Archive | Environment

Gulf Residents Likely Face Decades of Psychological Impact From BP’s Oil Disaster

Story by Dahr Jamail, Photography by Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report

Louisiana resident at a public forum about the BP oil disaster and the widespread use of toxic dispersants. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

Louisiana resident at a public forum about the BP oil disaster and the widespread use of toxic dispersants. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

While the devastating ecological impacts of BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are obvious, the less visible but also long-lasting psychological, community and personal impacts could be worse, according to social scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists.

“People are becoming more and more hopeless and feeling helpless,” Dr. Arwen Podesta, a psychiatrist at Tulane University in New Orleans told Truthout. “They are feeling frantic and overwhelmed. This is worse than [Hurricane] Katrina. There is already more post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more problems with domestic violence, threats of suicide and alcohol and drugs.”

Dr. Podesta, who also works in addiction clinics and hospitals said, “It’s a remarkably similar experience to that of the stressors of Katrina. There is an acute event, but then a long-term increase in hopelessness with every promise that is broken. Like a promise for money to rebuild a life, then people are put through red tape and each time they fail to move forward, they take five steps back in their psychological welfare.”

“The total number of years this will affect us is unknown,” Dr. Podesta said, adding, “however, it could affect us for possibly 20 to 30 years.”

Dr. Janet Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry at Tulane University, told Truthout, “People are on edge. People are feeling grief. I’m hearing of physical illnesses related to the oil and people are worried about losing their home, their culture, their way of life.”

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Our Complicity

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld

We rather be ruined than changed.
We rather die in our dread,
than climb the cross of the moment,
and let our illusions
die.

-W.H. Auden, excerpted from “The Age of Anxiety”

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Not long ago we strolled along a beautiful white-sand beach in Orange Beach, Alabama, taking photos of freshly washed ashore black and brown tar balls. We watched little boys playing in the shallow surf, trying to catch minnows, as red oil boom bobbed in the waves just offshore behind them. This is the world we have all created.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

What Happens Next?

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Recently we met with Captain Louis Skrmetta who runs Ship Island Excursions out of Gulfport, Mississippi. His grandfather came to the US from Croatia in 1904, and began working as an oyster fisherman, now an endangered endeavor. From that background arose the family business of ferrying people out to West Ship Island, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, about an hours boat ride south of Gulfport.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading