Communicating Science about the Gold King Mine Spill and Water Quality in the Animas River
a. How have geological, biological and human factors created and exacerbated acid mine drainage and water quality issues in the Animas River?
b. What ecological and human health threats might be associated with the Gold King Mine spill: initially, currently and in the future?
c. What actions can be taken to improve the water quality in Cement Creek and the Animas River watershed.
d. What is the role of science in making policy decisions?
Link to My River Spill Interview:
What ecological and human health threats might be associated with the Gold King Mine spill: initially, currently and in the future? There have been and will continue to be several human health threats and ecological threats associated with the Gold King Mine Spill. Several elements and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. Each of these three examples can have horrible negative health effects. Mercury can cause nerve damage, brain damage, and organ failure if exposed to large amounts. High exposure levels to lead can cause convulsions, coma, and death. Arsenic can cause miscarriages, DNA damage, and brain damage. While the levels of each of these metals was incredibly low, it is still good to know the possible health effects that the chemicals in the river could potentially cause. Ecologically, this tainted water can be absorbed by nearby plants, thereby contaminating any animals that may eat the plants.
What is the role of science in making policy decisions?Science is an important part of policy making, as it can help policymakers understand environmental disasters such as the Gold King Mine Spill. It is important to scientifically understand any impacts that environmental disasters can cause, because they can either be very large or very small. Understanding basic science concepts can help policymakers in other decisions as well. It can help them decide on which research programs to fund, which bills or amendments to pass, and how their actions can impact the environment.
To what degree do scientists have an obligation to communicate scientific concepts and data to the public in an understandable manner?In most cases, the general public does not have a good understanding of basic or complex scientific concepts. In matters of public interest, such as the Gold King Mine Spill, it is important for people to understand the facts. If the public does not have an understanding of science in cases like this, they can over exaggerate the situation and make it seem worse than it really is. However, some of the scientific concepts can be very hard to understand, so it is important to be able to relay the information in an understandable way.
How has your understanding of scientific knowledge and/or the process of doing science changed throughout the semester as you’ve examined and manipulated data collected by professional scientists and performed analogous experiments to collect and analyze your own data?My understanding of the scientific process has increased greatly throughout the semester. Through performing lab experiments at FLC, I have learned how the experimentation process works. You have to be very thorough and precise. You also have to pay close attention to what is happening during the process so the results can be detailed.I have also learned about examining and analysing through using data that was collected by professional scientists. Through analysing the data that the EPA collected, I learned how to turn data spreadsheets into graphs that present the data in a simple and easy to understand way.