Saturday, August 23, 2008

From the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary ArtsCenter! John Barry is getting ready to speak as Oyster, our fearless bivalve leader, provides an introduction. I will continue to update this all day, so check back often. Barry tells us that he "was in this space a few weeks after the storm," so it holds extra meaning to him to be speaking to us here today.

"..the Gulf of Mexico at one time went all the way to Cape Girardeau, Missouri..." All the land south and west was "made by the deposit of sediment of the Mississippi River... Everyone in the conference knows that we have lost roughly 2000 square miles of land, over time. "He's talking about the breadth of the "Mississippi River" which he considers a "cone" that stretches from northern New York state all the way to the Continental Divide. He calls it an "enormous cone" citing the map in the book, that which is the River's drainage basin, and he explains the difficulties the deposits caused to shipping and the nation's economic development by creating sandbars at the mouth of the river, so in 1875 there were jetties built to stop the creation of these sandbars. This resulted in an explosion in commerce along the river, deeply into the heartland."The port of Tulsa can't use the port of Houston. The port of Pittsburgh can't use any other port but New Orleans.... It's not the port of New Orleans, it's all the cities that New Orleans makes into ports." This is the point I don't think most Americans understand.

Barry states that right now the state of Louisiana is only getting about 1/3 of the sediment that the river should be depositing in the wetlands south of NO, it's "being impounded" by cities (made ports) upriver. "One half of all the sediment that is lost is actually sitting behind dams in ND & SD, dams built to provide electricity. " This creates a major problem for LA & the city of NO, from which nothing is received. He also points out that the entire Gulf IntercoastalWaterway, constructed for purposes of national security, has also provided a hindrance to the deposit of sediment at the mouth of the Mississippi. Add to that the additional salt water intrusion that's further harmed the wetlands, much of which has been caused by the oil industry, especially by their construction of canals. He compares the wetlands to a block of ice, taken out of the freezer and placed into the sink. He also points out that the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Industrial Canal were man-made, dug to enhance shipping for the oil industry. But for them, the water would have never reached the Lower 9. By now, many of us know this, but most of the country doesn't know this and he's committed to getting that word out. Every article he writes he titles "Things You Don't Know About Katrina", a title that has always been changed by his editors.

Answering a question, he points out that the port of New Orleans is 90 miles long, stretching functionally all the way to Baton Rouge, altogether making the largest, busiest port in the world. He suggests that some time in the future a "low water" event might allow an opportunity to repair some of the damage and get the river back on track. He speaks of "risk communication" as a "term of art" and says that what must be done is "you tell the truth". Of course, that's what did not happen here. The truth, known, was not told and New Orleanians did not know the state of their flood protection, or their lack thereof. He suggests that fixing this could become a growing industry, pointing out that we're in better shape, in terms of sea level rise, than in many other parts ofthe world because the marsh is still alive. He also says that every port in the world is below sea level, by definition: Singapore, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, all below sea level because they are ports. He adds, "Death Valley is below sea level but it's got a pretty little levee system." 60% of goods shipped out of America go down the Mississippi River. Without New Orleans Tulsa and Pittsburgh are no longer ports.

LeighCheckman is blogging beside me, watched over by our own Mominem. Updates soon and often. Thanks for watching. Peace.

First update: Missed most of the Education panel (schedule here) fighting tech difficulties (thanks Alan & Mayoress for fixing). Wanted to add that Inspector Cerasoli came to the meet & greet last night and stayed to the last, talking, and listening, to the bloggers. He's a good thing for New Orleans.

LisaPal's pics from last night coming soon. Don't miss them.

Journalism panel now. Jeffry Bostick moderates.

Lee Zurik says his eyebrows are real!

Loki asks that those of us live blogging let people know that Humid City is temporarily down migrating to a new server. It's been a glitchy couple of days. Oh, and there's a tropical storm coming. Not sure about getting back to Atlanta. :/ Mark LaFlaur of Levees Not War, in from New York, asks the great question, how do we, the grass roots of the blogosphere (us) connect with the top tier of the blogosphere (Kos, TPM, etc.). Eli answers that we should push, we can email Josh Marshall, Kos, etc. Zurik suggests that patience and relationship building is important too, citing that he and Karen emailed for over a year before they, together, broke the NOAH story. My attention span wanes. We just saw a sneak preview of the new film, which I'll post when it becomes available. Now the local politics panel is seated, peppered with friends, Dangerblond, Suspect Device, Schroeder. Fellow blog citizen, Adrastos, is moderating.

I'm officially the only person live-blogging the after party and it won't last long. We're at Rendevouz at the corner of Magazine & 8th, Uptown, New Orleans. This is the best part! Small contingent of bloggers, mostly drinking. That's all. If you're in the neighborhood (lucky you) stop by!

Correction: In my last update I meant to say that the "live blogging" won't last long, not the afterparty, which continued well into the wee hours. I can't get enough time with these bright people. Finally, here in my golden years (heh), I've fallen in with the Best. Crowd. Ever. Rising Tide was such a stunning success. There wasn't one uninteresting moment. Somehow, the panels, which have been excellet at each event, manage to continue getting better. I'll be back with a more thorough round up a bit later, but would like to thank The Mayoress for all her help yesterday during B-C's downtime. It's easy to forget how fortunate we are to have a host with such fine citizen service.

More Sunday morning. Until I get my wrap up post finished and us, RT iii blogging central can be found at Maitri's. She did a fabulous job covering yesterday, with pics (some of which I'll glom later - thanks in advance, M).

1 comment:

josh williams said...

Well done, much to digest and I am just bone tired. Long weekend long day and now I need to turn in, I feel the zzzzzzz's knocking at my brain.