Heroes

A whale interrupts a deep-sea expedition on the site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, the animals of the sea are still recovering.

A whale interrupts a deep-sea expedition on the site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

You may have seen a video making the rounds about deepwater explorers and their encounter with a sperm whale.

It's a really cool clip. If you haven't seen it yet, go ahead and give it a watch (it's at the bottom of this post).


But there are a few things you might not know about that crew. For example...

The crew is led by the same man who discovered the Titanic.

No, not him.

Him!

That's Bob Ballard, and he's basically the Michael Jordan of, uh, doing stuff underwater.

Just two dudes at the top of their game.

So it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he's making rare, chance encounters with whales.

And another thing you might not know about the whale video: It was filmed at the site of the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster.

Less wondrous majesty of the sea, and more ... oil and fire and smoke and stuff.

It's been five years since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

Located roughly 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, it became the site of one of the world's largest drilling-related disasters.

For 87 days, oil rushed from the leak before it was finally capped on July 15, 2010. It wasn't until Sept. 19, though, that the well was sealed off.

According to a report by the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 5 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf.



As part of the containment efforts, the Coast Guard attempted to burn the oil off the surface, as seen in this picture from May 5, 2010.

Wildlife was negatively affected onshore and off, leading to short- and long-term challenges.


Ballard and his crew are out there researching the spill site to answer some remaining questions.

There's still a lot we don't really know about the long-term effects of such a huge spill.

The crew took some time this week to answer questions about their work exploring the area during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session.

They touch on their work, as well as some general questions about the spill. I highly recommend checking it out. It's great stuff.

Check out the team's encounter with the sperm whale below:

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.