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Man, Not Katrina, Killed New Orleans

danarhea

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Saw a program on the Science Channel last night that was a real eye opener. New Orleans was created by the French, who liked the area, despite its propensity for flooding. Over the years, levees where built up, but the Mississippi River had its way with the city from time to time.

In 1927, the Mississippi River went over its banks and killed scores of people from Minnesota all the way to New Orleans. That marked the beginning of the effort to tame the Mississippi. It was also during this time that the mass migration of blacks to the north began, because many were being forced to work as slave labor during the period after 1927 when the Mississippi was being bottled up.

In the New Orleans area, the Mississippi was diverted and walled off. That was the biggest mistake, because the Delta wetlands which protected New Orleans from the wrath of hurricanes depended on yearly flooding to produce the sediment deposits that created the wetlands. Without that yearly Delta flood, the Gulf of Mexice began reclaiming land that had been built through these up over a period of many thousands of years. Without this buffer zone, it was only a matter of time before a "big one" would take New Orleans out.

100 years ago, there were 6000 square miles of wetlands to buffer New Orleans from nature's wrath. The day Katrina hit, there were only 2000 square miles of this land left.
 

Tashah

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I respectively disagree.

Granted, the ability of man to shape the environment greatly contributed to the scope of the hurricane disaster, but this does not infer that one can simply exculpate Katrina. Using the logic above, one could also say that man was mainly responsible for the Great Chicago Fire because of the extensive use of wood as a construction material (a suspect practice in any era).

There are many unindicted co-conspirators in the Katrina catastrophe. Lack of engineering foresight. Special interest groups. River commerce. Population expansion. The nearsighted Federal government. The corrupt political climate of both Louisiana and New Orleans. Ignoring the laws of probability and statistical analysis. These highlight merely a few of the contributary causes.

Although the actions of mankind do indeed exacerbate some disasters in hindsight, this unwitting complicity is not the defining catalyst or true causal agent. Probably the most one can say in this regard, is that the law of unintended consequences remains a valid phenomena.

BTW... if you research federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers in regards to New Orleans and the Louisiana delta, you will discover that this funding was habitually shortchanged beginning with the Carter administration.


 
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