This is Professor Houck’s cri de coeur, written shortly after Katrina. It is worth reading to catch a sense of the times, and rereading if you have not read it since it came out. There is much I agree with in this paper, and where we disagree, it is partially because circumstances have changed since it was written – for example, it was written when there was hope that New Orleans would use this as opportunity to rethink its footprint, and when there was hope that FEMA would enforce realistic flood maps and prevent the redevelopment of high risk areas. Neither happened, and in both cases, the result is more, not less high risk development than before. Worse, the failure to plan the recovery in New Orleans has left many parts of the city an unsupportable patch work, expensive to service and impossible to police.
In other areas we differ because I believe data that shows that the combination of subsidence and even the most conservative estimates of ocean rise make a mockery of coastal restoration. Some of this was know before Katrina, but the data keeps getting better and more damning.
Over the next few days, I will adding posts discussing specific issues raised by the paper. As he has time, Professor Houck will join the discussion, and I hope others will as well.