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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘louisiana

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that a Toronto family known for its Christmas lights display may be forced to ratchet back by city inspectors.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the apparent discovery of Kuiper Belt objects around white dwarf WD 1425+540.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper examining the possible orbital inclination of Proxima Centauri b, and points to another one speculating about upper limits to the masses of other exoplanets orbiting P_roxima Centauri.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to interviews with different historians noting how close the United States is to a scenario from 1930s Germany.
  • The LRB Blog notes that the actions of the American deep state to undermine elements of the Trump Administration seen as potentially threatening will certainly also undermine American democracy.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw looks at reasons for the continuing gap in life outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer links to a paper looking at the effect of Huey Long’s populism on Louisiana’s economy, noting that he had little effect on the markets. This suggests that counting on the markets to reign in populists before the crash may be a mistake.
  • Strange Maps links to a map and history of the Gagauz of Moldova.
  • Torontoist looks at the continuing decline of live music venues in Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes the origins of Der Spiegel‘s cover art showing Trump with the severed head of lady liberty in a Cuban exile’s work.
  • Window on Eurasia notes differences between how Russians and Americans think about ethnicity and citizenship in their diverse societies.

[LINK] “Louisiana History Washes Away As Sea Levels Rise, Land Sinks”

NPR’s Tegan Wendland reports on how rising sea levels, arguably felt more in low-lying Louisiana than elsewhere, are contributing to the literal erosion of the state’s history.

Louisiana is losing its coast at a rapid rate because of rising sea levels, development and sinking marshland. Officials are trying to rebuild those marshes and the wetlands, but much of the coast can’t be saved. This makes Louisiana’s history an unwitting victim. As land disappears and the water creeps inland, ancient archaeology sites are washing away, too.

Richie Blink was born and raised in Plaquemines Parish, La. — way down south of New Orleans along the Mississippi River. Now he works for the National Wildlife Federation.

[. . .]

What’s locally known as the “Lemon Trees” is a stand of weathered old trees on a grassy tuft of land. It’s a well-known landmark for fishermen, but Blink says they would rarely stop there to hunt or fish because it’s a sacred Native American site.

“The legend goes that you were always to bring some kind of sacrifice, so somebody left some lemons for the ancestors,” Blink says.

And those grew into big trees with grapefruit-sized lemons. But as land was lost to the Gulf of Mexico, saltwater made its way into the freshwater marsh, killing off the trees and other plants.

The trees stand like skeletons on the edge of this scrappy, wind-beaten island. Waves beat against the dirt, washing it away, exposing shards of ancient pottery.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Beyond the Beyond notes how astronomers are now collecting dust from space in their gutters, without needing to go to Antarctica.
  • blogTO notes the many lost dairies of mid-20th century Toronto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at how volatiles freeze out in protoplanetary disks.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper considering the exploration of ocean worlds.
  • Far Outliers links to a report of a Cossack mercenary working in North America for the British in the War of American Independence.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the grave and the life of Homer Plessy.
  • Steve Munro looks at some possibly worrisome service changes for the TTC.
  • pollotenchegg notes trends in urbanization in post-1970 Ukraine.
  • Strange Maps looks at a scone map of the British Isles.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Anthropology.net notes that schizophrenia is not an inheritance from the Neanderthals.
  • D-Brief notes a recent study of nova V1213 Cen that drew on years of observation.
  • Dangerous Minds shares a Simple Minds show from 1979.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog argues in favour of educating people about how they consume.
  • Far Outliers notes the mid-12th century Puebloan diaspora and the arrival of the Navajo.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen reports on the Faroe Islands.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the impending launch of the OSIRIS-REx probe.
  • Spacing Toronto examines through an interview the idea of artivism.
  • Strange Maps notes the need to update the map of Louisiana.
  • Torontoist introduces its new daily newsletters.
  • Understanding Society examines liberalism’s relationship with hate-based extremism.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians are concerned about their country’s post-Ukraine isolation but not enough to do anything about it, and looks at the generation gap across the former Soviet space.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes this weekend is going to be warm.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at moons of the dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at some photos of American malls taken in the late 1980s.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a white dwarf that stole so much matter from its stellar partner to make it a brown dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Greenland may not have been particularly warm when the Vikings came.
  • Language Hat tells the story of one solitary person who decided to learn Korean.
  • Language Log writes about Sinitic languages written in phonetic scripts.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map showing how New Orleans is sinking.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests Brexit is not a good strategy, even in the hypothetical case of a collapsing EU. Why not just wait for the collapse?
  • The New APPS Blog notes with concern the expansion of Elsevier.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the perennial divisions among the Kurds.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders what’s wrong with Bernie Sanders.
  • Towleroad looks at the impending decriminalization of gay sex in the Seychelles.
  • Understanding Society looks at the work of Brankovich in understanding global inequality.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Crimean Tatars are no longer alone in remembering 1944, and looks at the unhappiness of Tuva’s shrinking Russophone minority.

[ISL] On the end of Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles

The National Post carries Coral Davenport and Campbell Robertson’s article in The New York Times noting the end of an inhabited island just off the Louisiana coast.

Each morning at 3:30, when Joann Bourg leaves the mildewed and rusted house that her parents built on her grandfather’s property, she worries that the bridge connecting this spit of waterlogged land to Louisiana’s terra firma will again be flooded and she will miss another day’s work.

Bourg, a custodian at a sporting goods store on the mainland, lives with her two sisters, 82-year-old mother, son and niece on land where her ancestors, members of the Native American tribes of southeastern Louisiana, have lived for generations. That earth is now dying, drowning in salt and sinking into the sea, and she is ready to leave.

With a first-of-its-kind “climate resilience” grant to resettle the island’s native residents, Washington is ready to help.

In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totalling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems.

One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.

“We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 4, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[ISL] “The First U.S. Climate Refugees”

Bloomberg View’s Christopher Flavelle looks at how a small coastal village in Louisiana is set to become a test case, as the first American community to be evacuated because of environmental change (sea level rise, and the collapse of the Mississippi delta).

Early one morning at the beginning of March, two black Chevy Suburbans filled with federal and state development officials left New Orleans for Louisiana’s coast. Almost two hours later, they turned onto Island Road, a low spit of asphalt nearly three miles long with water on either side. At the other end was Isle de Jean Charles, a community of 25 or so families that is sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. The officials had a plan to save the town: by moving it someplace else.

Global warming presents governments the world over with two problems. One is to slow the pace of climate change. The other is to adapt to what humans have already wrought, either by protecting buildings and infrastructure from rising tides and extreme weather, or by moving people out of harm’s way. The second part is harder — so hard, in fact, that the U.S. government has never done it. At least not quite like this.

In January, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it would give Louisiana $48 million to resettle Isle de Jean Charles. The state won the money by promising not just to move its people, who are members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, but to do it in a way that creates a model that other towns and cities might share. (Most pressing are several communities in Alaska, which face similar challenges.)

“We have never done anything at this scale,” said Marion McFadden, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for grants. She said the project, still in the planning phase, is an attempt to learn how to explain “the value of relocating” to a community while involving its members in “designing their own new home or homeland.”

In other words, how do you persuade people to abandon their town in an orderly fashion, before it becomes uninhabitable? How do you ensure their new home is one they’re satisfied with, rather than a glorified refugee camp? And how do you safeguard against central planning gone berserk?

If it works, the resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles will show that government-sponsored climate migration is viable, at least on a small scale. If it fails — if the new community never gets finished, if residents refuse to move, if the project runs far over budget — the story of the island will be a cautionary one, demonstrating the political, financial and psychological limits of our ability to adapt to global warming.

Beneath those criteria is one of the most vexing dilemmas in the climate-change debate: How should society choose which communities get protected and which must move? Isle de Jean Charles shows how little progress the government has made in answering that question.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 21, 2016 at 4:54 pm