Report: Louisiana Coastal Residents Agree They Face ‘Existential’ Crisis

Insurance getting more expensive

Insurance rates are rising as south Louisiana’s coast erodes. (

“Shrill” and “existential” are two words I have spent a lot of time living with over the past few years.

I’ve been reporting about how peer-reviewed research, projected trends and actual ground-based measurements show that if the causes of our landscape’s subsidence and sea level rise are not addressed in the next two decades, by 2067 much of the bottom third of Louisiana will be submerged by the Gulf of Mexico — or it will become so vulnerable to storm surge it will be unlivable. As a result, I have termed those threats “existential” – literally a threat to this region’s existence.

For those warnings I have been labeled “shrill” by a number of readers as well as various politicians and others working for the industries that have contributed to these problems.

In this case “shrill” means way too loud and emotional, over-the-top, sensationalist. In other words, trying to call a rain shower a storm surge.

So, it was with a certain sense of redemption that I read headlines from across the nation last week like these:

“Louisiana’s new climate plan addresses ‘existential crisis’”

“Levees won’t save Louisiana from a climate ‘existential crisis’”

“Louisiana unveils ambitious plan to get people out of the way of climate change

Those reporters were not quoting me, but words from a major report released by the state’s own Department of Community Development on what kind of future — if any — southern Louisiana has as seas rise and the land sinks.

Right there in the introduction to its 1,500-page road map for survival — compiled not just by academics and researchers but also by the people living in our threatened communities — comes this admission:

“Louisiana is in the midst of an existential crisis. We must accept that some areas of Louisiana cannot be preserved as is and that some residents will have less land and more water, potentially impacting their livelihoods and communities.”

The authors of that statement include the people who live in Louisiana’s coastal zone, the people who have been watching those impacts tear their land and lives apart.

Does this make them “shrill?”

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.