Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Consequence of Inaction

Here is something to that is difficult to digest. This prediction was stripped from the pages of a special report, titled "Last Stand", in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, dated March 3rd. No, it is not a new line of thinking for most of us living in South Louisiana, but it is still a compelling prediction, no less. If we continue to waste time, if we continue to ignore the impending situation along our coast, while our leadership plays politics with our future, then we will certainly sacrifice to the sea this resource-rich and culturally-significant region.

Unless, within 10 years, the state begins creating more wetlands than it is losing -- a task that will require billions of dollars in complex and politically sensitive projects -- scientists said a series of catastrophes could begin to unfold over the next decade.

In 10 years, at current land-loss rates:

-- Gulf waves that once ended on barrier island beaches far from the city could be crashing on levees behind suburban lawns.

-- The state will be forced to begin abandoning outlying communities such as Lafitte, Golden Meadow, Cocodrie, Montegut, Leeville, Grand Isle and Port Fourchon.

-- The infrastructure serving a vital portion of the nation's domestic energy production will be exposed to the encroaching Gulf.

-- Many levees built to withstand a few hours of storm surge will be standing in water 24 hours a day -- and facing the monster surges that come with tropical storms.

-- Hurricanes approaching from the south will treat the city like beachfront property, crushing it with forces like those experienced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Katrina.

The entire nation would reel from the losses. The state's coastal wetlands, the largest in the continental United States, nourish huge industries that serve all Americans, not just residents of southeastern Louisiana. Twenty-seven percent of America's oil and 30 percent of its gas travels through the state's coast, serving half of the nation's refinery capacity, an infrastructure that few other states would welcome and that would take years to relocate. Ports along the Mississippi River, including the giant Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana in LaPlace, handle 56 percent of the nation's grain shipments. And the estuaries now rapidly turning to open water produce half of the nation's wild shrimp crop and about a third of its oysters and blue claw crabs. Studies show destruction of the wetlands protecting the infrastructure serving those industries would put $103 billion in assets at risk.

Yeh, I think we'd be well-advised to consider taking real action now.

Matt 5:16

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