Argument: Global warming & stronger hurricanes will destroy new New Orleans

Issue Report: Rebuilding New Orleans


Joel K. Bourne, Jr. “New Orleans: A Perilous Future”. National Geographic. August 2007 – Global warming is boosting sea-surface temperatures in hurricane alley—the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean—and warm seas are rocket fuel for stronger hurricanes. Before Katrina made landfall, it had exploded from a Category 3 storm to a Category 5 in 12 hours, partly because it stirred up a deep pocket of warm water in the Gulf. Only when it reached the Louisiana coast did the storm weaken again to a Category 3, sparing New Orleans an even greater catastrophe. If global warming produces stronger storms on top of the decadal cycle, 2005, with Katrina, Rita, and two other mega-hurricanes in the Atlantic, could be a stormy precursor of the coming century.

“The future of New Orleans looks bleak,” says Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of LSU’s Hurricane Center, who led the state’s investigation of the Katrina disaster. “We have to recognize that global warming is part of our future, sea level rise is part of our future, more storms are part of our future. You flood those houses one more time, nobody is going to come back. And the rest of the country will lose interest.”