posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 01:41 PM
Ever since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew through the Gulf States, the news media have aired numerous interviews with climatologists, "experts" in
the field of global climate change. Several things stood out in every one of these discussions on climate change. First, and foremost, climate
change is real. Climate change is coming and there doesn't seem to be anything that we can do about this. Certainly, we can recycle more, drive
less, pollute less and consume less. But, to be frank, there are those among the "experts" who would suggest that this climate change was
inevitable. Regardless of humankind may of done in the past or can or will do in the future, some of these experts would suggest that this climate
change is simply part of the natural evolution of the Earth. Of course, there are also "experts" who can and do argue to the contrary. There is
only one thing, it seems that everyone agrees upon. The Earth is undergoing a change in climate and that change will, in some way, shape or form,
affect every creature on the planet.
One aspect of climate change is the concept of "global warming". It would seem that in spite of a recent history of broken cold temperature records
and snowfall records being shattered, the Earth is getting warmer. And though, at time, it is difficult to believe this to be true, there is a good
deal of scientific evidence to prove that this is true. In the Arctic, for example, patches of open water have appeared where, throughout recorded
history, none has existed. The aboriginal peoples of the Arctic report being mystified at some of the profound changes taking place. Their own
history does not mention such changes in their environment. And polar bears, seals and walrus populations are clearly being threatened by the
receding ice floes. Indeed something is happening here.
In the Antarctic, the situation has some striking similarities. That is, the ice is melting. Glaciers are retreating and large segments of the
massive Ross Ice Shelf are breaking off. Again, these are occurrences that have never, in human memory, happened before. Whether this is because of
the global effects from human global activity or whether it is a natural part of Earth's own evolutionary process is unclear. There are arguments,
to be honest, that could be made for either side of the question. But, frankly, at this point in time, the question is a moot one. The Earth
is getting warmer -- by degrees -- and the ice at the Antarctic is melting.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been blamed, in no small part, upon this concept of Climate Change. The Hurricane storm season has, in recent years,
produced record numbers of Tropical Storms, Hurricanes and other weather situations with increasing severity. I think that everyone can agree that,
indeed, something is going on! We are facing global warming -- whatever the reason. We are facing a period of global climate change and, again, the
reasons are immaterial. Sooner, rather than later, we will all have to deal and adapt to the effects of this planetary situation.
The issue that perhaps, more than any other, would have the most immediate impact on humanity is the aspect of global warming as it would apply in the
Antarctic. Unlike the North Pole and the Arctic regions, Antarctica is a continent. All of the ice in the Antarctic sits upon a land mass -- the
Antarctic continent. And, I might add, there is a lot ice there. The ice has been measured in Antarctica not in inches, feet or even yards but in
miles! Ice thickness there are over two miles thick in some places and, perhaps even thicker in others. Regardless, again we can all agree that
there is a lot of ice to be found on the Antarctic continent.
Keeping in mind that the Antarctic is a continent, that is, a solid land mass, these massive sheets of ice would -- and will -- have a profound effect
upon sea levels when they melt and the massive volumes of liquid water that are contained within are finally released into the oceans. It has been
conservatively estimated that this additional water will raise the sea levels -- world wide -- by two to three feet by 2025. The water levels will
still continue to rise and we can fully expect that the ocean levels will easily rise six to ten feet by 2100.
The concept of climate change, holes in the ozone, air pollution will be but a clear reality when water levels rise to such an extent that human
population centers will be in clear danger from flooding. And, considering that in the United States alone, nearly 160 million Americans live in
coastal regions, this will severely impact the United States. Of course, the U.S. is not facing the problem of rising ocean levels alone. Most
notably are the Netherlands which, frankly, is the most proactive nation when it comes to dealing with this issue. Everyone, I am sure, is aware of
the amazing engineering and construction marvels that the Netherlands have developed to preserve the integrity of their nation from the Sea. The
famous dikes, levees and dams of the Netherlands are nearly mythic in their renown. But even the Dutch have embarked upon a fantastically expensive
plan to extend, strengthen, heighten and preserve the elaborate system of dikes, dams, seawalls and levees to simply keep their nation from
disappearing under the waters of the Atlantic.
What has this to do with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? What has this to do with the Gulf Coastal regions of the US? What has this to do with New
Orleans and it's reconstruction? E V E R Y T H I N G !
For all intents and purposes, the City of New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and what wasn't destroyed outright was demolished by
Hurricane Rita. This proverbial "one - two" punch has all but obliterated an American city of 800 thousand people! In true American fashion,
Americans across the nation are gearing up to reconstruct the "Big Easy". But should we really rebuild New Orleans? Does it really make any
logical sense to do this? Does an "intelligent" species (sic) govern it's actions through sentiment, emotion and "touchy feely"
I can understand the sentiments surrounding this emotional issue. It isn't easy to leave ones home behind but, in this case, it is very likely that
ones home is gone --- simply GONE. Like the old adage, "you can't go home again", it's especially true where it concerns New Orleans. Only, in
this case, there is no home to return to! Yet, people are clamoring to throw millions of dollars into the very same "bowl" that once contained the
"Big Easy". And yet, nothing has changed. That bowl is still ten to fifteen feet below sea level and, as time goes on, those sea levels will only
increase -- considerably! The costs of rebuilding the city will be compounded dramatically by the costs necessary to keep the city safe from flooding
and, to be blunt, this would only be a temporary fix. To make New Orleans safe from flooding would require billions and billions of dollars as well
as literal mountains of fill, steel and concrete....why? Out of some emotional need to haunt the environs of ones' birth? To sentimentally cling to
the neighborhood where one roamed as a youngster? If so, then we can all expect to be paying for the rebuilding of New Orleans again in, say, one
hundred years -- maybe sooner.
The solution is clear and simple. Rebuild New Orleans, if at all, on higher ground. Some would argue that other cities such as San Francisco were
destroyed and then rebuilt -- why not New Orleans? Well, we are technologically more advanced. We have a better understanding of the Earth changes
that loom in the not so distant future. So, unless we are eagerly willing to repeat the folly of the past we should rebuild New Orleans.
Heck, it's only money, right?
Some might cry that it is important to preserve history. Well, when the Russian/Egyptian Aswan Dam was built, the Temple of Ramses was preserved by
moving it. Certainly, it's not quite the same but does anything remain the same? Besides, isn't a a definition of insanity "doing the same
things over and over again expecting a different result"? Well it would be insanity to repeat the same mistake of rebuilding the Big Easy in the
And I'm not "picking" on New Orleans. I have no reason to do so. I would be making the same argument if any coastal American city faced the same
level of destruction that occurred in New Orleans. I would be suggesting that these cities be moved inland or on higher, more secure, ground if at
A NEW New Orleans might not have the same ambiance or history as it once had but, then, a question that one might ask about rebuilding New Orleans in
the same location might also be asked with equal validity. It's time to look at this situation logically as opposed to grasping at an emotional