Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina

The news has been extremely depressing lately. Katrina, like the Tsunami and the Mumbai rains have left the poor and the helpless even more so. The hardest hit sections of New Orleans and Mississippi are the poorest.

It is a sad fact that it takes tragedies like these for people to ask the tough questions.

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"Years of flood control engineering, inspired by the need for a major city and port in the oil and gas-rich Mississippi delta, have altered the natural landscape of the region beyond recognition.

Without regular river floods to feed the swampy delta with precious silt and nutrients, vast swathes of Louisiana's coastal wetlands have disappeared in the past 75 years. Sprawling coastal wetlands can bear the brunt of a hurricane better than the concrete passageways of a modern city. The US Geological Survey calls the wetlands a "natural buffer" in a high-risk area. Plans to stop further erosion have run aground in Congress." ...BBC

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"What will be left when the waters recede or are pumped away will be a city that has been inundated not only with water but with a witches' brew of petroleum byproducts, industrial and household chemicals and human waste."...NY Times

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"People in southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have learned a hard lesson: There's a price to be paid for taming the Mississippi River.

Decades of flood-control efforts to protect New Orleans and other places, combined with the region's huge oil and gas investments, have contributed heavily to the destruction of coastal wetlands that can help tame the fury of storms like Hurricane Katrina, say scientists and government officials"...USA Today

I just wonder... If all the facts were known, would Mississippians have allowed casinos to be built on coastal wetlands? Would Mumbaities have allowed plastic bags to clog the drainage ? Would Indonesians have allowed mangroves to be destroyed ?

Quote of the day
"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin"...Charles Darwin

5 comments:

Chris said...

Yes, good points. It's a case where the gradual rebellion of nature eventually catches up, in a catastrophic way (in this case). But I'm wondering whether storms like Katrina will start to become more frequent, now that the oceans seem to be warming (giving stength to such weather systems). In other words, which region of our country is NEXT on the list? Galvaston? Houston? The eastern seaboard?

There's concern that Katrina, and the other strong storms we've had recently, are a sign of one effect of global warning. What do you think of that? Here's a story I read on this, recently:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/01/147233

The Darwin quote is also very fitting.

Which aid agency do you suppose is most in need of donations now? Red Cross?

One More Reason said...

Chris,

The company I work for, is matching employee donations 100%. Their recommendation was either the red cross or the salvation army. So I will be donating to these orgs. The last I checked their servers were very slow due to high traffic.

Thanks for the link. Let me check it out

Jennifer said...

Did either of you hear there were several small earthquakes in CA yesterday? Apparently one was a 4, which isn't so small. I heard a news blip about it, but then I can't find it anywhere, so maybe I dreamed it. Anyway, I'm thinking that the tsunami may have caused more damage to the continental plates than we realize, which may be contributing to the hurricanes and earthquakes. What do you think?

One More Reason said...

Chris,

There has been a lot of debate about hurricanes and global warming lately. Folks on both sides of the political aisle have been bashing each other.

One thing is for sure. The 30 degree ocean temperature in the Gulf coast is contributing to this severe hurricane activity

Of all the articles I have read so far , this one is highly recommended
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=181

[..]
Due to this semi-random nature of weather, it is wrong to blame any one event such as Katrina specifically on global warming - and of course it is just as indefensible to blame Katrina on a long-term natural cycle in the climate.
[..]
Scenarios for future global warming show tropical SST rising by a few degrees, not just tenths of a degree That is the important message from science. What we need to discuss is not what caused Katrina, but the likelyhood that global warming will make hurricanes even worse in future.

One More Reason said...

Jennifer,

I haven't been able to find information on the links between the Tsunami and current hurricanes. I will keep looking