Monday, February 6, 2017

Ain't There No More: Louisiana's Disappearing Coastal Plain

Ain't There No More:
Louisiana's Disappearing Coastal Plain

by By Carl A. Brasseaux and Donald W. Davis

I recall hearing a story years ago on NPR regarding LA's disappearing coast. What stuck with me was the idea that the "boot" we are all familiar with from maps isn't as "boot-like" as it once was. Just for an idea of what I'm talking about, here is an image from the USGS publication Louisiana Coastal Wetlands: A Resource At Risk.

Crazy right? This book is the first in a series to be published by the University of Mississippi about the disappearing coastal mashes of Louisiana. Their intent is to influence the bureaucratic machine that is currently making major decisions affecting the coast without understanding what they are doing. This first installment gives a primer on coastal erosion and the manmade systems in place, as well as the history of industrialization and agriculture in the state.

Being honest, I'm not sure that I understand much more about the problem than I did before. The chapter on the history of LA's mashes and waterways went above my head in several places and wasn't especially easy for me to understand. The chapters on industrialization and agriculture were very interesting and they gave a general idea of how each industry affected coastal erosion. The last chapter was the most impactful since it mainly concerned the damage that storms and levy systems have wrought upon the coast. At the end the authors even list over 20 coastal communities that don't even exist anymore because they are underwater.

Under. Water. Ya'll. 

And maybe it's just my fear of the ocean, but that is scary in a real way. Places that just don't even exist anymore because the ocean is slowly encroaching and we have systematically destroyed the natural systems that kept this from happening for centuries.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series being published because I feel like the authors have a lot more to say. A lot of the photos and documents shown throughout are from the authors private collection so they clearly are passionate about stopping LA's coastal erosion. Definitely worth a read if you are even remotely interested in the topic.

Copy courtesy of University Press of Mississippi/America's Third Coast Series, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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