Louisiana Not Heeding Its Best Advice on Climate Change

Cat Island Disappears beneath our feet

Cat Island disappears beneath our feet. Photo by Bob Marshall

Almost every day, news from around the world reinforces one of the most frustrating and dangerous paradoxes about our state: When it comes to its chances for coastal survival, Louisiana refuses to listen to its own best advice.

I’m talking here about the work of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. It has been given the responsibility for devising and implementing strategies to protect Louisiana communities and industries from a crisis gripping every coastal landscape on the planet: Accelerating sea level rise due to global warming.

And in a state not known for many positive things outside of football (Go, Tigers!) this agency has become recognized as one of the world’s leaders in the scientific, engineering and management breakthroughs for climate change adaptation.

A recent example was a headline that rightly shocked coastal countries everywhere: “New elevation data triples estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.”

Researchers have discovered the technology long used to estimate ground elevations for much of the planet has been off by as much as 6.5 feet. That means as many as 150 million people could be living below the high tide line by 2050. The report included a long list of major cities that would have to rush adaptation plans to meet the much more immediate threat.

No U.S. city was on the list — not even in Louisiana, with a coastal landscape sinking at one of the fastest rates in the world. That’s because our nation has been using better technology to accurately measure elevations. And Louisiana has been a leader in that area by developing the country’s most comprehensive and advanced landscape monitoring system.

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