Argument: New Orleans was wrongly built below sea level at odds with nature

Issue Report: Rebuilding New Orleans


John Blair. “Not Where It Was. Should New Orleans be Rebuilt?”. Counter Punch. 5 Sept. 2005 – Recent events show clearly that New Orleans should never have been built where it was, especially under sea level which meant this week that it was under water.

Walter Youngquist. “Should New Orleans be Rebuilt?”. NPG Internet Forum – Simple elementary geology

The facts of deltas–distributaries, compaction of sediments, levee maintenance problems in keeping a river where it does not naturally want to go, and how withdrawal of groundwater causes subsidence of ground levels in unconsolidated sediments–are all presented in Geology 101. I and many of my university colleagues teaching that elementary course cited these facts as reason why the location of New Orleans was no place build a city.

Bill Thewalt, comment on Dot Earth, cited in 2008 New York Times article[1] – When will people realize that New Orleans is built below sea level and therefore an indefensible place to live? We continue to spend money on rescue efforts and ultimately useless levees. Why not simply prohibit people from inhabiting and building on land below sea level?

Walter Youngquist. “Should New Orleans be Rebuilt?”. NPG Internet Forum – Bunch (2005) writes:

“If you threw a dart at a map of the United States 999 times, you could not hit a worse spot to locate a metropolis.

“Surrounded by two large flood-prone bodies of water, New Orleans lies as much as 10 feet below sea level in some places, and is sinking deeper every year. With scientists seeing an era of more intense and more frequent tropical storms, it sits in the bull’s eye of Hurricane Alley…And so, with much of the city under water, some are wondering: Is it really a good idea to rebuild New Orleans, and will it be done?

“Fox News analyst Jack Chambless, an economics professor, said American taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for people to live there…’it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River from flooding into New Orleans, like it naturally should.”‘

Klaus Jacob. “Time for a Tough Question: Why Rebuild?”. Washington Post. 6 Sept. 2005 – This is not a natural disaster. It is a social, political, human and — to a lesser degree — engineering disaster. To many experts, it is a disaster that was waiting to happen.