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By William R. Freudenburg, Robert B. Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai Erikson

When homes are flattened, cities submerged, and other people stranded with out electrical energy or maybe nutrition, we characteristic the pain to “natural mess ups” or “acts of God.” yet what if they’re neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing those catastrophes on ourselves?
 
That’s the provocative thought of disaster within the Making, the 1st booklet to acknowledge typhoon Katrina no longer as a “perfect storm,” yet a tragedy of our personal making—and person who may develop into regular.  
 
The authors, one an established New Orleans resident, argue that breached levees and sloppy emergency reaction are only the obvious examples of presidency failure. the real challenge is extra deeply rooted and insidious, and stretches some distance past the Gulf Coast.
 
in line with the fake promise of common prosperity, groups around the U.S. have embraced all manufacturers of “economic improvement” in any respect charges. In Louisiana, that intended improvement pursuits turning wetlands into transport lanes. by means of exchanging a average buffer opposed to typhoon surges with a 75-mile lengthy, out of date canal that fee 1000's of thousands of bucks, they guided the typhoon into the guts of latest Orleans and adjoining groups. The authors show why, regardless of their geographic alterations, California and Missouri are building—quite literally—toward comparable destruction.
 
Too usually, the U.S. “growth desktop” generates wealth for a number of and distress for plenty of. Drawing classes from the costliest “natural” catastrophe in American background, disaster within the Making exhibits why inconsiderate improvement comes at a value we will be able to in poor health afford.

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Additional info for Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow

Example text

For millennia, the river has delivered topsoil from the regions we now know as Iowa, Tennessee, South Dakota, and beyond. In the process, all of that muddy water has built up an everbroadening swath of wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico. The result is a vast, open region—known by geologists as an alluvial or deltaic plain—that stretches across almost 200 miles of southern Louisiana, from the Chandeleur Islands, off the coast of Mississippi, on the east, to Vermilion Bay on the west. Filling a jar full of Mississippi water and then setting it down and watching the suspended particles settle—which they do only slowly—can offer a small-scale illustration of the process.

The heaviest particles tend to drop the fastest, being deposited closest to the river channels, along the banks of the river. Over time, these deposits gradually build up the region’s “natural levees”—stretches of elevated ground running along the banks of active rivers and bayous. To people from other areas, bayous look like slow-moving rivers. Technically, the distinction is that the water in a bayou can reverse the direction of its flow as the tide rolls in and out, but like many other technical distinctions, this one has often been handled in a relaxed way in the naming of Louisiana’s waterways.

It was just four years after the new city was officially founded that New Orleans became the capital of French Louisiana, in 1722. Still, the region would have few settlers of European ancestry until the middle and later years of the 1700s. A key part of that change took place after the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau and the 1763 Treaty of Paris—which ended what France and Britain remember as the Seven Years’ War, or what most American schoolchildren learn to call the “French and Indian War”—when France ceded New Orleans, plus the vast area drained by the Mississippi River, to the Spanish.

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