Friday, August 17, 2007

Got the Walkin' Jurisdynamic Blues

Not really an encouraging day, in terms of the kinds of nonlinear events that are the particular domain of this blog. In one story, the Times reports on the limitations of the expensive efforts to date to repair the New Orleans flood control system:
Six inches.

After two years and more than a billion dollars spent by the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild New Orleans’s hurricane protection system, that is how much the water level is likely to be reduced if a big 1-in-100 flood hits Leah Pratcher’s Gentilly neighborhood.

Looking over the maps that showed other possible water levels around the city, Ms. Pratcher grew increasingly furious. Her house got four feet of water after Hurricane Katrina, and still stands to get almost as much from a 1-in-100 flood.

By comparison, the wealthier neighborhood to the west, Lakeview, had its flooding risk reduced by nearly five and a half feet.

“If I got my risk reduced by five feet five inches, I’d feel pretty safe,” said Ms. Pratcher, who along with her husband, Henry, warily returned home from Baton Rouge, La. “Six inches is not going to help us out.”

New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina; now it is awash in data, studied obsessively in homes all over town. And the simple message conveyed by that data is that while parts of the city are substantially safer, others have changed little. New Orleans remains a very risky place to live.
In a second story the AP reports on a striking impact of climate change:
There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

"Today is a historic day," said Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the center. "This is the least sea ice we've ever seen in the satellite record and we have another month left to go in the melt season this year."

Satellite measurements showed 2.02 million square miles of ice in the Arctic, falling below the Sept. 21, 2005, record minimum of 2.05 million square miles, the agency said.
Put those two together, and things don't look so good, for the world in general or New Orleans in particular. The world is changing, and we're not protecting adequately against current hazards, let alone future increases in risk.


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