The Louisiana Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans are in trouble. Land there is sinking below sea level rapidly, faster than anywhere else in the world, at rates that scientists predict the rest of the world will see only at the end of this century.
This erosion has been going on since the Mississippi was re-routed in 1932 to protect communities from the river’s seasonal flooding — but those same floods used to carry sediment that restored land washed out to sea by erosion and storms.
About 2,000 square miles of Louisiana have disappeared from the coast already. Climate change and the more frequent powerful storms that are expected as result, along with rising sea levels, are expected to exacerbate these problems.
Fortunately, there is a master plan in place to save the Gulf Coast. But it’s a 50-year, $US50 billion plan, and so far, the money is not there.
Here’s the official plan to save the coast:
In the southwest part of the state, there’s an emphasis on marsh restoration — marshland absorbs floods and can be a barrier to land loss.
The center of the Louisiana coast will require artificial protections like levees and natural barriers to land loss like oyster reefs.
Protecting New Orleans and the surrounding area will be particularly challenging, requiring barriers to block storm surges and the restoration of natural features.
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