Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fighting Mother Nature - A Losing Proposition

Shorter version of post:

New Orleans = Atlantis

Conclusion: Let it go

If you are a scientist, and especially if you are a geologist, it quickly becomes apparent that the physical laws that govern weather, landforms, oceans, etc. are not well understood and are mostly ignored by humans. Human beings tend to have very short attention spans and very short frames of reference. People are mostly interested in the here and now. They could care less about what is going to happen in 50 years or even in 10 years. This is really true in the US where the overall savings rate is less than 2% of personal income, and credit card debt has skyrocketed. We don't care about global warming, social security and medicare solvency, and peak oil because all of the consequences of these things are beyond our "give a shit" time span.

However, let me say this to all of those people who are talking about how we are going to rebuild New Orleans. Don't ask for any of my money to do that! You might as well go out into the ocean and dump the money overboard.

That city has been sinking into the Gulf of Mexico since the first homestead was built there. The geologists and meteorologists have been telling you for 30 (or more) years that the tragedy that just happened was a certainty - the only uncertainty was when. If the idea is to rebuild the city in place and just build higher levies with bigger pumps, I will tell you that this catastrophe will happen again, and it will be worse next time.

Anyway, kudos again to the Houston Chronicle for raising this important topic now before the political steam starts to build on what to do with N.O.

P.S. - I'm pretty sure that one of these days I will be writing a similar post about San Francisco. The destruction of that city, like N.O. is not an if, but a when.