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60 Minutes to Do Another "Fake But True" Story - On New Orleans

As if the drama of still finding dead bodies 3 months after the hurricane were not enough, 60 Minutes is getting an "expert" to spew absolute nonsense about New Orleans.

"New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America surrounded by a 50- to 100-foot-tall levee system to protect the city," says Kusky, a professor in the earth sciences department at St. Louis University. He estimates this will happen in 90 years.

Now it might surprise most of you to learn that the most devastated part of the city is above sea-level. And it might surprise you even more that the lowest part of the city was dry the whole time. - Now you see why I council against people 1000 miles away pontificating about New Orleans hurricane protection problems.

New Orleans is indeed sinking. Most cities, especially coastal cities, do, we just do it a bit faster. It has been that way for the near 300 years New Orleans has been in existence. Depending on the numbers you go with, most people put it at about 1 inch per decade. So New Orleanians do what any reasonable person would do, we fill.

When New Orleans was a flood plain, mother nature did it for us. Now that we've tamed the river, we do it manually. If the backyard is getting low we order a load of spillway sand. A 12 yard dump truck cost about 60 bucks and one of those every 5 years or so does the trick. (I live in a better area, when I lived in an area that sank more we did about load per year- and it was basically the worst part of town for sinking.) The Mississippi River gives us all the sand we need, we just have to put it where we want it.. No big deal. Certainly a better deal than snow plowing.

So how do we then become "sitting off the coast of North America 18 feet below sea-level" in just 9 decades? That would be an acceleration from about 1 inch per decade to 2 feet per decade. Did the hurricane make a giant sink hole we don't know about?

This whacky scenario is based on the fact that we are losing coastland in Louisiana. Another true fact that doesn't mean as much as they say it does. Coastal erosion was greatly accelerated by the MRGO shipping channel. It's all but etched in stone after Katrina that the MRGO is going to be closed. - That will stop much of the bleeding but not grow any coast any time soon.

The answer is simple - sorta. New Orleans sits at the top of the Mississippi River DELTA. The river keeps bringing more and more sand down and making more land. Hence the delta part. In the last century or so as we've sought other goals, we've managed to reverse this process. The delta is being washed away. We simply need to allow the river to build more land to our south acting as a barrier to the storms.

Mother nature wants to do this by default, we've just managed to muck it up. If you'll allow me an analogy, it is not unlike medical technology. I have a liberal sister who remains offended that we used to X-Ray pregnant women. I've tried to explain to her that X-rays were all we had at that snapshot in time and one day people will be shocked our generation used ultrasound. BUT -radiation not withstanding- the X-Rays saved babies lives and we can't overlook that.

Same can be said of the Mississippi River Delta. We derived benefit from moving mother nature for a few decades. Now we've learned there is a cost to that benefit. It costs us land that would be growing on its own. So in simple terms we need to use the river to build up more coast again. But that is easier to type than it is to do... Or more accurately, easier to type than it is to fund. We've spent money for a century to do what we thought was the right thing with the river. Now that we realized we screwed up, we can't fix it in a single appropriation.

Further, changing the flow of the river will undoubtedly harm some peoples' lives and livelihoods. Adding to the mess, the Army Corps of Engineers would be doing it and we've seen how qualified they are.

But the bottom line is that I'm pretty certain that sometime in the next century or so, we'll manage to stop coastal erosion. It took us a century to get here, so it won't happen over night but I'm sure mankind can muddle thru it.

In the mean time, having a chicken-little on 60 Minutes is just stupid. Even if we did nothing to address coastal erosion, it is highly doubtful that New Orleans would start sinking at the rate of 2.5 inches per year. AND that is assuming the accelerated sinking started today. If it remained static for a few years -which it will- we'd have to sink at an inch month to make his prediction. It's just stupid.

But 60 Minutes, as we've all learned, really doesn't care about getting the story right. I guess some things never change.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 60 Minutes to Do Another "Fake But True" Story - On New Orleans:

» Quotulatiousness linked with New Orleans, the continuing story

» Christian Coalition Blog linked with News & Opinion

» Conservative Outpost linked with Daily Summary

» A Blog For All linked with NOLA Sinking and CBS Hopes For Ratings

Comments (10)

So, Paul,Who could... (Below threshold)

So, Paul,

Who could then benefit from this story? The enviros? Maybe. Nagin & Blanco, when the hue & cry goes up for more of that federal gummint money? Probably. CBS when they whip up a s**tstorm of "controversy" about Bush screwed up and screwed over all them po' folks??

Nah. CBS would't do that would they???

I thought Mapes left the building. Could it be she wasn't the only one?? Gasp!!


Shouldn't professors from S... (Below threshold)

Shouldn't professors from St. Louis U. be worried about their own local impending disaster?

leelu, Mapes was a s... (Below threshold)

Mapes was a symptom, not the cause of the trouble. There wasn't any calculation of who benefits or how to put one over on the public. Mapes and others got stuck on a mindset that the conclusion that Bush got into the Guard via special treatment and neglected his duties. She had been working on this for five years, ever since Bush was nominated, and all she got were dead ends and people who served with him or commanded him saying the exact opposite. Those documents meant to her that she had not wasted five years on a dry hole. Those documents HAD to be true, so to her mind they are, and she won't change her mind even with a signed confession from Bill Burkett that he had defrauded her.

The story here is another case of newsroom tunnel vision. The idea that Doomsday Is Coming If We Don't Mend Our Sinful Ways has been around since people started talking to one another. Doomsday scenarios make good news as well. No one wants to cover the story that the world is NOT coming to an end. This story "felt" right and seemed credible, so the folks at 60 Minutes did not look too hard at whether or not the numbers worked out.

I wonder if it's even possi... (Below threshold)
Captain Ned:

I wonder if it's even possible to let the river bring down all that silt & sand without somehow triggering the river's long-pending jump to the Atchafayala outflow?

Avoyelles Parish native her... (Below threshold)

Avoyelles Parish native here. As long as the locks at 3 rivers keeps the Mississippi on course it won't happen. It almost did in 72 but La government will pretty much sacrifice the rest of the state in order to preserve Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Those locks have been in place since the 30s and have prevented nature from taking its natural course. Pretty much has trashed the coastline in the process.

They forget that the Missis... (Below threshold)

They forget that the Mississippi River Delta was located in eastern St. Bernard Parish around 300 years ago.

It's foolish to think that a river as virulent as the Mississippi is just gonna stay put.

"60 Minutes", what's that? ... (Below threshold)

"60 Minutes", what's that? Some sort of alternative reality show sponsered by the DNC?

I am so sick of both the me... (Below threshold)

I am so sick of both the media and the U.S. government. They both have done everything in their power to kill recovery in New Orleans. I am beginning to think we are no better than the French, with a group of elitists deciding what gets done and what doesn't. Do you know that in New Orleans, we hang on any sign of progress. The opening of an old family Po-boy shop brings hope. But here comes the national media or a Alaskan senator to bang us down again. New Orleans IS rebuilding. Whether the citizens are safe or not is up to whether there will be strong non-defective levees - a federal responsibility. Does the nation care if we exist or not? I am beginning to think they don't. I am a conservative that has voted Republican a long time. Just like there was a political shift after 9-11, I think there will be a political shift in the south along hurricane alley. The only thing that will prevent it is that the Democrats will come up with more looney tune candidates. (Of course, they will.) Third party candidate anyone?

Random Numbers:I h... (Below threshold)

Random Numbers:

I have no doubt that the mindset you describe was in effect. My question speaks to the answer to the age-old question, "Will it sell newspapers?", or, "Will it get eyeballs on the TV screens?"

The business of newspapers is to sell newspapers. The business of ad-based TV is to sell viewers to the advertisers, which brings in ad revenue. The mindset you describe is probably part of a self-perpetuating filter set to pass 'bad' news and block 'good' news, because bad news sells. It's a bonus that they get push their agenda along with it.

The MSM and the liberal media have quite a symbiosis going... MSM tells us how scary and dangerous things are, and the libs will have a gummint program that will make is safe. Today, the local MSM is doing an "How safe are elevators?" piece. Hue and cry, the local pols will cry for studies and reform ("Who doesn't want to be SAFE?!?") money will be spent, heat, light and noise generated, and little if anything of lasting value will happen.

Then, on to tomorrow's crisis du jour....

So, how viable is St. Louis... (Below threshold)

So, how viable is St. Louis as a transportation hub without New Orleans to ship products to & from overseas? That's what should be keeping Kusky awake at night...






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