New Orleans: Canary in the Coal Mine

(Part of the NOLA/GULF BLOGATHON now ongoing at Dkos, see below for the schedule)

Priorities.

“Our” government is spending $434 million per day, $3 billion per week and $13.2 billion per month on Iraq. And still no one can tell us why, not even it’s architects

As Americas infrastructure crumbles, as the Iraqi government builds a surplus. As New Orleans languishes, still destroyed, still hanging on by a thread, still essentially abandoned by both government and the Republican lauded “private sector.” (Please read commonscribes diary

on the insurance industry and NOLA!)

.

And at a time when we need to very much be thinking ahead, not just to maintaining the health of the current infrastructure, but to preparing it to deal with the rapidly changing future. The onslaught of Climate Crisis. This may come a a surprise to Michael Chertoff and friends, but port cities like New Orleans are going to be slightly affected. Rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf should be a model experiment of a new way of thinking and reacting to the challenges of the 21st century and the environmental concerns facing us. (Please read Louisiana 1976′ diary on the environment and NOLA!)

Instead, it is treated, and has been since the unforgettable pictures of poor people suffering in the aftermath of Katrina……as a ghetto. Jut enough help and money comes in to keep the “important” critics silent and a nation’s guilt at bay.

All while setting the stage for the same tragedy…the same eminently foreseeable tragedy …to repeat itself. The lack of foresight, lack of planning, the lack of caring, make New Orleans indeed the canary in a coal mine of the 21st century.

From Online Journal

The huge costs of Katrina, in terms of both blood and treasure, can be called opportunity costs of war and military spending: When a disproportionately large share of public or national resources are diverted to war and militarism, the opportunity of maintaining or upgrading public infrastructure is lost and the citizens, especially the poor and working people, are made more vulnerable in the face of natural disasters.

It is true that some disasters cannot be prevented from occurring. But, with proper defenses, they can be contained and their destructive effects minimized. Katrina was not; it was not “because of a laissez-faire government that failed to bother to take warnings seriously,” and because of a skewed government fiscal policy “that is stingy when it comes to spending on public goods but lavish on armaments and war.” More fundamentally, because, driven by powerful special interests, the government has since the advent of Reaganomics in the 1980s been steadily diverting non-military public spending to military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby bringing about a steady erosion of the infrastructural defense systems against natural disasters.

In light of the steady cuts of the infrastructural funding for the city of New Orleans, especially of the funds that would maintain and/or reinforce the city’s levee system, catastrophic consequences of a hurricane of the magnitude of Katrina were both predictable and, indeed, predicted.

Human life, the life of nearly seven billion people on this planet, is a fragile web, much more fragile than we would like to believe. So many of the world great cities are port cities. So much of our life sustaining commerce is dependent on our ports. They are the distribution hubs of, at the very least, life as we know it today.

Port cities are of course the most at risk from the rising ocean levels that are now inevitable. And as we saw with Katrina, they are also the most vulnerable to the Warming induced increased ferocity of storms. When the Port of New Orleans was closed, it affected the entire center of the country, all the way up and down the Mississippi River. Just imagine the consequences….and costs….if the same type of tragedy were not limited to jut one of our great port cities. Jut imagine the consequence and cost to ALL of our port cities…all of our coastal communities.

Just TRY to imagine the (warning: graphic) human costs, as well. Even if they are not as heartrendingly dramatic as what we watched that week in the summer of 2005.

Remember NOLA!

For so many reasons……..but perhaps for the most important reason of all, to prevent the same tragedy from repeating itself again and again.

Priorities.

:

NOLA/GULF BLOGATHON–ALL TIMES PACIFIC

Thurs., Apr. 17

7AM Louisiana 1976

9AM commonscribe

11AM buhdydharma

1PM mlharges

3PM Mike Stagg

5PM alpelican

Fri., Apr. 18

7AM YatPundit

9AM Mike Stagg

11AM Louisiana 1976

1PM mlharges

3PM chigh

5PM Bodhiness

8 comments

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    • brobin on April 17, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    White Noise.  To the Congress, White Noise.  

    How do we make the statement in plain terms where everyone can understand that THIS IS IMPORTANT, especially because it could happen anywhere in any number of ways and YOU might be affected?  Because if it happens to YOU too, they will hear nothing but White Noise about your plight as well.

    • OPOL on April 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    what happened to NOLA could happen to any of us.  

    • kj on April 18, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf should be a model experiment of a new way of thinking and reacting to the challenges of the 21st century and the environmental concerns facing us. (Please read Louisiana 1976′ diary on the environment and NOLA!)

    Instead, it is treated, and has been since the unforgettable pictures of poor people suffering in the aftermath of Katrina……as a ghetto. Jut enough help and money comes in to keep the “important” critics silent and a nation’s guilt at bay.

    Best coupla thoughts I’ve read together in quite awhile, Buhdy.  Thank you.

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