Groups planning ‘Climate Crisis’ day in Tulsa on Friday

Organizers of an event to bring more attention to what they call the “Climate Crisis” are hoping hundreds or more students walk out of their classes in Tulsa on Friday.
“If everyone pulls their weight, Friday’s strikes will be the biggest day of climate action yet on our home planet!” said founder Bill McKibben.
The event will be held at noon at the Guthrie Green in the Tulsa Arts District.
“There’s not a corner of the world that hasn’t been adversely impacted,” stated the notice. “In Oklahoma this includes recent catastrophic flooding and increased heat that is extending our summers, stressing wildlife and killing trees, extending the lifespan of disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes and ticks, and taxing our electric grid.”
The group even sent a letter to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and others on the city council.
“Good Evening City Councilors and Mayor Bynum,
I am Barbara VanHanken, representing Green Country Sierra Club group in Tulsa. We are part of the Oklahoma Chapter and national Sierra Club. We were founded in Tulsa in 1972 (1400 members) and naturalist John Muir founded national Sierra Club in 1892.
I want to speak to you about a few environmental issues happening in this area that I think need to be addressed.
Number one is that our changing climate poses a severe threat to both human well being and that of the many animals, plants and insects that inhabit our planet.
  • Today, we lack public recognition of climate change effects in Tulsa including more extreme rainstorms leading to extreme flooding, downtown heat effects are unchecked, air quality is unhealthy as reported by DEQ and American Lung Assoc. and lack of action to reduce single-use plastic containers.  These all contribute to Climate Change.
  • There is no doubt that we are in the midst of advancing climate change along with the rest of our planet. However, I have seen little action on the part of our city leaders to address this on a consistent basis, even though we have just survived an extreme flooding event of our own Arkansas River, again. We need to have a climate plan in place to act to prevent disasters with reductions of carbon output in our community. Also, I would hope that you will reconsider adding more barriers to the flow of the Arkansas river and not build low water dams. It is much cheaper to prevent a disaster than to respond to it.
Along with this disaster prevention is the restructuring of our protective levee systems.  We need to keep pressure on the Corps of Engineers to address this dangerous situation with urgent action.
  • Our Tulsa drinking water quality is under potential stress from the corporate poultry farm invasion that is causing polluted groundwater in NE Oklahoma.  Our historically pristine water source from Lake Spavinaw watershed area is adjacent to this influx of mega poultry farms. We must ensure that this watershed is protected from contamination for our future water needs. Again, it is cheaper to prevent a disaster than to respond to it.
  • We have an air quality problem that is causing health issues with residents and families in North Tulsa who are in the path of southern breezes that carry polluting air emissions from the west Tulsa refinery areas to their northside neighborhoods. We do not have adequate air monitoring in Tulsa to capture the true picture of what is happening here, just the reports from affected citizens. Can the city address the lack of this important monitoring measure to insure the health of our northside citizens?  We also have many reports from midtown residents about bad odors and poor air quality also coming from the refinery area to their neighborhood across the river.
I am a lifetime Tulsan and care about our future. We are on the right track to becoming a leading city in many ways, but we cannot unless we embrace the fact that climate change is active in Tulsa and that we can have a lasting affect by addressing the water quality, air quality and protecting our open and wild places in our urban center. We also need a robust recycling program city-wide that encourages the influx of businesses that could use our recycled products while bolstering our economy.
Thank you for this opportunity to address this important issue of climate change in Tulsa.”