Wednesday, September 07, 2005

the dangerous allure of the coast, and the importance of new orleans

We Americans do like living on the coast -- but with the steady threat of hurricanes, is it wise to be there?

A couple of interesting tidbits from the linked article include the fact that the population per square mile in the coastal US rose from 180 to 275 from 1960 to 1994; those counties include some of the fastest-growing population centers in the country.

Now, here's what happen when people try to do their jobs honestly:
"In 1998, Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Michael L. Davis tried to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from rubber-stamping casino applications without studying the impact dredging would have on marshes that shelter wildlife, purify drinking water and help prevent flooding. This angered Lott, then Senate majority leader, who had recently flown to Las Vegas in a casino executive's jet and had raised $100,000 for Republicans at a casino-industry fundraiser.

Lott got the moratorium lifted, then he got the Army to launch an investigation of Davis. No wrongdoing was found, but Davis was removed from Gulf Coast permitting issues."
And finally, a Duke University coastal specialist noted the expectation of all of us that a technological fix exists for the problems of hurricanes, flooding and coastal erosion: '"It's almost unpatriotic to say we can't stop nature."

The Importance of New Orleans
This interesting article refutes Denny Hastert's suggestion that we just bulldoze New Orleans. Even disregarding the irresistable charm of the city as a tourist and music hub, the fact is NOLA is a key port on the Mississippi River and you can't have a port without people to live and work there. Maybe some of the lowlying areas aren't the best to live in -- but we need New Orleans.