Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Unsafe [and] Destructive"

I recently overheard someone say if the levees in would be rebuilt in Louisiana, then that Gulf state would return to normal. Normal
didn't include development as humans have long known it. Rivers have lives, and those lives include building banks and overflowing them.

Over a one and one-half centuries ago, Louisiana's state engineer, A.D. Wooldridge wrote:
"I find myself forced to the conclusion that entire dependence on the leveeing system is not only unsafe for us, but I think will be destructive to those who shall come after us."
The Christian Science Monitor cites Mr. Woolridge, as well as his predecessor, in its article in today's issue. [This article also conains links to the Monitor's 3-part series on Katrina's effects on states in the Gulf.]

No native of our South and no Dutch boy, either, I am ignorant of low lands. Levees sounded like an idea that would work. However, after reading "side-comments" about New Orleans in novels, I began to think of it like a Venice, Italy, a city which is always fighting rising waters and living on borrowed time in its fight.

The fact is that levees are not--have not been since 1927, when the idea followed the worst flood in history up to then--good ideas. Levees prevent banks from growing. They "raise the river and allow the land to sink," as Mr. Peter Spotts reports in the same article.

While I remain ignorant about what can be done for the states abutting the Mississippi delta region, I am more convinced that humans need to be more wary about what we do to the environment and more concerned about how what we do will affect the environment in the long term as well as the short.

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