THE BLOG
08/31/2005 05:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If Carter beat Reagan in 1980, would New Orleans have flooded?

Would New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast be suffering so terribly today if President Carter beat back Reagan in 1980?

First, before I make my point here, I feel the right thing to do would be to point you to a resource where you can find out how you can help. The Network For Good's site is at: http://www.networkforgood.org/.

People are hurting, homeless, crying, dying. Make a donation first. Then, and only then, would I feel comfortable if you consider the points I am about to make here. They are stark, but deal with our relationship with this planet, and ways in which we assess the priority of being friendly enough to the planet to minimize risk to our lives and all that we hold dear.

Can't say I am unsympathetic to the plight of America's new Bangladesh. I have a sister with a yard full of downed trees caused by winds from Hurricane Katrina. She's the same sister who had to rebuild her home after an earlier hurricane.

Still I am wondering if those voters in Louisiana and Mississippi who helped polluter-allied Reagan win in 1980 would have found themselves fated differently under a second Carter term. If Carter came in, we could have had an alternative fuels program and tighter auto emission standards in effect by now.

Sparked by his prodding, we might have had decades of global warming controls in place.

Whose to say if those steps might not have rendered the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf even 1/100th of a degree cooler than they are now?

Then tonight, comes this report from Salon.com:

"In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late."

The report adds that for every two miles of wetland between New Orleans and the Gulf water surges from the Gulf are held back by six inches. But in 2003, The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency said they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were involved with interstate commerce.

Plainly, as President Bush had other priorities - such as speechifying for a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage and chasing non-existent WMD- another type of WMD- Wetlands of Marsh Destruction- was quietly being developed in the swamp. Plainly, the ability of the marshes to intercept Crescent City-bound raging water have been reduced.

And what about the bigger, global warming trend that has caused the average temperature of the Gulf to spike up as many as two degrees in the last several years?

Since hurricanes need warm water to feed, what if that temperature difference- however slight- might have caused Katrina to be slightly weaker? What if that, in turn, would have caused Lake Pontchartrain, which ultimately connects to the Gulf-to be a little "kinder and gentler?"

In this cause-and-effect natural world of ours, this might have meant the big brackish lake that forms New Orleans' northern boundary might have crested just short of the levees rather than breaching them.

Sadly, we'll never know. And right now, we have a fun and beautiful part of the world - a world where I have played in a bit too extensively -looking more like habitually flood-ravaged Bangladesh every day.

But don't worry. Thanks to Reagan and both Bushes, that offshore oil platform where your brother works is still paying.

Oh, wait. That offshore oil platform's floating out to sea?

But don't worry. Thanks to Reagan and both Bushes, "moral values" are still in place in your neighborhood.

But how's that? Your neighborhood's gone?