The Sciences

Lawdy Lawd, Blame the Corps

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyNov 19, 2009 12:37 PM

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One of my favorite down home Louisiana songs is one by singer-songwriter Mike West, entitled "Corps of Engineers." The lyrics are here. I'll just give you the chorus:

folks round here got the fear of god everybody say lawdy lawd there's only one thing we fear more that's the corps of engineers The words seem particularly appropriate today as we learn that a federal judge has ruled that the Corps is (big surprise) responsible for the levee failures in Katrina--indeed, that the agency is guilty of "gross negligence," "insouciance, myopia and shortsightedness", and so forth. The Corps' poorly maintained Mississippi River Gulf Outlet made the damage from Katrina's storm surge worse, and the Corps knew it. It's a sad fact, but can't be ignored: Katrina was not simply an "act of God." Neither was it simply an act of global warming. It was a disaster caused as much by human failures as by the workings of nature.

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