Monday, December 14, 2009

Living with the Land

I'm a New Orleanian. A relatively recent one as my maternal German family only arrived here in New Orleans from German around the 1850s. My father's family was 1700's from Spain and Scotch-Irish from before the American Revolution. But my mother drug him to New Orleans.

You may have heard about a little event and its aftermath called Katrina. Katrina was a terrible storm. But I was here and we survived only to have the man made levees and drainage canals and shipping canals built and maintained by the Corps of Engineers fail and flood our home. We floated bicycles and ourselves out on air mattresses and then rode to dry land were we were, after a day on the side of the Interstate and under the guns (literally) of what passed for law and order, rescued by family.

This makes what is said about this place and why we should or shouldn't live here something I can at least have an opinion about.

Today the Huffington Post published an article highlighting just how unnatural the aftermath of Katrina was for us.

The real problem with the Corps of Engineers is that they are run by as an arm of the miltary and they are (primarily) engineers. I have nothing against engineers as people or as a profession. But engineers who work rearranging and controlling the natural landscape need to work closely with other scientists who specialize in understanding how the natural landscape works. Geologists and Coastal Scientists have been saying FOR DECADES that the Corps approach was onesided and not working with Nature. Katrina showed the flaws in their mechanism. We need to learn from this and begin to undo what the Corps has done.

For too long the people of South Lousisana have assumed that those making the decisions were making good decisions. We know better now. We watch many things more closely. We're learning. New Orleans PostKatrina was the canary in the coal mine for our future. We've had our "awakening". I think there are many things that we have done technologically across the globe that will have to be rethought and undone. I'm sure there are examples in your backyard. Pay attention. It's not all about CO2 levels. There's lots more. The Web of Life is rich and complex.

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