Scientists versus the local community: A case study in post-Katrina New Orleans Amy E. Lesen, Ph.D. Dillard University, New Orleans, LA and Pratt Institute,
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Presentation on theme: "Scientists versus the local community: A case study in post-Katrina New Orleans Amy E. Lesen, Ph.D. Dillard University, New Orleans, LA and Pratt Institute,"— Presentation transcript:
Scientists versus the local community: A case study in post-Katrina New Orleans Amy E. Lesen, Ph.D. Dillard University, New Orleans, LA and Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NYC
City-building in New Orleans: A port city on a floodplain 1722 first levee built by French 1750s French engineers build levees higher and higher Early 1800s, after LA purchase, clear economic value 1846 LA state engineer warns about flood risks Huge flood of 1849, levees breached 1850:Levees-only policy, city engineers Levees breached 4 times 1849-1874 1920, N.O. is 14th largest U.S. city Huge flood of 1927; 700,000 homeless –End of levees-only policy, spillways and reservoirs
City-building in New Orleans: A port city on a floodplain 1930s to 1970s –Beginning of major wetland loss to development –Spillways built, industrial canals built –1965, Hurricane Betsy 1988 New Orleans is #1 U.S. port in tonnage handled
City-building in New Orleans: A port city on a floodplain 2005: LA disappearing wetlands: extensively documented by scientists Up to 40 sq miles per year –US Army Corps channeling of the Mississippi River for shipping –Construction of flood-control levees along the river to protect New Orleans –Canals built by the oil and gas industry –Natural subsidence –Rising sea levels
Disaster and hurricane preparedness in Louisiana Large role for scientists 1998: Coast 2050 Plan for Louisiana –Links coastal health to storm protection –January 2004: Louisiana Governor Personally Asks Bush to Fund Louisiana Coastal Restoration Project –2005, Proposed budget sliced by Bush admin 2004: Hurricane Pam simulation –Louisiana State University scientists –Predicated the post-Katrina scenario –Implementation “incomplete”
“Should a Class 5 hurricane blow water over the [Lake Pontchartrain] levees, the city could find itself under water for months. Evacuation would face serious bottlenecks due to the limited number of escape routes across the water-logged terrain…Recent popular accounts paint a dire picture and suggest that federal authorities might not be willing to make the investment necessary that cannot afford to protect itself.” (Colten 2005)
Environmental Justice in New Orleans Louisiana: “Cancer Alley,” chemical industry, oil industry Long history of grass roots environmental justice work and activism, environmental health issues Documentation of correlation with sea level of neighborhoods and race, all across the south Role of practicing scientists?
Success - an intense & urgent range of individual to collective actions.
“Greening” New Orleans and the Gulf coast post-Katrina Bullard, 2005: Will it be racially, socially, or economically equitable? Community initiatives: Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward Global Green project
The tension between city building and the environmental setting in NOLA - Colten, 2005. An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature. - Colten, 2001. Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs: Centuries of Change.