“The Case Against Rebuilding New Orleans”. The Unplanning Journal. 8 Sept. 2005 – We know what geological forces we face in the delta and what measures we have to take to over come them. The question is, will we have the energy to continue to do so? With the recent destruction of New Orleans, will we also have enough energy (and other resources) to rebuild what was lost while protecting from future calamity?
Again the answer would have to be no.
Our global energy supplies are stretched thinner than ever, even before Hurricane Katrina struck. As we pass through the point of Peak Oil in the next few years, our energy situation will become evermore serious and dire. This will affect the pace of any rebuilding (if it does indeed commence soon) by driving up the cost of fuel and construction materials so much so that people cannot afford to rebuild. Eventually it will rob construction firms from most forms of mechanized activities unless governmental priorities resulted in direct access to fuels and the necessary petroleum-based chemical feed stocks.
Secondly, the spiraling cost of oil and other forms of energy would suck the economic life out of the country, depriving the government of the will or the means to pay for an increasingly costly reconstruction effort. Levee rebuilding may become a casualty to an energy driven economic depression. First rate ideas may yield to third rate solutions that prove to be more cost effective than technically effective. Perhaps if we were further away from peak oil, more could be accomplished.