The future for Gallier Hall?

New Atlantis, For Real

Have you read New Atlantis, John Swenson’s book about New Orleans music, post-Katrina?

It could be a lot worse…

It’s starting to cool off a little, although this year is now branded the hottest year in the history of keeping weather records. I find this a bit scary myself. I don’t think we’ll be baked off the planet or anything like that (at least in the foreseeable future), but it does concern me that the polar ice caps are melting, the sea level is rising, and by God, New Orleans and the coast of Louisiana are subject to becoming submerged in the not-too-far-distant future.

I happened to see a map published by the New Orleans Advocate on what the Louisiana coast could look like by the year 2100 if emissions that cause these environmental changes are not under control by 2050 (that’s not that far ahead, people), and it shocked me profoundly.

New Orleans will pretty much be an island, because I-10 will be underwater between Kenner and Gonzales. We’ll need to be taking the River Road to reach Baton Rouge.And who knows if I-10 East to Slidell won’t be underwater too?

Look, I have kids, and grandkids, and young nieces, nephews and friends, and I’m concerned about their future. I’m worried that New Orleans and a good part of southern Louisiana will sink into the Gulf of Mexico. What’s more concerning, though, is that all we need is one accurately targeted tropical storm (not even a hurricane) and we could kiss New Orleans goodbye if the sea level rises, even just a little. I doubt seriously if any of us who returned to New Orleans and rebuilt post-Katrina (I’m one of them) would be able to go through another devastation.

Look at the recent flooding in the river parishes. That could happen again. And we are certainly at more risk from flooding than Baton Rouge.

Are all the people from outside of Louisiana who have moved to the city in last five years ready to evacuate when the next storm comes our way? More importantly, would they be willing to come back to rebuild the city and the culture if they lost everything, as many people in New Orleans did in Katrina?

Personally, I don’t think so. Unless you’ve experienced what a hurricane can do, well, you just don’t get it. It’s one thing to come to the city to help rebuild and then move here because you love the vibe, but when you lose it all, I don’t think New Orleans will be so attractive then. The roots aren’t that deep.

Times are good in the city right now; it’s blowin’ and goin’.

The fate of New Orleans, southern Louisiana, and indeed, the entire coastal areas of the US are at stake (what could happen in Manhattan? I shudder to think).

Our city isn’t all about parties and opportunity and cheap living (compared to where you’ve lived before). It’s got a culture and a community that go back hundreds and hundreds of years, and a musical culture that’s influenced the world. In 25 years, I probably won’t be on this side of the earth, but my kids and friends will be. It’s up to you guys to put your foot down, get involved, and keep us from becoming the “New Atlantis.”