Friday, March 30, 2012

The Floodgates are Open

In class we talked about how it is unrealistic to think that people living along major waterways like the Mississippi should still think about being nomadic people, moving with the water. I agree that society has moved past this point and people are tied to areas where they've spent most of their lives. However, in areas where natural disasters are frequent and extremely destructive, such as New Orleans, I can't help thinking how much less heartbreak and struggle those people would have if they relocated to somewhere where they would not have to worry about nature all the time (like the Chicago suburbs!). The New York Times recently had an article about how flooding is only expected to get worse in areas where people live near sea level, specifically Florida, Louisiana, California, New York, and New Jersey. They say that flooding used to be a rare occurrence, but could now start happening every few years. There are 3.7 million Americans that live in these danger zones.

Climate Central, a New Jersey organization, has come up with this really cool interactive feature where you can put in your zip code and then find out what the flooding projection looks like for that place. I clicked on New Orleans and it came up saying that 72.5% of the population, 69.2% of the houses, and 74% of the acreage are below 1 ft above sea level. Then it says that there is "Over 1 in 6 chance sea level rise + storm surge + tide will overtop +1ft by 2020." This year seemed a good long way in the distance when I first read it, but in actuality, that's only 8 years from now! This means that a huge amount of New Orleans' population will be displaced again, and rebuilding will be a never-ending battle. This is more than an issue of people and their homes; this is a lesson in caring for the environment. Climate change is only going to make things worse for everyone, and people in these places are prime examples of mother nature's wrath at the way we have treated her.

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