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The Wilderness Society

It's been more than five years since the epic oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico.

The BP-owned oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, near the Mississippi Delta and spilled an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next 87 days until it was capped. You probably saw all the awful photos of storks and dolphins dripping slick with black sludge.

"Active cleanup" efforts officially ended in April 2014; to hear BP tell it, "there is no data that suggests there are any long-term population-level impacts to any species." But that's in part because we simply don't have comparable data for a disaster this size.


So here's what $50 billion in cleanup costs and fines looks like today, according to the Gulf beachgoers of Instagram:


1. Walking barefoot on hot sand is bad enough without having to avoid the tar balls, too.

Just a "little" tar ball is all. #beach #tarball #oilspillremnants #igdaily #igaddict #gross #fuckyouBP #BPoilspill #donttouchthese #notmyhands #beachproblems #lookslikeagiantturd
A photo posted by Paul Irizarry (@that_kid_paulie) on


2. This low tide smells like sulfur.

Residuals from BP oil spill in the Gulf? Last night and this am at low tide this black "sticky" stuff accumulates with the tides. Will they hold up their reparations or bail out again? Not cool. #BP #bpoil #BPrefinery #bpoilspill #theGulf #AlligatorPoint #FL #StickySituation #CorporateEthics
A photo posted by Keeli Crewe (@keelicrewe) on


3. Well. Have fun sifting through the sand, I guess...

#scene #BP #itsclean #tarballs #oilspill #pcolabeach #lookatit #killingourbeachfromunderneath
A photo posted by Cameron Patterson's Perception (@pattersonsperception) on



4. It's kind of like mud! Just with oil instead of water.

Can anyone spot the sand in this oil. #bpoilspill
A photo posted by Me'le'sa (@moonlite_) on



5. Another tar ball! This one was found more than 300 miles from the Louisiana border in Port Aransas, Texas — lest you thought the effects of the oil spill were contained to a small part of the Gulf.

Tar balls. Natural oil seepage, oil tanker crashes and oil rig spills deposit oil into the Gulf of Mexico and over time this oil solidifies and washes up on shore as #tarballs. These tar balls are found all along the beaches from Louisiana to Mexico and are as common as sea weed and sea shells nowadays. What are we doing to our planet? Let alone our animals and food source? We need to wake up and realize that oil is a fossil fuel .. It won't be there forever so eventually we won't have it to fuel our lives.. It's past time we switched our energy source to something more earth friendly instead of something earth deadly. #ourworld #planet #earth #oil #petroleum #beach #sand #nature #animals #oneworld #energy #fossilfuel #oilspill
A photo posted by Timothy Knapp (@love2evol) on



6. As for this little sludge-streaked beach? It's all the way in Cuba.

malecon #cuba #bpoilspill #petrolio #dontswimhere
A photo posted by @sanchezjjose on


Sure, maybe we can't prove that this is all BP's oil, but we know that the immediate impact was felt in Havana and that there's some contention going on right now about further drilling off the Cuban coast.

While the "official" cleanup efforts might be over, it's clear there's still plenty of work left to do.

"There is nothing to suggest other than that the Gulf is a resilient body of water that has bounced back strongly," a spokesperson from BP said. "The Gulf has not been damaged anywhere near the degree some people feared it would have in the midst of the spill."

Sure, the oceans are resilient, and there's so much about them that we still don't understand. But the aftermath is more than just a few unsightly tar balls or some oil streaks uncovered in the tide. The Deepwater Horizon disaster was unprecedented in scale, and it's impossible to predict the lasting effects of an oil spill of this magnitude. All that oil has to go somewhere, right?

In the meantime, BP has already returned to the scene of the crime and is back to drilling the Gulf of Mexico. And now they have their sights set on the Great Australian Bight as well.

But there's still a chance to stop them and to prevent future dangerous drilling to occur in the Arctic Ocean or any of these other important U.S. wildlife reservations. You can also support any of the charities who are continuing in the Gulf recovery efforts.

Because it's not just about the beaches — it's about the future of the planet.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

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Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

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