THE BLOG
09/05/2005 12:06 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

1993: Gore Book Warns Louisiana of Flood Risk; 2000: La. Electoral Votes Provide His Margin of Defeat

Before I make my point, please help. Here's a link to the Red Cross donation site.

Now, let us look at some painful facts.

In the 2000 Presidential election, Louisiana's nine electoral votes provided the margin George W. Bush needed to defeat Al Gore, 271-266. Carry Louisiana and Gore would have won- Florida or no Florida.

Seven years before that election, the same Al Gore warned Louisiana that the type of crisis they are facing now was coming.

In his 1993 book "Earth In The Balance," Gore specifically wrote about the future effects of global warming on the low-lying areas of southern Louisiana.

Gore wrote:

"The net effect of all the warming and melting is a steadily rising sea level, almost one inch per decade now, with collateral effects such as the invasion by salt water of freshwater aquifiers in coastal areas and the loss of coastal wetland aquifiers.

"I studied one such area in Louisiana in 1989, Bayou Jean Lafitte, where a strip of land no more than two feet high and five feet wide at places separates the salt water of the rising ocean from the fresh water in one of the most productive breeding grounds in the United States. The next storm surge may breach the barrier and destory the freshwater ecosystem of the bayou.

"The combination of storms and higher sea levels has caused steadily worsening erosion in virtually all coastal areas."

Gore went on to say:

"In some coastal cities like Miami, the freshwater acquifier on which it relies for its drinking water actually floats on salt water, so that rising seas would push the water table up - in some cases to the surface. As noted in a recent WorldWatch Institute study of rising sea levels, Bangkok, New Orleans (Bold face and italics are mine), Taipei and Venice are among the other major cities facing similar problems."

Gore then added:

"Warming oceans are also likely to cause the average hurricane to be more powerful, scientists say,because the depth and warmth of the ocean's top layer is the single most important factor in determining the speed of a hurricane's winds. More powerful and more frequent storms coming into the land from the ocean would in turn (boldface and italics are mine) greatly exacerbate the damage from rising sea levels, for it is during storm surges that the sea advances farthest inland from the coast."

I am not suggesting that a Louisiana nod to Gore, and Gore's subsequent election would have stopped the hurricane in its tracks. But the truth is that he would have been in a position to shape public policy in a way that even just a more enlightened environmental regulation or two (not to mention better FEMA oversight) might have tipped the scale toward a less severe impact.

But that can only be supposition. Instead we have reality.

So how did that reality happen?

Seven years after Gore wrote those prophetic words, here's how southern Louisiana parishes outside heavily Democratic New Orleans that were to be substantially impacted by Katrina voted in the election that could have made at least a bit of difference:

Ascension Parish-Bush,16,818; Gore, 13,385.

East Baton Rouge Parish- Bush, 89,128; Gore,76,516.

Jefferson Parish- Bush, 105,003; Gore,70,411.

Livingston Parish- Bush, 24,889; Gore,11,008.

St.Charles Parish- Bush,11,981; Gore,8,918.

St. Tammany Parish- Bush, 59,193; Gore,22,722.

Tangipahoa Parish- Bush,20,421; Gore, 15,843.

Washington Parish- Bush,8,983; Gore, 7,399.

I hope that what's happened becomes a teachable moment.

But far more than that, please help.