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article imageLouisiana's new climate plan addresses 'existential crisis'

By Karen Graham     May 17, 2019 in Environment
Baton Rouge - On Wednesday, Louisiana released a sweeping plan called LA SAFE, detailing climate adaptation strategies and underscoring the problem of coastal land loss. The plan is a detailed blueprint for coping with global warming.
Since Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in August 2005, each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes has been included in a federal major disaster declaration as a result of a named tropical event. Again, in 2016, two major flooding events just six months apart caused severe flash and river floods and led to major disaster declarations in 56 parishes.
In April 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an emergency proclamation declaring the Louisiana Coast in a state of crisis and emergency. The emergency proclamation was sent to President Trump and members of Congress.
As part of the declaration, the state requested $92 billion from the federal government to help with the building of flood mitigation projects.
Oil Derrick in the Louisiana Bayou.
Oil Derrick in the Louisiana Bayou.
Rainforest Action Network - Flickr CC2.0
Louisiana also placed into action its s 2017 Coastal Master Plan - an attempt at keeping the bottom one-third of the state liveable. But since that time, while waiting for the needed funds, Louisiana has continued to lose coastline at an alarming rate.
Louisiana's coastal land loss continues at the rate of nearly a football field every hour. This loss of coastal wetlands continues, even though the state is separately working on a $50 billion, 50-year Coastal Master Plan, focusing on coastal restoration and flood risk reduction projects.
“Even with the full implementation of the master plan, it is likely Louisiana will continue to experience net land loss,” the LA SAFE executive summary says. “In some communities, conditions are likely to get worse before they get better. For some, relocation is the only viable option.”
A man navigates a boat of rescued goats past a partially submerged car after flooding on August 16  ...
A man navigates a boat of rescued goats past a partially submerged car after flooding on August 16, 2016 in Gonzales, Louisiana
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
Louisiana faces risks from three types of flooding
Besides being the most flood-prone state in the country, Louisiana's flood risks extend to all three types of flooding—coastal (surge and tidal), fluvial (rivers), and pluvial (intense rain causing surface flooding).
The report conceded that with flood mitigation plans in place, like levees, pumps, and floodgates, complete protection is impossible. This means that adaption is vital and necessary. The plan calls for a comprehensive approach to infrastructure reduction risks and ecological restoration efforts.
Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) is a holistic approach to flood risks, as well as the many human, economic, and environmental impacts associated with past flood losses and those expected in the future. With global warming fueling sea level rise, and land in the delta subsiding, local leaders need to be prepared to support "planned retreats from areas that are becoming unsustainable," the state plan says.
Map showing land losses in 2017 in Louisiana
Map showing land losses in 2017 in Louisiana
Using the CPRA Flood Risk Medium Scenario Modeling - we can see the expected land loss on Louisiana's coastline in 2067, and there will be a big difference. NOLA gives people a worst-case scenario: "Almost every community south of Interstate 10 – including areas around Lake Charles, Morgan City, Houma, Mandeville, and Madisonville – could be under water or surrounded by it before children born today reach their 40s.
Compared to the 2017 map above  it is easy to see what s ahead for Louisiana. The different shades o...
Compared to the 2017 map above, it is easy to see what's ahead for Louisiana. The different shades of blue indicate water.
Louisiana should be commended for its frontal attack on global warming. There is probably no place in the country where the impacts of climate change are so visible. However, the state's approach to adapting to and mitigating the losses from this current "existential crisis," as the LA SAFE plan calls it, shows the resiliency and strength of Louisiana's citizens.
More about Louisiana, Global warming, existential crisis', LA SAFE, Relocation
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