Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Broken Levee Blues

Maybe we are going to need a catastrophe to make us wake up. Maybe, the catastrophe is at hand, but we don't want so face that fact.

Lonnie Johnson faced it with the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. This was the time of press gangs of black sent to man the levees and who died when the levees broke. He wrote and performed Broken Levee Blues.



Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie remembered too, but this version if from Led Zeppelin.

Then came the Great US Flood of 1993.
From May through September of 1993, major and/or record flooding occurred across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Fifty flood deaths occurred, and damages approached $15 billion. Hundreds of levees failed along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

The magnitude and severity of this flood event was simply over-whelming, and it ranks as one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Approximately 600 river forecast points in the Midwestern United States were above flood stage at the same time. Nearly 150 major rivers and tributaries were affected. It was certainly the largest and most significant flood event ever to occur in the United States
The can Karina and Rita and the levee failures of New Orleans. Much has been written about that and the disaster that could have been avoided if they had not spent levee money building bridges to gambling boats.

So, now we have another flood, washing out much of the corn crop in Iowa and now threatening 30+ levees on the Mississippi River, one of which has failed at Gulfport, IL.

So, what are we doing now? We all have out battles to fight... like sitting in the trees at Berkeley. And, guess what the media covers? You go it. Berkeley. I rather agree with both the content and the volume of Georgianne Nienaber post at OpEd News today.
Even the mainstream Associated Press is starting to tune into what will be the most massive infrastructure failure this country has ever faced. Meanwhile, all of the left wing pundits on these pages are so eternally distracted by politics as usual that they are missing the big picture. You are all fiddling the same tune while the Midwest is drowning.

The Heartland is under siege and as usual the left is ignoring the people who hold this country together.

There are now 33 levees in danger of breaching—up from 27 yesterday. New breaches and bridge and road closings are occurring by the hour and the pundits are worried about wasting time and energy on Bush and Cheney. What is the matter with all of you?

The great experiment of journalism on the internet is one big whopping failure as far as I can tell. Stop regurgitating intellectual crap about politics as usual and get on the stick and dig deep into the WHY of this story.

Did any of you go to journalism school? Who, what, where, when and why?

I’m mad and I’m not gonna take it anymore.
You might say that this is all far away and that Berkeley is at least on the CA Map. You should be asking what our State Laughaslaughter is doing about our own failing levees.

You might want to say that speech is important, and it is. You should be asking why we had a 200 year flood in 1993 and what, at least in Cedar Rapids, IA, has been called a 500 year flood. Those are pretty close together. Have we reached a tipping point?

(quoting Lorna Salzman).
Under discussion is the rate at which these things are initiated and how fast they proceed. If the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheet are lost, ocean level WILL rise at least 25 metres, but over what period we dont know. What we do know is that when the earth's temperature was last about 2.5 degrees C. and CO2 was 400 ppm more or less, the sea was 25 metres higher than it is today.

Since we are now at about 389 ppm CO2 now, and this is increasing by 2 ppm each year, it seems rational to conclude that we have only about five years to avoid the CO2 concentration tipping point.


Like Georgiane, I am getting close to my own tipping point where I don't give a damn about all of the political games being played, triangulations for ever smaller and smaller blocks of votes and fewer and fewer people vote.

In the words of Bill Cosby's Noah routine... "How long can you tread water?"

5 comments:

Alex Walker said...

Once again...

A brilliant post, Wes. Don't forget the "flip-side" of floods and hurricanes in the East is drought and wildfires in the Southwest.

And as hundreds of thousands of poor people in Mexico and Central America flee from deteriorating conditions (with many dying in the deadly wilderness of Arizona) the racist "conservatives" start pissing and foaming about "illegal aliens" invading our country.

It's a helluva thing when you step back and look at the "Big Picture" which may be one reason why a lot of folks don't want to do it.

Alex Walker said...

Hey Wes,

Do you know what's up with Green Commons?

This is a bad time for the "netroots" of the Green Party to be offline.

Wes said...

Thanks, Alex. After spending a weekend listening to my wife and her two sisters talk about me in Japanese, some of which they thought I did not understand, my ego needs a boost.

More to come on this issue.

Lisa said...

btw, how is the eco-situation/effectiveness of Green Party in Japan?

Wes said...

Lisa, I can't answer that question. The only contact path that I have is the person who spoke in Brazil on one of the videos that Mike F. furnished.