Monday, October 17, 2005

Dam It, Janet

Oh you can't beat a good quote from the Rocky Horror Show for a post about flood defences and levees. These pictures come via the one who shall be known as "Biopolymer Chris"; the GDP numbers come from the CIA World Fact Book:

Flood defence system under construction around Venice. Venice is one of Italy's top tourist draws, a historically significant city, and generates billions for the national economy. Italy's GDP: $27,700 (30th globally)

London's Thames Flood Barrier, completed in 1986 at a cost of £370 million. London is Britain's top tourist draw, a historically significant city, a major port, and generates billions for the national economy. Britain's GDP: $29,600 (19th globally)

Flood protection, New Orleans. New Orleans is one of the United States' top tourist draws, a historically significant city, a major port, and generates billions for the national economy.
The USA's GDP: $40,100 (2nd globally)


jamie said...

interesting. in one of the books i'm reading right now, there's a chapter on floods that tells the story of the great flood of 1993 that devastated the Midwest and resulted in the town of Valmeyer, Illinois being destroyed. but rather than rebuild on the floodplain, the whole town was relocated further upland. the author then asks the question of whether the government should continue to subsidize the rebuilding of structures/areas/entire cities in hurricane/flood areas when the likelihood is that they will be damaged or destroyed again within several decades. this was written before Katrina, etc. but you have to wonder how it makes sense for the government to spend this money when the insurance companies are now refusing to issue policies for a lot of these areas. while no one wants to deprive anyone of their home or completely dimiss the history and heritage of these places, shouldn't we be a little bit smarter about development of danger-prone areas moving forward?

but then i hear people talking about rebuilding the Gulf Coast while saying that though brick structures are sturdier and can better withstand wind/water, they're more expensive and thus it's unlikely that many people will pay to build them. as the old saying goes, you can pay for it now, or you can pay for it (4 times over) later. i guess it's to be expected in this credit-using, debt-ridden country of ours.

weasel said...

Now that looks like an interesting book. I'll admit to knowing very little about urban planning, structural engineering, or hydrodynamics so I'm content just to sit on the sidelines lobbing the occasional hand grenade. I have a feeling that whatever the details any reconstruction will follow Weasel's First and Second Laws:

1) When Government=Bush Administration, chance of project failure is proportionate to level of moral certitude and determination emenating from the Oval Office.

2) Chances squandered for goodwill, fast completion of project, and successful conclusion directly corollate with both the number of ideological under-pinings cited for a policy and the the number of large contributor patronage contracts/jobs doled out.