News Stories

Can We Really Move the Mississippi?

It's an emergency situation, so we have to try. The Mississippi is eating away at the eating away at the coastline of Louisiana, making it even more vulnerable to future hurricanes. The amount of land being lost is huge and it's happening FAST.

In the Independent, Andrew Gumbel writes that the delta region is losing land "at the rate of a football field every half hour or so?or a the area of a tennis court every 13 seconds?Even without another hurricane, the erosion patterns are deeply disturbing. Within the next 50 years, shallow water is going to be lapping all the way up to the New Orleans city limits."

Environmentalists have been warning Louisiana for years that it should act to preserve its coastal wetlands, which are its major protection against hurricanes coming ashore. But as usual, greed won out, with energy companies sinking oil wells in the area and property developers building houses in the area.

Suburban subdivisions can definitely promote global warming, at least on a local level. Researchers in Indiana proved this by looking at satellite images of Indianapolis over the past few decades. A wooded area depicted in satellite images taken just three years ago has since been replaced with the concrete sidewalks and driveways, asphalt streets and brick-fronted homes of a subdivision. By retaining heat and not allowing rain water to pass through to the soil beneath, the concrete, asphalt and brick of suburban housing developments keep cities warmer than the surrounding countryside, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. The researchers think that we could help large cities stay just a little bit cooler by planting trees that will eventually spread their shading branches over streets and sidewalks.

The damage done to New Orleans by Katrina was not due to erosion, it was caused by a break in the weak levee structure that caused the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, which were rapidly rising to due to the heavy rainfall, to flow into the city. However, scientists warn that erosion could be a major factor next time, and with global warming, there WILL be a next time.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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To see how emissions can move from one part of the world to another, click here.

To learn more, click here and here.

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