Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Oh Katrina Why Must You Punish Our Nearsightedness

I'm not an environmental wack job, but I do respect nature and its violent potential. The NYTs editorial page makes a good case today that the U.S. Senate and New Orleans' politicians and planners didn't have that same due deference.
An immediate priority is for the Senate to restore some $70 million that the House, in a singular act of poor timing, slashed from the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for the New Orleans district. The cuts could hurt the corps' ability to rebuild levees protecting the city. Meanwhile, the city itself must attend to a pumping system that is much in need of upgrading.
The basic gist of their argument: Nature pushes back.
At the same time, there must also be an honest recognition of the fact that no amount of engineering - levees, sea walls, pumping systems, satellite tracking systems - can fully bring nature to heel. Indeed, the evidence is indisputable that systematic levee-building along the Mississippi upstream of New Orleans has blocked much of the natural flow of silt into the delta. That, in turn, has caused the delta to subside and made the city and its environs even more vulnerable to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which itself has been rising.

Upstream levee-building has also had the effect of turning a sluggish river into a fire hose, helping to destroy marshes and barrier islands that once provided some protection. The steady destruction of coastal wetlands by residential development and years of oil and gas drilling hasn't helped much either. The combination of subsiding land and rising seas has put the Mississippi Delta about three feet lower than it was 100 years ago.
This isn't to say that most of the destruction could have been avoided, but it certainly could have been ameliorated.

Why does the Kyoto Protocol keep knocking at my cranium's consciousness?

Oh yeah, blithe political indifference to that bitch, Mother Nature.

President Bush take note, she, unlike Mrs. Bush, doesn't give ultimatums.