I was reading the New Yorker this evening. The article on Katrina and New Orleans and the aftermath really struck me. There are a whole lot of causes of Katrina, and reasons why there is a good chance New Orleans as a city will never be rebuilt properly again. Part of it, as the article makes clear, is just about building a city on the delta of a mighty river. But part of it is that with the combination of potential increases in sea levels, major increases in storm frequency, as well as the general poverty of the place, the chances of enough people taking a risk with their financial futures and rebuilding there to remake the New Orleans of legend are pretty slim.
Unlike the overdramatic headlines I’ve read about various tiny islands being “the first casualty of global warming”*, when we look back in 50 years time, New Orleans may well be the casualty we remember – the city that was lost.
* when you look past the headline, the only island I’ve seen that involved actual evacuation was to a higher spot on the same island, where the people lived before westerners valued beachfront more than security – it will come, but it hasn’t yet in a serious way.