HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Louisiana is shrinking as...

Sat Aug 10, 2013, 02:23 PM

Louisiana is shrinking as Climate Change softens up the already-vulnerable Gulf coast

[font size="4"]This will only Get Worse[/font]


"I revel in every moment I'm out on the beaches, the bayous, the ponds," says Al Duvernay, 61, a life-long Louisianan. A retired oil industry worker, Duvernay now volunteers for efforts to rebuild the land sinking under the waves, a retreat he has seen firsthand over the course of a lifetime spent on the Mississippi River Delta. "Another part of me is compelled to come back here, because I know it is all going away."

In the past eight decades, Louisiana has lost 1,880 square miles of coastal marshes, or an area about the size of Manhattan every year. With another hurricane season upon us, it is land that Louisiana and the nation can ill afford to lose. The same threat of lost barrier islands and wetlands stalks more than half of the coastal properties of the continental United States, extending from Maine to Texas. But here in southeastern Louisiana, it's at its worst.

USA TODAY traveled to this place where the Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico as the sixth stop in a year-long series to explore places where climate change is changing lives.

"The sea is rising and the land is sinking," says Louisiana's state climatologist, Barry Keim, based at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. "The two together mean that wetlands are disappearing here at unprecedented rates worldwide." Add in the threat of more powerful hurricanes spurred by climate change, Keim says, "and you have to worry about the past repeating itself here."

"Louisiana is in many ways, one of the best examples of starting to see some of the near-term implications of climate change," says environmental policy expert Jordan Fischbach, of the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Pittsburgh, part of the team that last year developed tools for the state to decide what coastal restoration projects to pursue. "In some ways, I feel like it is the canary in the coal mine because they are seeing effects that change people's day-to-day lives."

2 replies, 2133 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Louisiana is shrinking as Climate Change softens up the already-vulnerable Gulf coast (Original post)
Bill USA Aug 2013 OP
chervilant Aug 2013 #1
Igel Aug 2013 #2

Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Sat Aug 10, 2013, 02:42 PM

1. Oh, but doncha know?

Snowden! Greenwald! Cesca! Embassies! Syria! Weiner! Royal baby!

Our priorities are so f***ed up! I remember screaming at my television as I watched "intrepid news crews" filming the hot, hungry, THIRSTY displaced denizens of New Orleans after Katrina. Like broadcasting the news was so much more important than repurposing their transportation to carry food and WATER to the Superdome!

These days, so many of the people I encounter are stressed, depressed, angry, resentful, afraid and/or resigned. It's the resignation that most hurts my heart. When you've given up, everything seems hopeless.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to chervilant (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 10, 2013, 09:39 PM

2. The problem is NOLA.

To prevent flooding, levees and channels were built. Channels are dredged to prevent silting.

The land's been subsiding for millennia. It's just that the Mississippi's always provided muck to raise the level of the marshes during floods. Until it was necessary to protect NOLA.

You can have one or the other.

More recently--as in "during much of the 20th century"--it's become recognized that the Mississippi is ready to change its channel entirely. One or two decent floods and the Mississippi would no longer flow through New Orleans. It's changed its channel regularly over the millennia. But because of NOLA, it can't be allowed to change.

The climatologist's wording is chosen very carefully. We're seeing not the results of climate change but the *implications* of climate change. The difference is that NOLA and the wetlands around it are set up to demonstrate how climate change will affect coastal regions--the entire process is playing out in an accelerated way. The primary problem still isn't rising sea levels or increased hurricane activity. The primary problem is still what the CoE and others have done to protect, at the sacrifice of the Mississippi Delta, NOLA.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread