In the United States, there are over one thousand places where past recklessness and environmental degradation are so extreme, they have officially been declared superfund sites. These sites supposedly became the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The United States’ worst superfund site, an old lead and zinc mining location called Tar Creek, is right here in my home state of Oklahoma. More specifically, it is in the town of Picher, Oklahoma. Over the course of many years, the area has faced lead poisoning, massive ground cave-ins, and both state and federal pressure to put profit over people. The citizens have been fighting to protect themselves and their families for decades. Through my research, I hope to shed some light on a place far too many people know nothing about.
As I am currently heading into my third year at the University of Oklahoma as a dual major in Environmental Sustainability and International Studies, it is clear I am captivated by conversations about our planet and its people. An Earth recognized and appreciated for its incredible beauty is my absolute ideal. I often catch myself thinking about the world as a sort-of utopia where every person is in a position to breathe pure air, drink clean water, eat wholesome and natural food, and walk on solid ground. Unfortunately, this “All You Need is Love” Beatles or Bob Marley type wonderland of peace is not our reality. These things are basic means of survival; yet, people all over the planet are constantly suffering without them. Humans are experiencing disasters, increasing changes in climate, and injustice from the leadership meant to defend our human right to a safe environment. Going into this project, I will be exploring theories of vulnerability, inequity, community action and agency, and environmental safety as a human right.