State of the Gulf Report Released by Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers
More than a year since the BP's Deepwater Horizon well was capped in the Gulf of Mexico, oil continues to wash ashore along beaches and wetlands of the U.S. coast at an alarming rate.
This disaster—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history—has devastated the health of the region's wildlife and lands. It's a growing threat to public health. Local economies—from Florida to Louisiana—and family budgets are suffering. The BP oil disaster isn't over.
To highlight the oil contamination found in the water, sediment, and seafood and sea life across the coastline, on Oct. 4, Waterkeeper Alliance issued The State of the Gulf, a status report of Gulf Coast recovery after the discharge of 250 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The report outlines seven key findings, including calling for long-term environmental monitoring. Currently, the Save Our Gulf Waterkeeper organizations coordinate the most comprehensive citizen-led environmental monitoring effort. The report documents the results of the environmental monitoring project, including oyster tissue sampling from Louisiana to Florida.
Since last summer, Waterkeeper Alliance and Gulf Coast Waterkeepers have been speaking out and advocating for local communities and watersheds to ensure that they're not forgotten. Over the last year, Waterkeeper Alliance has:
- Sampled and monitored the oil contamination found in water, sea life and along the shores of the Gulf states,
- Pressed for a greater voice among local citizens as part of the government's Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, and
- Organized more than 154 environmental, fishing and community groups to demand that that Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Human Services provide resources to those who are experiencing health impacts due to the oil disaster.
The seven key findings of the report include:
- The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is an ongoing disaster. The oil isn't gone, and long-term impacts are still unknown. If past oil spills are used as a barometer we can fully expect the Gulf Coast to suffer continued environmental degradation for decades. Leading scientific studies are showing that three-fourths of the oil is still lingering on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, creating an unprecedented and unknown new environmental reality for the Gulf Coast. Oil is also still along the coastal areas in the form of tarballs, strings and mats, as well as in subsurface sandy beach areas. Our governmental and community leaders must work in concert to find long-term, sustainable solutions for recovery and restoration.
- The BP deepwater horizon oil disaster is a national disaster. The Gulf Coast serves as a resource for the entire nation. The Gulf of Mexico has one of the most productive fisheries in the world, providing more than two-thirds of the nation’s shrimp and oysters along with four of the top seven fishing ports by weight. There are more than 5 million acres of coastal wetlands along the Gulf, which is about half of the coastal wetlands in the United States. If the Gulf Coast collapses and these resources are lost, it will have negative consequences for the entire nation. The BP oil disaster also proved that the industry and federal and state governments and agencies are not prepared for oil spills of national significance. Deficiencies in regulations and enforcement continue to threaten communities and ecosystems across the nation. At a minimum, Oil Spill Commission recommendations must be implemented in order to ensure a higher level of safety in offshore drilling.
- There are growing public health concerns on the gulf coast. While setting up pathways toward ecosystem restoration, the government continues to ignore citizens’ calls for action on public health. Currently there's no government forum for those suffering from and concerned about the short- and long-term health impacts. The impacts extend along all Gulf of Mexico states and consist of current and ex-oil clean-up workers and coastal communities. The people of the Gulf Coast are still in need of proper diagnosis, treatment and medical monitoring. Our health, economy and environment are interconnected and solutions must reflect this.
- Citizens’ participation must be placed at the highest priority for appropriate restoration. To ensure responsible and adequate recovery and restoration for sustainable and resilient communities, public participation must be included in all decision making. A Citizen Advisory Council has been added to provide input to the federal restoration framework, and now a Regional Citizen Advisory Council (RCAC) must be established, funded and given decision-making authority for the Gulf Coast. An RCAC should be charged to help monitor industry compliance, governmental oversight and scientific research in the years following the nation’s largest environmental disaster, thus protecting our environment, communities and economies from additional oil pollution.
- Dedicate clean water act penalties to the Gulf Coast for environmental restoration. Impacted communities need leadership from their congressional delegations to ensure that Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the BP oil disaster are dedicated to the Gulf Coast for environmental restoration. The Gulf of Mexico is a major economic engine for the entire country, and its restoration must be adequately funded.
- The Gulf Coast must restore and rebuild sustainabily. The past seven years have been tumultuous for the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav and now the BP oil disaster have devastated both important natural resources and local economies. In our changing times and climate, the Gulf Coast must show leadership by rebuilding, recovering and restoring sustainability. Restoring wetlands, oyster reefs and natural flow regimes can build resiliency back into our coastal communities. We have an opportunity to make fundamental changes to the way we have cared for our environment and natural resources, and we must not let the lessons of this disaster or the gateway to change be lost.
- Long-term environmental monitoring is essential. Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers has collected and analyzed over 100 samples of aquatic organism tissue, soil and water from Gulf of Mexico coastal areas from Louisiana to Florida. We found petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in all of the areas that were sampled and in the tissue of many of the seafood species. The data that we collected also lead us to believe that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination in some seafood species may be increasing over time. In light of these results, we believe that comprehensive long-term environmental monitoring is essential to understanding, protecting and restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem in the wake of the BP oil disaster.
To download the full report, click here.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
Years of Work Reduced to Weeks<p>Russia is the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. As <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coronavirus-vaccine-may-only-be-available-in-mid-2021/a-54362065" target="_blank">countries worldwide race to produce the first vaccine</a>, health experts warn that speed and national pride could compromise safety.</p><p>Scientists in Russia and abroad have questioned Moscow's decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people, but Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary trials and that vaccination will be voluntary.</p><p>Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and mass vaccination may start as early as October.</p><p>Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippines-duterte-volunteers-to-be-putins-russian-coronavirus-vaccine-guinea-pig/a-54523030" target="_blank">lauded Russia's efforts in developing the vaccine</a> and said that the Philippines is ready to work with Moscow on vaccine trials, supply and production. Duterte volunteered to "be the first they can experiment on."</p><p>"I will tell President Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said, adding that he thinks Russia's vaccine will be ready for the Philippines by December.</p>
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By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By Farah Aqel
Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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A 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves, Reuters reported. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.
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