up the energy that’s concentrated on the fault.” And indeed, yes, they’re releasing some energy. And that happens in places that we call subduction zones, where one tectonic plate goes under another one, that there are dozens, literally hundreds of small earthquakes in a certain time frame in a certain place. But, eventually, in these active faults you will have a major earthquake. And by major, I would just say larger than magnitude 7.5. That is required to release the energy that has been accumulated.

Cedillos: I think there’s a misconception that it’s only the very big one that’s going to be the most dangerous. But, in fact, what we see is that even with moderate earthquakes, there can be a lot of actually injuries and death, even. Unreinforced chimneys, we know, are very vulnerable to collapse under very low levels of shaking. And those falling into a household, for example, can be very dangerous.

Suárez: “We are overdue for a major earthquake.” So, when we say “overdue,” we imply that we know the earthquake should have occurred before, and it hasn’t. And this is something that we simply do not know.

Cedillos: Prediction versus forecasting. I think that’s where we get a little bit of a misunderstanding, because we can forecast, usually in probabilities, and say there’s a probability that there’ll be this size of earthquake within this region. And so we really can’t predict specifically where and when an earthquake will occur.

Suárez: Everyone who lives in a seismic area should be aware. Everyone should have a kit at home. You need to have some water, you need to have a lamp light, and so on and so forth.

OK. These are myths from pop culture.

“You should always try to get outside” when an earthquake occurs.

Cedillos: For the most part, this is probably not a very safe practice, to run outside during earthquake shaking, especially because many times things can fall outward. In the midst of running, you can get seriously injured. In the one situation where it is a good idea, and that’s in an adobe, earthen building that is not strengthened or reinforced in some way. Those buildings are particularly dangerous when you have a heavy roof. If you’re on the ground floor of one of these buildings, you do want to try to run out, assuming you’re running out into a space that’s open. But if you’re already outside, stay outside. You want to try to get away from building facades, because there can be bricks falling. You want to be very careful about that.

Suárez: “The ground can open up during an earthquake.” It is a myth that has to be debunked. This myth comes very much from earthquake movies, where you see that during the earthquake, there is a big crack that opens, and it swallows buildings and people and cars. And then it just, boom, it shuts tight, and everything disappears in the earth. And this doesn’t happen. Earthquakes don’t operate like that. In certain types of soils, cracks are formed because of the very strong shaking, but these are relatively shallow cracks. I mean, they wouldn’t swallow, not even a small cat. And probably that image was extrapolated into this fantastic idea of these huge mouths as swallowing everything in its surroundings. So, no. The answer is definitely not.

“In the US, a big enough earthquake on the West Coast could be felt on the East Coast.”

It will be so big that even though it’s happening here in California, you will feel it on the East Coast.

Cedillos: No, that is not what we expect! It’s just a big enough distance that we don’t expect for anyone to feel any significant shaking on the East Coast from a large earthquake on the West Coast. The plates and the type of rock that we have on the East Coast versus the West Coast, they are different. And so what happens is that the type of rock that we have in the East Coast, the earthquake waves, seismic waves can actually travel much further. So what happens is that in the East Coast, you’ll be able to perceive or feel significant shaking actually much further distances from the epicenter, or the origin of where the earthquake shaking started. As opposed to the West Coast, where those seismic waves, actually that energy is absorbed much quicker, and so it doesn’t travel as much of a far distance.

“We are able to predict earthquakes.”

Suárez: This is a very simple answer. It is no. No, we cannot yet predict earthquakes. And I added the word “yet.” I wouldn’t say that now it continues to be the goal of seismology to be able to predict earthquakes. I believe the goal of everyone who works in seismology or in engineering seismology, it is not to predict earthquakes, but to be prepared for major earthquakes, to understand the phenomenon.

Cedillos: There are use of what we call “earthquake scenarios,” and what those are, they’re not predictions, but they’re incredibly useful in the sense that many times we don’t see changes in codes or anything until after there’s an earthquake and we learned everything that went wrong. We use the tool of an earthquake scenario – so, we choose a believable earthquake that could happen in a certain area to try to understand what may be some of the key vulnerabilities around that particular city or area, whether it’s the water system or the housing or the hospitals, to try to get ahead and try to instill safer practices or actions that will help us address those vulnerabilities before an earthquake occurs.

Myths experts hear the most.

Suárez: So, “In tall buildings, it is always safer to be on a lower floor.”

Cedillos: If you’re in a tall building, especially in a place where the codes are usually followed, it’s likely that they’re actually under even higher requirements in terms of design, and so, as long as the building is safe, it doesn’t matter too much where you are. That being said, if there is more movement, that’s when it is really, really important to make sure that the contents within your house, or whatever, your office building, are secured and that they can’t fall over and topple over and hurt you.

Suárez: “California will fall into the ocean.” Well, the answer is of course not. You know, California would not fall into the ocean. Part of California, the westernmost sliver of California, it sits on the Pacific Plate, whereas the rest of California sits on the North American Plate. And these two plates move one relative to one another at a rate of about 5 to 6 centimeters per year. So, yes, when people say Los Angeles is going to end up near Anchorage, well, yes, eventually, but in many millions of years.

OK. “There’s such thing as earthquake weather.” But no. There is no season for earthquakes, there is no weather for earthquakes, and there’s no specific time for earthquakes. You might be thinking of a very convenient time that an earthquake would happen. It might be very inconvenient.

Cedillos: When you think about earthquake shaking, you have to think about different times of the year and different times of the day. You might be sleeping, or it might be winter. It might be raining. And so the danger is that you’re not thinking of all these scenarios.

“Bigger earthquakes happen under full moons.”

Suárez: People connect that to the pull of tides. And it’s true. We are very used to the ocean being deformed and the water level changing due to the tides depending on the cycles of the moon. And this also happens in the earth. The earth itself, the continents themselves are deformed because of this rotation of the moon. The deformation is not large enough to produce earthquakes. And people have looked at statistics to see, and there has been absolutely no correlation at all.

Cedillos: A lot of the actions that you need to take to really protect communities and protect people need to be taken years before the earthquake actually arrives.

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The 6 best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A durable, reusable shopping tote is versatile for groceries, library books, and retail returns, among other errands. Whether stored on your passenger seat or inside your trunk, it’s an easy carrier for your items and will save time otherwise spent unloading too many plastic bags.

Of course, reusable bags have the added benefit of being sustainable. Most are made of nylon or canvas and come in all shapes and sizes. Though they look similar on the surface, there are subtle differences that make some perform better (and last longer) than others. Some, like our top pick, come with their own storage solutions, and others are sturdier than the competition.

Here are the best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

The best reusable bag overall

bagpodz reusable storage system

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes with multiple nylon shopping bags, a pouch for on-the-go storage, and an affixed clip to attach to your shopping cart.

Pros: Comes with multiple bags, storage pouch, clip for shopping cart, water-resistant material

Cons: Limited designs

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes in a set of five or 10 sustainable, machine-washable nylon shopping bags. They’re ideal for transporting groceries and are especially unique for their compact pouch that holds the bags when you aren’t using them.

Aside from their smart storage, there’s a clip on one end of the pouch that attaches to a shopping cart so you don’t have to juggle bags in the middle of the produce aisle. Each bag holds up to 50 pounds yet can easily be stored in your purse or glove compartment. BagPodz’s material is water-resistant, too, so you won’t have to worry about leaks in the event of a spill. 

The best reusable canvas bag

Duck Bag Canvas Tote copy

The Baggu Duck Bag is a sturdy canvas tote suitable for a variety of lifestyles and purposes.

Pros: Durable, machine washable, multiple handles

Cons: Not as large as some picks

For a reusable, practical, and multipurpose shopping bag, the Baggu Duck Bag is our favorite canvas tote. You could easily take it from the office to the grocery store because it snaps shut, has an interior zipper pocket, and two sets of straps: top handles and shoulder straps.

Despite the deep compartment, its restrictive shape makes it better for smaller runs than your big weekly shopping haul. It will last you a while, too, as the machine-washable, artfully-worn fabrics are thicker and more durable than some of its nylon counterparts. 

The best reusable waxed bag

colony waxed canvas

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is a sustainable take on old-school paper bags and will last you for years of grocery trips.

Pros: Durable waxed canvas design

Cons: Only has top straps

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is made of waxed material that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. It’s also vegan, so it’s free of beeswax and leather.  Though not machine washable, the 16-ounce bag is an all-in-one carrier for cereal boxes and baked bread alike.

The brand also sells reusable produce bags, which would make a nice addition to any sustainable shopping routine.

The best reusable bag on a budget

easy fold

Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are an affordable set of three nylon bags that conveniently fold for your shopping trips.

Pros: Affordable, machine washable

Cons: Fabric is a little shiny, not as sturdy as other picks

If you’re not looking to splurge, Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are a great option. The set comes with three ripstop nylon bags that fold easily. They’re machine-washable, too, so it’s a practical option for your essential items. 

They’re also extremely functional and come in three colors for less than $10.  They aren’t as sturdy as some of the pricier options, but if you’re looking to reduce waste on a budget, the bags’ reinforced stitching should last you a good while. 

The best insulated reusable bag

veno bag slide image

Veno Bag’s Insulated Grocery Bag is a durable, boxy tote that will keep your vegetables and other perishables cool.

Pros: Made with 80% post-consumer recycled material, aluminum covered thermal insulation, can hold up to 30 pounds, flexible fabric sides for odd-shaped items

Cons: May be bulky to carry

For days when you’re hopping from the grocery store to the library to the post office, it’s important for your perishables to remain cool and fresh. The Veno Bag ensures just that with its aluminum-covered thermal insulation, ideal for avoiding unnecessary pit stops home before heading out for other errands.

A novelty feature of this tote is its recyclable fabric sides which allow for simple storage of irregularly-shaped items. Though the box style may make it inconvenient for carrying, the added bonus of temperature regulation doesn’t make it a dealbreaker.

The best large reusable bag

Standard_Baggu_Ripstop_Black 04_170e81d6 99cf 4ae7 8bd4 7a72550e89bc_2048x2048

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag is great for buying canned goods and other items in bulk, holding up to 50 pounds at a time.

Pros: Holds up to 50 pounds, machine washable, folds into a small square

Cons: Short handles, shapeless

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag comes in a host of cute colors and patterns, is durable and flexible, and is made of 100% ripstop nylon. Despite its large capacity, it folds down to a neat 7-by-7-inch square for easy storage. 

The material is both thin and strong, too, allowing for hassle-free carrying. And, when you’ve unpacked your goodies, just throw it in your washing machine before its next use. 

Check out our other grocery guides

groceries
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An iceberg the size of Los Angeles just broke off Antarctica – and it could happen again within weeks

Brunt North Rift (Feb2021)_Sebastian Gleich.JPG
A view of the North Rift crack on the Brunt Ice Shelf in February 2021.

Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf is replete with giant cracks. 

Scientists have been keeping tabs on the capricious ice for years, and the event they’d been watching out for finally happened on Friday: An iceberg more than 490 square miles (1,270 square kilometers) in size splintered off the shelf. It’s about the size of Los Angeles, and more than 20 times the size of Manhattan. 

The Brunt Ice Shelf is located on Antarctica’s northern rim, some 3,000 miles from the southernmost tip of South America. It has all the key ingredients for a massive calving event – the term for when a chunk of ice breaks off and floats out to sea. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), had warned since November that the event was “imminent,” since a crack called the North Rift had opened up on the shelf. 

In January, the rift started lengthening by more than half a mile per day. The video below shows the crack from the air.

Early on Friday, the last 1,000 or so feet (a few hundred meters) of the crack tore through the ice, and the ‘berg cracked free.

Converging cracks in the ice

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The North Rift crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf, as seen from the air on January 12, 2021.

The North Rift is the third major crack to develop on the Brunt Ice Shelf since 2011, according to the BAS, which keeps tabs on the region’s ice using satellite imagery.

But this one wasn’t the crack that had researchers concerned. Two other cracks have been accelerating toward each other since 2019, known as the “Halloween crack” and “Chasm 1.” If  those meet, an even bigger iceberg will slough off into the ocean. 

“It seemed as though one of these would eventually lead to a calving event,” Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University in Wales, told Insider. “The development of a new ‘North Rift’ towards the end of 2020 was a bit of a surprise but shows how complex the dynamics of ice shelves can be.”

NASA started tracking the Halloween crack in October 2016 (hence its name). It’s growing eastward from an area called McDonald Ice Rumples – a spot on the shelf’s surface where the ice isn’t flat and instead features crevasses and rifts.

The “Chasm 1” crack is located southeast of the McDonald Ice Rumples and started showing signs of movement in 2012. It started accelerating north in 2019, putting it on a collision course with the Halloween crack. The two are now just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) apart.

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A map shows cracks on the Brunt Ice Shelf and the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI research station, February 26, 2021.

When they converge, a piece of ice about 660 square miles in size could break off the ice shelf.

According to the BAS, neither Chasm 1 nor the Halloween Crack have grown in the last 18 months. But Luckman, who’s been tracking the Brunt Ice Shelf cracks over the past few weeks using satellite imagery, thinks that quiet period is at an end. 

“Chasm 1 will certainly give rise to a further large calving event and I anticipate that this will happen in weeks to months,” he said.

The changing ice forced British researchers inland

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The North Rift crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf, as seen from the air on January 12, 2021.

This isn’t the first time Antarctica has lost a giant iceberg, and it didn’t set any records for size. In 2017, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the continent’s Larsen C Ice Shelf. 

“It is entirely natural for sections to calve away from ice shelves. As ice flows off the land, the ice shelf grows and eventually reaches a size which is unstable,” Luckman said. “Some calving events are small and go unnoticed, but every few years, a large one such as this happens.”

It’s difficult for scientists to determine how and why certain cracks in the Antarctic ice suddenly begin to grow, and there’s “no evidence that climate change has played a significant role,” the BAS said in a press release

Still, research shows that warming oceans are speeding up Antarctica’s melting overall. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year

The instability of the ice has already impacted BAS researchers working at the Halley Research Station, where scientists study space weather and Earth’s atmosphere. In 2017, the expansion of Chasm 1 forced scientists to prematurely end the winter research season at Halley and close the station early

Since the station’s inception in 1956, there have been six Halleys. The station’s current iteration, Halley VIa, moved 14 miles upstream from its original location, which had been to the west of Chasm 1, on the crack’s inland side. 

“Four years ago, we moved Halley Research Station inland to ensure that it would not be carried away when an iceberg eventually formed. That was a wise decision,” Simon Garrod, director of operations at BAS, said in the release. “Our job now is to keep a close eye on the situation and assess any potential impact of the present calving on the remaining ice shelf.”

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The British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI research station on the Brunt Ice Shelf.

Luckman said he doesn’t think future calving events will pose a threat to the research station.

“Halley VI is on a stable part of the ice shelf,” he said. “But as we have seen, the future behaviour of fracturing ice is very hard to predict.” 

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Why you should never release your pet goldfish into the wild

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 off 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 that 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 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, or 2 kilograms, 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 – their 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 three 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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2018.

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An iceberg the size of Delaware that was heading straight for a penguin colony island has broken into two pieces

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The iceberg (L) is headed for South Georgia Island, which is home to millions of penguins.

  • A massive iceberg bound for South Georgia Island, which is populated by millions of penguins, has broken into two pieces, scientists tracking its journey said on Friday. 
  • Strong underwater currents caused the iceberg, dubbed A68a, to pivot nearly 180 degrees before splitting apart. It was only 31 miles away from the shores of the island.
  • The iceberg, which was the size of Delaware, threatened to cut off vital ocean access for the island’s penguin and seal population.
  • Even though the iceberg has broken apart, scientists still worry that the larger piece could still hit the island, and endanger its inhabitants.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An iceberg the size of Delaware, which was on course to crash into an island populated by a penguin colony, has broken into two pieces, scientists tracking its journey said on Friday.

In the last few weeks, the iceberg, dubbed A68a, came dangerously close to South Georgia Island in the south Atlantic, threatening to cut off vital ocean access for the island’s penguin and seal population. 

The island is home to millions of gentoo, macaroni, and king penguins and sea lions, nesting albatrosses, and petrels.

But as the massive iceberg approached the western shelf edge of the island this week, strong underwater currents caused it to turn nearly 180 degrees, Geraint Tarling, a biological oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey, told the Guardian.

“You can almost imagine it as a handbrake turn for the iceberg because the currents were so strong,” Tarling said, according to the Guardian.

The intense turn caused the large iceberg to break into two pieces, just 31 miles away from the island’s west coast.

The new, smaller piece, which has already been named A68D, is currently moving further away from the original. Scientists are unable to provide an estimate of its size.

The original iceberg is heading south-east, where it is expected to be picked up by another current that will carry it back around toward the island’s east coast. 

Scientists warn that South Georgia Island is not in the clear just yet and that the separate pieces could still cause an environmental disaster for its inhabitants. 

“All of those things can still happen. Nothing has changed in that regard,” Tarling said, according to the Guardian.

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Iceberg A68a (left) and South Georgia Island (right) as seen by satellite on December 14, 2020.

A68a first broke off from an Antarctic ice shelf in 2017 and had been drifting ever since.

As it headed towards South Georgia Island, scientists worried that it would completely destroy the island’s underwater shelf and marine life.

There is also a possibility of the iceberg getting lodged in the island’s shoreline, where it could stay there for 10 years. That would cut access to the ocean for penguin and seal parents, who make trips into the water to fill up on fish and krill to feed their young.

South Georgia Island finds itself in a perilous location because it sits in the middle of an alley of currents that bring bigger icebergs north from Antarctica toward the Equator. 

In 2004, another iceberg, called A38-B, ran aground off the island, killing many seal pups and young penguins. 

Registering a record high temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius (69.35 degrees Fahrenheit) on February 9, the peninsula is also one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, which has scientists worried that the melting ice will eventually contribute to higher sea levels worldwide.

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