All it cost was New Orleans

"Progress" destroyed the natural defenses

Craig Gulliot lays out the damage.

The flooding in New Orleans that began on August 30, 2005, "was really an unnatural disaster," said John Day, a distinguished professor emeritus at the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of the Coast and Environment in Baton Rouge.

"We spent the last century doing almost everything we could to destroy our coast in all sorts of ways—putting levees on the Mississippi River, slicing thousands of kilometers of canals, massive oil and gas production."

For example, Day says, the canals that connect the city to the coast allow storm surges to travel inland, bringing salt water that damages the land.

One such canal, known as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, was built in the mid-1960s to be a 76-mile (122-kilometer) shortcut between the Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans.

Hailed as an engineering marvel at the time, the canal is rarely used today.

Before the record hurricane season of 2005, salt water brought inland by the canal was fingered as the culprit in the death of thousands of acres of cypress swamp, a natural buffer against storms.

And when Katrina hit, levee failures on the canal allowed water to pour into St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans East (read "New Orleans Flooded in Wake of Hurricane Katrina" [August 2005]).

"Had those cypress swamps been in place, the levees probably wouldn't have failed," Day said.

I am not so radically environmental to demand that human activity is evil, but I do think we should take a much closer look at how things exist before making any radical changes. I'm heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and Aldo Leopold. I believe very firmly that we can live in balance, rather than ripping out the earth and slapping down some box that doesn't fit.

Hat tip to Cypress Nemeton (I miss the trees too).

Additional Technorati Tags

— NeoWayland

Posted: Thu - August 31, 2006 at 05:44 AM  Tag

 ◊  ◊   ◊  ◊ 

Random selections from NeoWayland's library

Pagan Vigil "Because LIBERTY demands more than just black or white"
© 2005 - 2009 All Rights Reserved