Monday, November 21, 2005

Tim Kusky Replies To My Email

Professor Tim Kusky, who's expertise is in "ophiolites, rock sequences that formed on the oceanic edge of tectonic plates, in the Archaen eon about 3 billion years ago" and not natural disasters, and who was interviewed on 60 Minutes last night stating that New Orleans should be abandoned, replied to an email I sent to him last night...

Hi Troy,

Thank you for your e-mail. I understand your concerns about the comments I made on this week's 60 Minutes program on CBS. However, I firmly stand behind the opinion that I stated.

For years, scientists have warned that a large hurricane would bring many problems for New Orleans. Hundreds of scientific studies and surveys support the fact that New Orleans is subsiding even farther below sea level. The maps that I referred to in the 60 Minutes story were U.S. government maps showing significant erosion in New Orleans' land mass in just 24-36 hours after Katrina.

The United States Geological Survey also supports this fact. In 2000, Dr. Chip Groat, director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Washington, D.C., warned that "With the projected rate of subsidence (the natural sinking of land), wetland loss, and sea level rise, New Orleans will likely be on the verge of extinction by this time next century." You can read more on the USGS Web site:

I have studied geological sciences for more than 20 years and have written numerous books, journal articles and magazine articles on the topic. In my 2003 book Geological Hazards, I addressed this very issue. Unfortunately, I feel that all of these warnings fell on deaf ears.

I understand this is a tumultuous time for New Orleans and its residents. However, I believe this is the proper time to be asking questions about the rebuilding process. While I realize that this is a sensitive topic, I spoke out because of my concern for the residents of New Orleans. It is my hope that the scientific communities' research and observations will help save lives in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to write and express your opinion. I think we can agree that we both want what is best for the citizens of New Orleans.


Timothy Kusky, Ph.D.
Paul C. Reinert Professor of Natural Sciences
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Louis University

I appreciate that he took the time to have a research assistant email me back, but that still does not explain why he would espouse such beliefs regarding New Orleans and not have similar feelings regarding every city on the west coast in an earthquake zone, most cities on the Gulf Coast (including Houston which is also sinking) and throughout the southeastern United States.

Yes, we AND the Federal Government have known for 30 years or longer about the subsidence issues in southeast Louisinana, all of which were primarily caused by the Federal Government trying to tame the Mississippi River and by big oil who was allowed to dredge out channels through the marshes which allowed saltwater intrusion.

If I remember correctly, many billions of dollars was spent on rebuilding Lake Okechobee and the surrounding marshes in Florida, and they do not even have oil, seafood and one of the most important ports in America attached to it.

So why are we the ones getting the shaft? New Orleans and Louisiana's importance to the growth of this country as a whole is of dire importance... ask any farmer up in the midwest if they'd care to truck their products to one of the other coasts or would this country prefer to have offshore drilling off the coasts of Florida or an even larger presence off the coast of California.

The answer to all of that is I'm positive, no.

It's is also worth taking note that the Italians are actually trying to save Venice and the Dutch have for years worked on flood control for their low-lying country... yet, the most powerful nation on the planet wants to potentially abandon half a state and a major city... very curious.


Anonymous Nikka said...

Professor Kusky can talk all he wants. As long as there are people, like you and so many others, who love New Orleans and call it home, the city will be rebuilt. At bottom, a city is nothing more or less than many people living together in a place, calling that place by the same name, and sticking it out there even when times are hard. Really, I'm curious to hear how a fellow from St. Louis, or anyone else for that matter, hopes to stop New Orleans from being rebuilt. Y’all are still there, rebuilding it, every damn day. Nothing and no one can stop that.

10:20 PM, November 22, 2005  

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