14 December 2005

Abandoning New Orleans?

SoundRoots has written several times about New Orleans. While not necessarily known as a hub of "world music," the city has been crucial to music in the USA - and the Caribbean. Like I need to tell you that.

Well, now that the storm season is over and the immediate danger passed, it's time for the big picture. For many, the big picture is limited to the city's rebuilding plans. Others see a bigger picture, and it ain't pretty. In the latest Orion magazine, Mike Tidwell persuasively argues that the bigger issue is the disappearing network of barrier islands and coastal wetlands that once buffered the area from storms. President Bush has not once in his post-Katrina speeches mentioned the issue, Tidwell writes.
To encourage people to return to New Orleans, as Bush is doing, without funding the only plan that can save the city from the next Big One, is to commit an act of mass homicide. If, after all the human suffering and expense of this national ordeal, the federal government can't be bothered to spend the cost of a tunnel from Logan Airport to downtown Boston, then the game is truly over.
Sure, every place on earth is subject to natural forces. But one of the responsibilities of government is to help protect its people, from enemies foreign and domestic. Here in the Northwest, we have warning and evacuation systems for tsunamis and volcanoes, and strict building codes due to the frequency of earthquakes. But rebuilding New Orleans without the buffers is about as responsible as putting a city on the side of Mt. Saint Helens.

Read Tidwell's article. Check out www.katrinanomore.com for info on the links between Katrina and global warming. Think about the big picture. And while you're doing so, listen to the Meters singing about their city.

[mp3] The Meters: "Talkin' 'Bout New Orleans"
from the CD Fire on the Bayou

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