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Will Rising Sea Levels Cause More Deadly Hurricanes?

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According to researchers at NOAA, the mean sea level trend in New Orleans is 9.85 millimeters/year (3.23 feet/century) with a standard error of 0.35 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1947 to 1999.

There is growing concern that if these drastic increases continue it will mean disaster for cities like New Orleans. Rising sea levels are a long term trend that may be unstoppable in the future once levels reach the breaking point. The area around New Orleans is one the fastest rising areas in North America. In the future a Hurricane like Katrina or Rita may be far more deadly because of higher sea levels.

It is uncertain at present time whether manmade activities are causing the sea level to rise. The problem remains a pressing one nevertheless. A more important question and the only one people should be asking :What can we do about if it if anything to protect ourselves in the future?

The Netherlands has the most famous and extensive dyke system in the world. The United States needs to send people over there to see what they have done. They had their own Katrina-like flooding back in the 1950s and learned from it. Today they have a massive system that has successfully repelled flooding to date. The Dutch have primarily been concerned with flood prevention, but what if we also generate power at the same time we stop deadly storm surges?

If New Orleans and other coastal areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina are to be rebuilt we will need to address this question. The present system of makeshift dikes and levees is clearly not enough. The answer is of course a better engineered comprehensive system to address this long term problem.

Tidal power stations are being built in Canada and France; this is something New Orleans needs to investigate. The best thing that could happen is if somebody devises a way to harness the incredible mighty power of this water to generate electricity. This is going to require probably billions of United States taxpayers’ dollars, and a political blood-letting of ancient Roman proportions.

President Bush and Congress have already allocated $62 billion for relief and rescue efforts; will he be willing to spend another $10 billion on a massive coastal dyke system even if it means saving hundreds of billions later? What is so wrong about planning for the future rainy day, instead of partying like it’s 1999?

Environmentalist groups like Greenpeace, NDRC, and the Sierra Club will do everything in their power to stop any wetland or habitat destruction regardless of the cost in human lives. The legal costs could easily dwarf the actual construction costs. We need to come together as Americans and take a look at the big picture. Saving a Spotted Red Coastal Robin may sound noble in normal times, but these are hardly normal times. I will take saving human lives over some bird that was meant to go extinct any day of the week.

Written by John Bill, Director of the Jmaximus Insttitue of Freedom


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About John Bill

  • One of my relatives has worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers (the agency mostly responsible for flood control and the like) for years and says the agency is a mess. Besides receiving budget cuts they, like other federal agencies, suffer from mismanagement. His Corps district pays a $10 million yearly lease for a primo spot downtown; for that rent they could’ve built their own building and saved millions over the years.

    President Bush and Congress – going against everything conservatism stands for – have spent money like L.B.J. liberals on a crack binge.

    Our massive national debt (almost $8 trillion) is the major obstacle to spending tens of billions of dollars on extensive flood control. Federal spending is going to have to be cut at some level. And sadly, the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama aren’t exactly the most “politically” important states. What I’m getting at is this: do you think congressmen will be willing to eliminate their pet projects and local pork for a complex levee system in the south? Only time will tell..