It’s time to factor #ClimateChange into rebuilding vs. relocation plans.

Hurricane Ida wrought yet another New Orleans disaster yesterday. Watching the storm’s twisting might slam the Gulf Coast on television and social media, it was impossible not to recall the suffering in the city and surrounding areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Or the post-catastrophe decisions made.

I wrote about it in 2019:

Text from post about post-Katrina disaster in New Orleans
From “Climate Change Lays Areas Low. Earth’s People Get the Blues.”

Question stands.

Even as we fight to end fossil fuels and stop CO2 emissions, we need to rethink normal and focus on adaptation and resilience. Unfortunately, adapting to the new reality of a hotter planet is not always going to be fair or even reasonable by old definitions, but it’s where we are.

Radar image of Hurricane Ida creating a New Orleans disaster
Radar image via WRAL News – Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville

My heart goes out again to all the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas who have been and will continue to be impacted by Hurricane Ida. Unfortunately, more cities and more people will be hit like this again and again as global warming intensifies hurricanes, tsunamis and other storms.

As for relocation and reconstruction questions and making decisions for communities around the world that sit at elevations close to sea level…

Wait long enough and the rising oceans will turn them into survival necessities. The questions and decision-making will be moot; the suffering will not.

Related: Climate Change Changes Post-Disaster Questions

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Featured image by Brandon Bell/Getty Images via NPR – 
“Marlon Maldonado helps his wife and child into a boat on Aug. 31 in Barataria, La., to travel to their home after it flooded during Hurricane Ida.” Barataria is 35 miles south of New Orleans.

4 Comments

  1. Change is forced from the bottom up, which means we have to start a movement by raising these issues at each opportunity.
    Good article. Thanks

  2. Hello Martin
    Is it as simple as simply leaving New Orleans to nature? Or will the solution be more levies? If we do nothing, it isn’t just the city that will be affected by tidal rise. What will it mean for the Mississippi River and agriculture in Louisiana and eventually further north?

    Granted hurricanes will be a yearly problem with rising intensities and greater frequencies but isn’t NOLA just a single example? What about Houston, Biloxi, Miami, Tampa, Mobile, Galveston and a host of other communities small and large that are likely targets for large hurricanes? Will those cities and communities be subject to the same debate at some point?

    A lot of questions, I know. And coming from someone who hasn’t studied the effects of climate change as thoroughly as you have.

    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where there are 60 miles of shoreline, and that doesn’t include San Pablo Bay to the north of San Francisco Bay and Suisun Bay to the east of San Pablo Bay, all leading to the Sacramento River Delta and the agricultural communities to the north, east and south.

    A plan has been floated (no pun intended) to dam the Golden Gate, just west of the bridge. A large task in itself which may or may not stem the tides, but it is a solution that will essentially shut down the busy Port of Oakland, the eighth largest in North America.

    Rising seas will affect over 95,000 miles of U.S. shoreline, a crisis that demands a national strategy that employs local tactics. I hope that this will become a national priority but I fear that it will be another can kicked from administration to administration.

    Paul

    1. Paul, I agree. So many questions. No matter what the answers might be, none of them are going to be easy. I believe we either make the difficult, unpopular decisions now or climate and planet will make them for us. I also believe that we (not you and me, probably, but humans) will start seeing the forced decisions by 2100. The damages we are seeing now are nothing compared to what’s coming… UNLESS we cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately. Unfortunately, with the incrementalism and greed I see among so-called “leaders” and either apathy, inability to comprehend the science or refusal to do so by a huge portion of the world’s population, it’s hard to believe we can get that done in time. That said, I still hope, mostly because the alternative is unbearable. You put it so well: “…it will be another can kicked from administration to administration.” Kicking the can down the road feels like a legitimate response by far too many people.

Let me know what you think!