Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bruce Babbitt Redux

Dear Mr. Babbitt
I understand your point about New Orieans. I get it, but it's not just
logic and science and rational thought at play. Humans can be logical
and scientific and rational, but they are also emotional. That is what
seems to get lost in all of this. And New Orleans is a city in this
country of ours. I don't think I have ever heard people saying that we
should just give up and move away from any other American city. It may
not sound like it to you, but that is what a quote like this says:

The best
course is a managed retreat to defensible positions throughout the
delta country. In the course of this century, we must prepare to
evacuate low-lying lands that cannot realistically be saved. And then
we can turn to protecting those areas that will remain above sea level,
perhaps 10 to 20 percent of the delta, including communities like
Houma, Morgan City and Lafayette.

Before Congress is
asked to spend vast sums of federal money on ineffective, piecemeal
levee projects, Louisiana must prepare a land use plan for the entire
delta showing what can and cannot be saved. If the state is serious
about its future, it should begin preparing that plan right away.

New Orleans is (purposefully, I think) not mentioned.

Is New Orleans built on low ground? Yes. Is it going to continue to
subside? yes. Should people live there? Probably not. But the fact
is that they do. I used to live there. I have family that lives
there. I have friends that live there. It is not some playground or
food mecca for me. It is home. And all logic and science and reason
flies out the window at that point.

Do you tell someone who lives in tornado alley that they shouldn't
rebuild their home or that it should just be forsaken and left to the
winds and storms? Do you tell people whose houses are on the edge of
sinkholes not to move to the same neighborhood? What about mudslides? Or avalanches? Or river floods? There are many parts
of this country whose residents live in danger from natural disasters.
If we tried to move all people from natural disasters, where would we
all live?

New Orleans used to be one of America's jewels. It now seems like it
is one of America's embarrassments. I, for one, do not subscribe to
this view. Besides being a major international port, New Orleans is an
American city. Never have I heard of anyone abandoning another
American city. Sure, we may agree that Galveston is not the smartest
place to live. But it is wrong to suggest that New Orleans shouldn't
be rebuilt or that the "delta should reclaim it." Any part of it. It
is home. It is emotional. And until you can find a scientific way to
measure "what it means to miss New Orleans," I don't want to hear it.


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