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It Can Be Done

General Robert Van Antwerp, chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers, recently stated that “New Orleans can no longer be protected from hurricane storm surges” and that “half of Louisiana will be under water by 2100.”

Back off, man. I’m a scientist. The latest research indicates that sea level will rise at most 1 to 1.3 meters in the next century. At below left is what that ~1 meter of sea level rise looks like on a map. [Source: University of Arizona Environmental Studies Lab Sea Level Rise Viewer]  While New Orleans will be affected, I’d hardly call that half of Louisiana.

Louisiana - 1 meter Sea Level Rise New England - 1 meter Sea Level Rise

Now take a close look at the picture on the right. While New Orleans will be affected, so will the entire northeastern seaboard including beloved New York City and our nation’s capital. I dare General van Antwerp to go up to Washington D.C. and say it cannot be protected. A word that comes to mind is “pilloried.”

If we are the most awesome country on the planet, why can we not accomplish what the Dutch have?  So, don’t say it can’t be done, just admit you are not the one to do it.

And then former New Orleans Recovery Czar Ed Blakely’s pronouncement that New Orleans “isn’t likely” to be around 100 years from now because the Mississippi River and another hurricane/flood would “wipe New Orleans off the map.”  I agree with him to a certain extent about some of his other points on New Orleans’s recovery and how it is plagued by racial distrust, corruption, apathy and inertia.  Blakely is no climatologist, however, and should have stopped there. Besides, how can you take seriously a man who had a church razed “with the statement that God was angry at [its parishioners] for not repairing the church in a more timely fashion?”

New Orleans can recover and be protected from storm surges.  It requires a monumental feat of engineering that can then be applied to other American coastal cities when their time comes.  More than that, it requires honest folks who have a clear scientific and sociopolitical understanding of the situation and possess the nuts to ask for help.  Not those who blindly and singlehandedly take on monumental projects, make asinine decisions based on shoddy research (or for personal gain) and express sour grapes on their way out.  It can be done.

Also read:
Richard | Ed Blakely: so close, and yet …
Cliff | Don’t be mad at Ed Blakely. Be mad at yourself.

4 comments… add one
  • Ian Turton November 4, 2009, 6:28 PM

    While I can’t be bothered to go and find the census data is it possible that half the population of Louisiana lives that close to the sea?

    Also is it not a well known fact that Washington DC (as well as London, and many other capital cities) will be under water before 2050?

  • Editilla~New Orleans Ladder November 4, 2009, 8:45 PM

    Oh Maitri!
    You so Rock On.
    Yes. Thank you very much.

  • Sandy Rosenthal November 4, 2009, 9:17 PM

    Good point! And ever since our Army Corps saw a spectacular failure of its levee system, the Corps has continued to describe south Louisiana and New Orleans as “unique” when in fact 55% of the nation’s population lives in counties protected by levees. And 39 of America’s 50 largest cities lie partly on floodplains.

  • Bob Plankers November 6, 2009, 12:07 AM

    Though when I think of Louisiana it’s not of any parts that will be above water. Half by area? No. Half by other measures (economic, etc.)? Maybe.

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