Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I wonder who Miles talked to

My guess would be somebody from America's Wetland. It was nice of Anderson Cooper to do a segment on Louisiana's vanishing wetlands, but it would have been nicer to hear something about the major immediate cause:
Still, the Louisiana coast might have survived another 1,000 years or more, Louisiana State University scientists said. But the discovery of oil and gas compressed its destruction into a half-century.

By the 1980s, the petroleum industry and the corps had dredged more than 20,000 miles of canals and new navigation channels from the coast inland across the wetlands. The new web of waterways, like a circulatory system pumping poison, injected saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico into salt-sensitive freshwater wetlands. Fueled by the advance of big business on the coast, the Gulf's slow march northward accelerated into a sprint.

I'll post the transcript of last night's Anderson Cooper 360 segment on coastal restoration to save you the trouble of scrolling through. The segment was on restoration efforts, but if Miles mentioned the background cause of the erosion, he should have mentioned the major accelerant, IMO. While the link still works (it's surprising to see it work over a year after it was published), Bob Marshall's series is still worth reading.

The transcript:
Up next, battle on the bayou, man versus nature. Wetlands being rebuilt before the next storm hits Louisiana. See how they are doing it and what is at stake? Our "Planet in Peril" report, next.


COOPER: Hurricane season starts Sunday and this year could be worse than normal. NOAA predicts up to 16 named storms and says a handful may turn into major hurricanes. Federal forecasters worry that some people could be caught unprepared lulled by two relatively quiet seasons; seasons they said were going to be bad.

Along the Gulf Coast, however, work is underway to curve the power of the hurricane and repair our "Planet in Peril." The latest now from Miles O'Brien.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the swamps of Louisiana, the water is murky and filled with menacing eyes. But folks here are not afraid of that. No, what they fear most is that by the time he grows up, it will all be gone.

CAPTAIN TOM BILLIOT, WESTWEGO SWAMP ADVENTURES: Some of this swamp here is 3,000 years old. When you go after this what it look like --

O'BRIEN: In the past 20 years, Captain Tom Billiot figures he has given 10,000 tours of the swamp just South of New Orleans. He is anything but a silent witness to its destruction.

CAPTAIN BILLIOT: In the last 50, 100 years, now the Gulf of Mexico is having its way with us and it is not nice.

O'BRIEN: The swamp is nature's flood protection and the human effort to tame the Mississippi river is at odds with that natural defense.

In the 80 years since they hemmed in the Mississippi with levies, Louisiana has lost enough marshland to cover the state of Delaware. The problem, the swamp needs a steady flow of sediment filled river water to stay healthy. The levies funnel the Mississippi straight into the Gulf bypassing the Delta.

JON PORTHOUSE, COASTAL SCIENTIST: We have to find a way to sustain that marsh by putting the river back in there, getting the sediments nutrients back into the flood plain where it used to be.

O'BRIEN: We dropped in on one effort to do just that. These barrier islands are about 100 miles Southwest of New Orleans.

BRAD MILLER, LOUISIANA DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES: Back in 1974, a hurricane but a breach in this island and cut it in half.

O'BRIEN: And now they are trying to put it back together again by pumping in sand from the bottom of the Gulf.

BRAD MILLER, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: These islands are very important because they offer a buffer for hurricanes. They are more or less a speed bump when a storm comes in from off the Gulf and comes in this islands helps slow it down.

O'BRIEN: There are hundreds of islands like this that need repair. Spending the billions to fix them is part of the state's master plan to bring the Delta back to life. And so is this. This is one of ten places where is the Mississippi is diverted outside the levies and into nearby marshland.

CHUCK VILLARUBIA, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: The marsh is degrading. Now we are seeing the marsh starting to come back. This diversion helps by helping the marsh grow faster.

O'BRIEN: The state would like to double the number of these diversions. But sending all that water out of the channels might leave them too shallow for the big ships that ply this vital port. It means people here are going to face some tough choices to preserve their way of life.

CAPTAIN BILLIOT: They need to consolidate the authorities if any of us is going to keep any of it. We got to all work together. You got to give something to get something back.

O'BRIEN: And that means giving something back to nature. After trying to use brute force to control this mighty river, the experts now say they have no choice but to go with the flow.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Westwego, Louisiana.


Did I miss something?

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