Restore nature's barriers against storms-quickly!
Vast swamps protect New Orleans from the open ocean, but they are shrinking at the rate of an acre every 30 minutes. Since 1930, more than 1,500 square miles have vanished. By 2050, a third of the inland shorelines currently sheltered by wetlands will be exposed to open ocean.
Much of the blame lies with the oil and gas industry. Developers have dredged at least 9,000 miles of canals through fragile wetlands to access oil and gas reserves and to create navigable waterways. The canals channel saltwater inland with the tides, drowning wetland plants accustomed to shallow freshwater.
The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and state and federal agencies aim to reverse the destruction with a $14-billion, 30-year wetland restoration plan called Coast 2050. A key to its success will be pumping sediment from the Mississippi River through huge pipelines into surrounding marshes and swamps. Over decades, this will fill in open areas and stimulate the spread of native vegetation. In the short term, however, biologists are identifying wetland flora that can adapt to saltier, deeper water. So far, efforts to rejuvenate damaged areas with these plants have been slow going. That's because the typical method for wetland restoration is to plant grasses and trees by hand-a process that is both tedious and expensive.
Herry Utomo, a geneticist at Louisiana State University's AgCenter, has a better idea: Genetically enhance wetland grasses to grow in almost any environment, deep or shallow, salt or fresh. The experimental grasses will produce hearty seeds that sprout readily after being airdropped by crop dusters-no more hand planting.
For the past six years, Utomo and his research team have been selectively breeding 13 varieties of cordgrass and California bluegrass in a three-quarter-acre testbed. They're also working in the lab to identify salt-tolerant genes that can be integrated into the DNA of the evolving grass crop.
In February, Utomo will conduct his first major field trial, dropping 100 pounds of the enhanced seed onto Louisiana marshland. Done on a much larger scale, this type of restoration could cost as little as $10 per acre. Hand planting typically costs $3,500 or more per acre.
If the tests go well, it will still take decades to rebuild all that has been destroyed. "But at least we will be able to restore some areas very fast," Utomo says. "At the current rate of loss, we have to do something to speed up recovery."
Utomo says it will take a further two to three years to develop a full-scale production crop of seeds and begin wetland restoration in earnest.
I like the idea of the floating homes. It is cool but very very expensive. Still it guarantees nothing... It will be like living in boat :)
Jen @ http://www.goldshares.org
It will be like living in a boat only when there is a huge storm. Still I would prefer to watch the storm on the news, not to experience it.
Mira - http://www.whitenteeth.net/
These 5 ideas are all fine, but there is no mention of the obvious best option.
Jack up the houses to above flood level and fill in with hydraulic dredged sand and silt from the Mississippi or other close by fill material.
This could be done a section at a time next to the levees and would strengthen the levees until all of the city is above flood level.
It is the only option that makes sense to me.
I built levees for a living for 35 years and I understand the power of rivers. To think of all of those people living below sea level with ever increasing chance of hurricanes is a little too much of a gamble. The other increasing risk is the Mississippi river where the bottom of the river is higher than the surrounding land. That needs to be changed also. We think nothing of giving billions to support the oil industry which makes the most profit. Some also think that corporate farming needs supports. Why not use these unnecessary funds for something like raising New Orleans. Makes no sense to you? Neither should the above mentioned folly of supporting industries which need no help from taxpayers. N.O. either get up or get out.