The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2010

BP Will Pay Claims on Oil Spill

If you didn't know there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you haven't been paying attention. But what you might not know is that someone is ready to take responsibility--at least financially. BP has announced that they are willing to contribute to clean-up efforts and will pay all claims to boot, as reported by How much money this will entail is still unknown. The spill, which has reached 130 miles by 70 miles, has the ability to impact animals, fisheries, beaches, boats and our aquatic eco-system, as it continues to gush oil into the ocean. Want to help out with the clean up? has listed organizations that are looking for volunteers. 

--Aurora Wingard

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Youngest On Everest: Busy Weekend

Team Romero had a busy weekend. They spent their first night at the North Col (phlog above) and climbed as high as Camp 2 (app. 27,450 feet) before returning to advanced base camp for a few days of rest. Jordan, the team reports, is "a tad tired and in need of sleep before we make the biggest climb in the world, but strong as expected."

Check out the team's Flickr page for photos of the weekend climbs. For more on Jordan, the 13-year-old attempting to become the youngest person to summit Everest and the Seven Summits, check out our April profile.

-- Jonah Ogles

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Green Trend Hits Fitness Centers

Can't get outside but want to break a sweat? Fitness centers nationwide are finally jumping on the green bandwagon, as reported by While the health club industry saw an overall increase in business last year, many are aiming to increase that even more--by tailoring to eco-conscious customers. From recycled treadmills, to green building practices, fitness centers are going the extra mile on the green track. Our personal favorite? Go Green Fitness, which connected 25 of their spin bikes to generators, so that members can check their heart rates and their wattage at the end of class. Hows that for recycled energy? 

--Aurora Wingard

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A Literary Archive of Rigs, Wrecks, and Spills

Picture 5 Outside has a history of covering big environmental disasters. To understand the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it helps to have an understanding of where it stands in the history of oil spills. That's not to say this list is a ranking of the worst spills in recent history. They're all different. They're all damaging. Here are five archived Outside stories that deal in some way with the Gulf of Mexico or past spills. Read them, if you want to bring the environmental talk around the water cooler to the next level.

5. Ready, Aim, Sushi, By Thayer Walker
If a shark doesn't kill you, shallow-water blackout or a giant propeller might. But the spearfishermen free­diving the oil rigs off Louisiana's coast don't let that get in the way of the hunt for fresh tuna.
Quote: The 3,800-plus production platforms that pincushion the Gulf of Mexico face a constant threat from hurricanes. In 2005, the most damaging season in the Gulf oil fields, Katrina and Rita destroyed 108 structures and caused more than 7.1 million gallons of oil to spill across southeast Louisiana. Still, Clasen, like many Gulf residents, accepts this dance of disaster as routine.

4.Slick, By Peter Maas
Alan Dershowitz, meet Steven Donziger. On behalf of 30,000 inhabitants of Ecuador's remote Oriente region, this New York lawyer is putting it to Big Oil. But will his multi-billion-dollar lawsuit establish a global precedent—or is he just looking for a scapegoat for one of the nastiest messes on earth?
Quote: The Frente, as it's known, is based in Lago Agrio, a gritty oil town of 35,000 in northeastern Ecuador's humid, jungly Oriente region, in a second-floor warren outfitted with furniture the Salvation Army might reject. As a gnat, the Frente measures success in humble terms René Descartes would understand: We survive, therefore we are. But something funny is happening on the way to the glorious defeats that would seem to be its destiny. The group has a fighting chance of winning a landmark environmental-damage lawsuit against Chevron, one that could cost the conglomerate an estimated $6 billion in cleanup expenses. The suit was brought by 48 Oriente inhabitants on behalf of 30,000 fellow residents of the oil-rich region—members of the Cofán, Secoya, and other tribes, as well as settlers who arrived in recent decades. The plaintiffs allege that, between 1964 and 1992, Texaco (which merged with Chevron in 2001) dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into an area the size of Rhode Island—a brew that allegedly included 18 million gallons of oil, nearly twice the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

3. The Captain Went Down with the Ship, By Daniel Coyle
PREMISE ONE: Eight years ago a drunk Joe Hazelwood piloted the Exxon Valdez into a reef.
Eight years ago Joe Hazelwood martyred himself out of pride.
After much suffering and introspection, Joe Hazelwood has found peace.
He's resolved absolutely nothing.
"Let's see if we can miss the reef this time," Joseph Hazelwood says to me. Then he laughs.

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Kids are Fatter in the "Stroke Belt"

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that kids in the Southeast states, referred to as the "Stroke Belt," are fatter than their U.S. peers in other regions. In 2007, 45 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds in Mississippi were overweight, and 22 percent were obese. Not shockingly, the states with the biggest weight problems were also associated with kids watching lots of TV and not partaking in much physical activity.

Oregon, by comparison, has the lowest obesity rates at ten percent, and was the only state to show significant decreases in overweight children during the duration the study between 2003 and 2007, according to Reuters.

So, what is Oregon doing right? We bet it has something to do with an active lifestyle. To learn how to raise healthy, happy offspring and avoid this disturbing obesity trend, check out our guide to raising active kids in the June issue.

-- Jennifer L. Schwartz

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