The Wall Street Journal points to this report which is a must-read before drawing any conclusions about the disaster facing New Orleans. Note: For some reason, only part of this report is making it to the blogosphere. I urge you to read it all. It is an exhaustive special report by the New Orleans newspaper, The Times Picayune. You'll learn that there is not now nor was there ever a way to really protect New Orleans and the surrounding area from Katrina. Almost every effort to protect the city has resulted in actually increasing the risk. The bottom line is that the levees built all along the Mississippi River up to a thousand miles to the north of New Orleans down to those that surround the city today are in large part responsible for what we are seeing now.
The Mississippi River Delta, which used to extend well out into the Gulf of Mexico, harbored barrier islands, forests and marshes that all helped to protect the city to some degree and the area around the city to a large degree. That delta was formed over tens of thousands of years by mud and silt washed down the Mississippi River by its annual floods. When the Corps of Engineers began building levees in the 1800's to protect cities, towns and farmland from the river's annual flooding (at the insistence of those affected citizens and the politicians who represented them), the river lost trillions of tons of dirt and silt which it had used to build the delta. The sea began to reclaim its lost territory. Add to this the removal of water, oil and gas from beneath and the entire delta began to sink with no replenishment from above. The barrier islands shrank and the seawater killed off the marshes and forests. Billions of dollars have been spent in what, obviously, has been a futile effort to save the city from an unavoidable catastrophe. A catastrophe that everyone in a position of political power at the local, state and national level knew was inevitable and had so known for many years. Indeed, those involved in civil engineering, oil exploration, exploitation and refining, transportation, ports, engineering colleges, universities and anyone who read this newspaper's special report all knew that the disaster which confronts New Orleans today was unavoidable. A storm the size of Katrina, or larger, with a glancing blow or a direct hit from a smaller storm on New Orleans would destroy the city and there was little, if anything, that could be done to protect it. Our only saving grace is that a gigantic amount of planning and money had gone into the rescue and recovery effort that the authorities knew would someday be necessary. We are seeing that effort now.
The question asked by The Times Picayune very early in Part I of its report is, "Should the city even be rebuilt?", because the disaster is bound to be repeated; it's only a matter of time.
The long-term solution? Invade Canada. We need their dirt. We need to start removing dirt from Canada by the trillions of cubic yards and sending it down the Mississippi to replenish the delta. The United States has fought wars over taxation without representation (Revolution), economic strangulation (1812, Barbary Pirates), Manifest Destiny (Mexico), European meddling in our sphere of influence (Spain), to help our friends (WW I), annihilation avoidance (WW II, Gulf War I, Cold War, GWoT), and "there rather than here" (Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War II). So, why not fight a war over dirt? We could call it our Dirty War. The Canadians must give us their dirt or we must go and take it. (This post's title and this final paragraph are tongue-in-cheek so please save the hate messages for another time, like when I advocate the invasion of Venezuela or some other God forsaken land.)
TAGS: hurricane, Katrina, New Orleans, Mississippi Delta, levees