How to Snap Out of Gulf Oil Spill-Induced Depression

BlogHer Original Post

I'm an environmental blogger, but I haven't been blogging about the Gulf oil spill.

Sure, I linked to a few articles and videos here and there -- mostly to snarky, darkly funny, making-fun-of-BP type things like @BPGlobalPR, the fake BP PR twitter account that sends out hilarious tweets ("In case you missed our latest magic show, we made a fire vortex on the water! Tada!"). But blogging seriously about the oil spill? That I haven't been able to do.

GRAND ISLE, LA - JUNE 14: Oil is seen in the water off a beach June 14, 2010 on Grand Isle, Louisiana. The BP spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. U.S. government scientists have estimated that the flow rate of oil gushing out of a ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well may be as high 40,000 barrels per day. President Obama will make his fourth trip to the Gulf on Monday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Partly, this is because I'm not a scientist or engineer or economist who can elaborate on the social, ecological, and financial effects of the oil spill. I'm also not a citizen reporter on site, telling personal stories or snapping photos of oil-slicked birds on from the Gulf coast. Mostly, I'm simply a reader and a watcher, bombarded with worse and worse news about the spill. I'm looking on while feeling paralyzed by a sense of helplessness. After all, when a huge, multinational corporation under enormous public and governmental pressure to plug up an oil leak can't seem to plug up the damn leak, what the fuck can I do from my little apartment in Santa Monica?

I, like many environmentalists with a personal blog, like to write about solutions. That means sharing tips and ideas, usually with a can-do attitude. With the gulf oil spill, I'm at a loss. Donating money and signing petitions are important, but feel abstract, intangible.

Perhaps that's why Matter of Trust's efforts to collect hair and fur to clean up the oil spill got so many bloggers blogging -- at last, a concrete task! I did send in my hair, but alas, BP isn't going to be using the stuff.

And considering the enormity of the disaster, even if my hair could be used, my efforts seem small indeed. Earlier this week, BP agreed to put $20 billion -- a sum so large I can't even imagine what the money might looks like stacked in bills -- in a fund to help fishermen and others financially affected by the disaster. Yet that $20 billion, experts are saying, may not be near enough to address the aftermath of the disaster. So what's my 8 ounces of hair going to do?

I'm not alone here -- the sheer size of the problem seems to be keeping many other bloggers from blogging about the spill. In fact, some are avoiding not just writing about it, but hearing about it altogether. Writes Diana of Creating Balance:

I feel physically ill thinking about this, and have mostly avoided media coverage on it. I can't look at photos. I don't want to be stunned and depressed, I want to DO something....

This inability to DO anything to make a real difference seems to be what's keeping bloggers from blogging anything -- save the occasional post about a sense of paralyzing depression. "I am Depressed," is what Janet, an unemployed engineer who blogs at Hamster Dreams, titled her post -- which begins with a news article that, well, depressed Janet. Apparently, the people who actually ARE doing something about the Gulf oil spill and helping with clean up efforts could be at risk for reproductive health problems. Dwelling on that gruesome news leads to more gruesome thoughts for Janet:

Maybe our own foolishness and arrogance combined with a blind faith in either god or technology to save us, will result in mother earth taking charge and involuntarily greatly reducing our numbers, through disease, famine and natural and manmade disasters.

A little grim, but this depressive thought does highlight the fact that we must stop relying so much on fossil fuels if we don't want to simply repeat history. That's what we -- who feel depressed and disempowered -- can start doing right now, urges RD at The Alternative Consumer:

The spill has brought many things into focus – our total lack of preparedness, our corrupt and antiquated Federal regulatory system, and, as the Deepwater Horizon well continues to pump death and destruction into the Gulf, our overwhelming need to examine our century-old dependence on fossil fuels. This tragedy can only serve as a harsh reminder of our need to transition to a cleaner, more environmentally sound energy policy.

Perhaps the enormity of this disaster is what can push us from simply making small green changes in our own lives to seriously pushing for big changes, nationally and internationally. Don't get me wrong -- Small, individual efforts matter. Fellow contributing editor Beth Terry's made a strong case for personal green changes, and bloggers like Tracy Hepler of Your Daily Thread's shared tips on how to squeeze unnecessary oil out of your life.

But small personal actions have to be coupled with big, collective actions. To stop more offshore drilling and its disastrous environmental and financial pitfalls, we have to get not just ourselves, but everyone in America and other countries from using up so much oil.

Ready to get out of that depressive funk and join up with fellow environmentalists? Here's what you really can do -- and must do -- to create large scale, long-term change to prevent future oil spills:

>> If you haven't already, you've got to start by contacting your elected efficials. Sierra Club wants you to send a message to President Obama and urge him to create a plan that moves us off oil in the next 20 years, and NRDC wants you to tell your senators to pass energy legislation that will prevent future oil spills.

>> Now's the time to get out there and meet your neighbors. Sign up to join hands with your neighbors -- literally -- at a Hands Across the Sand event near you on June 26. bigger efforts. The goal's to organize against offshore drilling and for clean and renewable energy.

>> Want to motivate your friends into acting too? Host a Beyond Oil House Party with a little help from The Sierra Club, who will send you a free DVD of Beyond Oil, a 15-minute video about the BP disaster, along with a host packet with the materials you need. Sign up by Mon., June 21 and throw your party between June 28 and July 3.

I have now officially blogged about the Gulf oil spill. What about you? Will you blog about the spill too -- and take action to prevent it in the future?


BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at


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