Before the oil spill Louisiana’s own coast already faced enough peril. Now, what does the recent oil spill mean for Louisiana’s already fragile coastal ecosystem?
It’s said that since 1930 Louisiana’s coast has lost 1,500 square miles of coast and that it’s ecosystem is home to 40 percent of the wetlands in the United States. On average, that’s losing 40 square miles per year. With such coastal erosion, it’s likely Louisiana’s coast shrinks further down from that 40 percent every day.
What causes the coastal erosion?
It’s a combination of both natural factors and man-made as the mud that naturally built them sinks under it’s own weight over the years. Also, man-made levee systems that were poorly placed in the past may play a contributing factor to having sped up the process. Rising water levels from the gulf due to global warming may also play a factor.
Remember Katrina? The nation’s wetlands play an important part in slowing down hurricanes that threaten the gulf coast. When a storm hits, 2 feet are absorbed by every 2.7 miles of wetland. That means as the coast further erodes, the harder hurricanes will slam into it, meaning more flooding of Louisiana’s infrastructure.
What can be done to help fight it?
Experts aren’t exactly sure. Perhaps a better man-made water system could be put in place. Perhaps cutting down on man-made emissions that contribute to global warming. In 2006, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu traveled to Denmark to view their system of water management. Louisiana coastal protection has long been neglected.
The Oil Spill
While the oil spill from the sinking of an oil rig off the coast may not necessarily contribute to speeding up the coastal erosion, it has the possibility of devastating the wildlife that lives along the coast. Between 25 and 35 percent of the nation’s commercial fisheries are caught off the coast of Louisiana. In the meantime, the government has ordered a stop to further drilling off the coast.