The March for Science celebrates the role science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives insight into the world. Those gathering will call for science to uphold the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
Science serves all of us. It protects our air and water, preserves our planet, saves lives with medical treatments, creates new industries, puts food on our tables, educates the next generation, and safeguards our future.
"Scientific research is essential to helping us understand and respond to the effects of climate change and plan for its impacts on people, communities and wildlife. The public benefit of sound science is immeasurable. Yet science is being attacked by those who don’t like or don’t agree with what we’re learning," according to Jamie Rappaport Clark with Defenders of Wildlife.
There will be Marches for Science on Earth Day with Rick DuBois and Kevin Gustavson representing Oklahoma at the big one in Washington, D.C. Here in Ottawa County we will Bike and our Fun Walk, will be a March if we put each foot down with a bit more vigor, understanding it will take a lot of science to figure out exactly how to fix Tar Creek and our surroundings.
Creating the route for the bike ride is not hard. Historic and environmental landmarks in Commerce, OK and a good portion of the Tar Creek Superfund site will be seen by the riders. It takes time to decide what to choose and what has to be left out of the 2 wheeled tour. Working with River Sturgess, an NEO College student volunteering for the second year on the bike ride, we had to include a bit of time on River Street near Mickey Mantle's childhood home.
There is a lot to see on a tour, but on a bicycle there is time to really look, easy to stop and take time to wonder, how on earth could this have happened in Oklahoma? How could industrial practices use and spit out a hunk of our state with a bunch of it ruined Quapaw tribal land? Here it is 100 years after the mining kicked into gear and down many roads are fields full of chat with some piled high enough to feel like mountains made of tiny grains of what looks like sand. Sand that we know now is loaded with metals, some precious, some known as rare earth minerals, many toxic to our environment and to human health.
I wanted to take a photo of a blue heron standing regally in a water filled subsidence. He was so tall, only feet away from us, but too shy to stay put, but had we been on our bikes, we could have gotten that shot. As he flew, we hoped he would find a safer home.
I have heard people speak with fear about encounters with "junk yard dogs" but I met some dogs that might meet that description this week and found them calm and quiet. But in preparation for the Recycle Tar Creek Bike Ride, we have assurances from a business that their dogs will be sequestered during our passing, to ease old fears by our riders.
There are miles of piles and sinkholes and damaged land on the tour, but there are improved lands, too, fields that are growing grass again and there will be more in the future if EPA and DEQ continue to fund the Quapaw Tribe's efforts. Children are outside playing in neighborhoods in Commerce with grass growing in their yards, yards that had contaminated soils removed years ago.
There have been scientific studies on the effects of living in a greener environment, decreasing subjects' heart rates, reducing stress and even increasing literacy scores. The work on Tar Creek and this superfund site is not complete and can be. We need teams of scientists of all sorts to keep it up, and get 'r done. It was caused from mining ore, which though they might have looked like a piles of rocks cleaning it up will require science but it won't need to be Rocket Science.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim