Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

New Orleans' biggest problem: not enough wetlands

Jennifer Moses, writing in Sunday’s Washington Post, is complaining that, well, I’m not sure what she is complaining about.

Still Drowning in New Orleans

Apparently, New Orleans is still a mess so Ms. Moses is lamenting that “...nothing close to (the promised) $85 billion has been spent”. Further, she seems bothered that “.most members of Congress -- 87 percent of the House and 70 percent of the Senate -- haven't bothered to come on down to the Big Easy at all.” But her biggest complaint seems to be that President Bush isn’t acknowledging that “..while hurricanes make the front pages, an even more insidious natural disaster is already well underway[.] For decades, Louisiana's wetlands …… have been disappearing at the rate of two football fields an hour, amounting to 1 million acres over the past half-century washing into the sea, victim of the human penchant for tinkering with the landscape and exploiting it for profit.”

Well, which is it? Is it a natural occurrence – as in an “insidious natural disaster” -or is it the byproduct of some “human penchant” She notes that this has been going on for fifty years but the direct object of her scorn is apparently President Bush’s failure to grab hold of this cause in the last four months. But if, as she writes, the plan to reverse the wetland losses has been floating around for years then that would seem to indicate that this matter has been suffering from more than just a president’s indifference - the locals don’t seem to have bought into it either

New Orleans is below sea-level so without that “human penchant for tinkering” there is no New Orleans. And while wetlands are often a legitimate matter for concern, surely Ms. Moses can appreciate that putting more land underwater is just not going to resonate as a top priority in the wake of Katrina.

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