Audioburst Search

Global pressures on the Mississippi River

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Apiece deal on the horizon but bombings continue and afghanistan the head of hong conches government gets caught telling us how she really feels also today. We're taking a trip down the mississippi river on boats planes and canoes paddling through muddy backwaters waters they get torn up by the warns an eleven hundred mile journey to find out how this iconic waterway connects america to the rest of the world one in twelve people on earth ingest food made from mississippi river basin produced products and that is dependent on a working uh ecologically healthy mississippi river basin but the rivers ecological health is a big question mark. I'm marco werman. Today's top stories and the global stakes stakes along the mississippi coming up on the world. I'm marco werman. You're with the world. Residents of kabul. Were reminded last night that despite peace talks peace itself is not around the corner. A powerful bomb shook the afghan capital as many as thirty people died died. The bomb went off as afghans were watching a tv broadcast. Relaying positive news that a peace deal to end the war there had been struck in principle us envoy azzam khalilzad had been speaking with fulla nudge affi zodda a broadcaster for kabul-based tolo news. I spoke with nudge if he's audit today and he told me the bombing in kabul was talibans way of sending a message of intimidation. Let's not forget that there isn't a peace deal in place yet. Ambassador dodd was very very clear that they haven't signed it yet. As at bomb went off you were an interview with <hes> lozad this peace plan. We gotta remember it does not involve the afghan government. These talks doc. So what did i tell you what are the details of the draft agreement between the taliban and the u._s. Government they interview was prerecorded till he was on ask when the blast happened about dodd was saying that the document is closed there that made an agreement in principle missile is for president trump to finalize it and announce it the dealers to parse the u._s. Taliban part which is coming to an end and then the afghan taliban park doc which is going to begin afghans are worried that the gains of the past eighteen years would be compromised into peace deal. Did you talk talk about the fact that the afghan government has been completely shut out of u._s. Taliban negotiations. We understand the frustrations in kabul. That's the americans have not shared chat enough details with the afghan for instance. The ambassador has just shown the documents to the afghan leaders but has not handed over over a copy to them and that tells so much about the relationship between kabul and washington. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. I mean you asked on khalilzad. Whether the taliban oban would want to return to power in the way it had ruled previously in afghanistan. Here's what he told you to call. The police taste of what was he saying well. I think he was very straightforward. That <hes> return of islamic emirate by force is not an option and data red line for the united states that means that a taliban cannot overrun the country and take control of fast on a stand so whatever future afghanistan will we'll end up with it has to be agreed by all sides so halil zahed says that can't be an option boo our afghans feeling right at this moment about promises like that <hes> i think afghans wants an end to the bloodshed a hundred afghan style every single day in this country and the afghans want of course to build on the gains of the last last eighteen years and you know d._v. They want a taliban to be policy future of this country because they're also afghans so there has to be a political settlement so with this bomb blast yesterday did envelope khalilzad explain to you why he believes the taliban will respect any commitments. They make an agreement like why does he trust. Trust the taliban well. He didn't say he trusted a taliban nuts. He sat data the americans and in on taliban groups tried to win this war militarily for the past eighteen eighteen years and that option didn't produce results so now the only option is to engage with them politically so that is the u._s. Position but at the same time afghans to government included have also supported a political settlement would a taliban the only difference is the approach okay and how you engage with the taliban what ground rules on what conditions i think this is where there are some differences between the u._s. and the afghan government lutfullah. Thanks very much for your time. Thank you good to talk to you. Look fuller visas broadcaster for kabul-based tolo news. He was telling us about his interview last night. In in the afghan capital with us special envoy for afghanistan's army halil zahed and you thought politics in washington messy in britain lawmakers are walking away from their parties and switching teams. That's because prime minister boris johnson is threatening to yank his nation from the european union without a brexit deal that that means leaving the e._u. with no roadmap to govern future relations between britain and the e._u. Today british lawmakers launched a last-ditch attempt to stop that they've introduced a bill that would would make it illegal to just cut and run speaker. John berko holds an independent position in the british house of commons and he asked members support the emergency procedure to introduce a bill bill. Does the right honorable gentleman have the leave of the house the right honorable the janney clearly enjoys the support of the house and clearly the debate is hot and heavy with some twists several members of bars. Johnson's party are going going against him. That's despite his threats to expel them from the party if they do so one of those members was not waiting around for his pink slip. Philip lee crossed the aisle today that defection action please the leader of the opposition party jeremy corbyn. He isn't winning friends in europe. He's losing friends at home. His government with no mandate no morals and as of today no majority but just a further confused matters corbin's labor party is just as divided on brexit as has johnson's and some of corbin's members might throw their support behind johnson tonight to put this in american terms. This would be like republican senate majority leader mitch mcconnell walking walking away from president trump and nancy pelosi voting with the president prime minister johnson. He's not pleased by this. He said he will not surrender to the european union and that the actions chains in parliament today would undercut his negotiating hand with europe. It is a bill that if passed would force me to go to brussels cels and beg an extension it would force me to accept the terms offered it would destroy any chance of negotiation. However johnson has hinted that if he's defeated tonight he might call a general election. Perhaps as soon as mid october so so there is that okay who is really calling the shots in hong kong. It appears that it's not carrie lam the city's chief executive in a leaked audio recording putting lamb admits that handling the ongoing protests is largely out of her hands and the power lies instead in beijing with the ruling chinese communist party is what protesters there's have been saying all along that lamb is merely a puppet for the mainland government. Lamb called her failure unforgivable even her supporters agree. They're not calling her inept apt and this is bringing even more complications to an already complex landscape. The world's patrick win joins us from hong kong. This leaked audio patrick. What what did we actually the learn from it. Well we heard hong kong's top political leader admitting what a lot of people suspected but it seldom said so clearly in so explicitly really and that's when it comes to this protest movement and how the hong kong government is handling it beijing is calling the shots not her the political room hole that she'd executive who fortunately ask to serve to hostas cost. Your assange says she saying <hes> she's got two bosses. <hes> two masters astor's and political room to maneuver is very limited patrick if beijing and the chinese communist party are the ones pulling the strings here doesn't that in a way absolve carrie lam yeah. That's a really reasonable question but <hes> it's not quite that simple because if she was a more skillful leader she could have managed this so that beijing in could stay out of it and not medal. I talked to someone today who was a policymaker under the previous chief executive to hong kong. Her name is christine loh and she told me look no one likes to think about it but the chinese communist party has always been able to step in if unrest tilts towards a breach of national national security and is this what's going on in hong kong these past few months. Is it a breach of national security christine. Loh says yes it is inching towards a situation relation where the communist polit bureau would say hong kong administrators. Are you good over there. You got this under control or not but there's a ways to go before they a act on it and what's really interesting. She told me that protesters are fighting really hard for hong kong's autonomy right but by causing this madness in the streets. It's they're actually making the chinese communist party feel like it needs to metal more not less. <hes> and i think the mainland is saying well. If you'll going about it the way you are with the violence and so on. I'm never gonna give it said that. I think that's the key message so that's christine loh <hes> former policymaker under the last chief executive of hong kong. Where does the the story go from here patrick. I've been spending time with the protesters on the front lines. I can tell you marco. They are hell bent on keeping up the fight. The chinese government says says it always has had the right to send in the p. l. a. the people's liberation army to try to restore order. If it wants to the woman i talked to the former policymaker christine and low in her opinion ultimately the communist party knows this is going to drag on and they will probably just watch with annoyance as hong kong lashes out each week. It gets a little bit more intense so all eyes are on next weekend. The world's patrick win reporting from hong kong. Thanks very much patrick. Thank you marco. Hurricane dorian battered the bahamas this weekend and is on track to hit the coast of florida over the next twenty four hours in its wake is a path of destruction that bahamian prime minister hubert minutes called old unprecedented in the midst of star tragedy in pads of northern bahamas. <hes> mission and focus now is as such rescue and part of the reason the storm caused so much damage it moved really slowly it stalled over the bahamas and and then travel at just one mile per hour thrashing the islands with powerful winds and constant rain for two days residents and observers described the damage homes are completely destroyed. I honestly can say that. I do not think that there was at least one home that was left. Untouched <unk> awarded everywhere in areas is that we never seen flooding like my neighborhood. Never floods and right now is under about four or five feet of water. I feel like i'm floating this point. I am watching everything that i grew up on the takeaway from me just auto devastation from the constant pounding from the category five winds in the downpour. The deluge accumulated over forty or period <unk>. Storm really moved quite slowly recent research. It shows a dorian prolongs stall over the bahamas is part of a global trend. The world's caroline bieler joins me to explain why that is caroline. Hey marco against the why why in just a second but first the what research over the past few years has found that hurricanes have been stalling out over coastal areas more frequently in the last few decades parking over places like houston during hurricane harvey and now the bahamas to drop unprecedented amounts of rain study out of nasa and noah the national oceanic oceanic and atmospheric administration published. Just this summer found that north atlantic hurricanes are actually slowing down. They're going about seventeen percent slower today than they did did in the middle of the last century well so why is this happening like. Is there a climate change connection so scientists think this is happening because the winds that carry hurricanes are slowing going down not the hurricane winds themselves these two hundred mile an hour gusts were hearing about but the thick band of winds in the tropics and then above and below them that actually pushed these storms across the globe. There's not a scientific consensus just yet about exactly what the link is between global warming and these wind changes. This is really the cutting being edge of climate science but a leading hypothesis is that global warming and these wind changes are linked at least part of the cause is likely that as as the world warms the polls are warming faster than this sort of equator region so there's less of a temperature and pressure differential between the poles and the equator and so as has there's less of a pressure differential. This wins are less strong. Gotcha good explanation so how does this fit into the other ways we know climate change in hurricanes are linked so as i mentioned this stalling out phenomenon is a little bit more at the cutting edge of climate science but what we already know is pretty well established and their three things i that warmer ocean temperatures temperatures supercharge hurricanes by giving them more energy second more water vapor in our warmer air means more precipitation can fall and third as the world warms and sea levels rise risks from storm surges are higher as well the world's environment correspondent carolyn bieler thank you you're welcome. Marco <unk> bigger and wetter storms are becoming more frequent across the globe. Miss bring record rainfall hammered the american midwest it led to severe flooding along the mississippi threatening <unk> a vital trade card or just ahead. We look at the global reach of america's most majestic river on the world. I'm marco werman. You're with the world for the rest of the show today. We're going on a journey down. The mississippi river all right side four left side still backwards. If you wanna take a canoe trip from helena arkansas down the mississippi in normal times you just put your boat in the river and go off hours but these are not normal times normally not any water back here bunch of willow trees but right now the water that's canoe guide tanner al jets with the cooper river company and i'm jason margolis reporter with the world this spring in summer cities farms homes and businesses near the river have been besieged by flooding it was the wettest twelve month period ever recorded in the continental united united states driven by record precipitation throughout parts of the midwest much of that rain water and snow melt made its way into the mississippi drainage system and headed south south so finding a canoe path to the mississippi river in arkansas paddling through with thickets of trees that would normally be on dry land well. It's a mess then they got torn up by the foreign the challenge of our canoe ride will be the twenty first century challenge confronting the river too you much water eventually after an hour of struggle covering a mile and a half as the crow flies we punch through to the main channel of the mississippi looking good. Y'all keep it going welcome to the mississippi river. Uh marco werman back with you again today. We're taking a trip down the mississippi. The mississippi of today barely resembles the water system. Mark twain described in in the eighteen eighty s in his book life on the mississippi considering the missouri its main branch. It is the longest river in the world for thousand in three hundred miles. It seems safe to say that it is also the crooked us river in the world but since that time engineers have shaped contained and dredge the river transforming it into an efficient hydro superhighway to ship american products across the globe my customers for my corner all overseas they're all all overseas every one of them and if our transportation efficiency falls shackling the river is also brought some steep cost to the environment wildlife and cities towns along the mississippi and the challenges are only growing as climate change is added to the mix wetter weather in the midwest more intense hurricanes and sea you level rise. The flooding on the mississippi assure cost billions of dollars in damage and also lost business. They're underwater in fact this morning. The mississippi is buckling under the strain. The world's jason margolis brings us. This story of a river system caught between competing interests. The water that drains into the mississippi comes from thirty two states and two canadian provinces it all eventually pours out into the gulf of mexico is called gravity all got a pay us here. Here is bureaus louisiana about sixty miles southeast of new orleans. Ryan lambert runs duck hunting and fishing tourist. I his black lab logan sits by his side and a flat bottom boat a century ago. The mississippi river delta was an area of vast coastal marshes but in battle between land and water water is killing it. We've lost two thousand square miles in last seventy years which is in the grand canyon is one thousand nine hundred ninety six square miles. We've lost two thousand put another way. It'd be like wiping an area the size of delaware laware off the map then there's the football field stat. Everybody down here talks about the football field stat. Every one hundred minutes of football fields worth of land is swallowed by the sea while we're out here. We'll lose three football's lan while we're out here and it goes on twenty four hours a day seven days a week. Every single day we lose these wetlands aren't just critical to people who live work and play here when hurricanes reach land they lose strength and peter out the coastal marshes serves a crucial buffer a shock absorber as storms barrel their way to the urban areas up north the counter albertine. Gene kimball has a message for the folks sixty miles away in new orleans. No wetlands equals. No people just remember that then we protect new orleans if you don't save us you next with climate change scientists are predicting stronger and wetter hurricanes as ocean temperatures rise kimball says the impacts are already here. If if you see a mexican black billy treat up he i think things are changing absolutely in a storms and getting more wicked to you know kicking us. I'm not a scientist still. Let me state that fact but she says she knows the solution. The land here needs to be replenished. We wanna live here so how we do that. We you gotta compromise. That's it we don't compromise. None of us will be here so what exactly happened to louisiana's coastal wetlands. Where did they go. The sandon endon dirt they replenishes louisiana still hundreds of miles up north will die further into that a bit later. The transformation of the mississippi truly begins in the mid nineteenth nineteenth century explains bob chris professor emeritus of hydro geology at washington university in st louis. If we look at an old lithograph from eighteen fifty nine here's a fledgling city a saint louis and look at the steamboats look at this thing well what would have been great to travel in luxury unless you crashed which happened frequently back then chris shows a map from the mid nineteenth century error steamboat rex every mile for probably a thousand miles thank the commercial losses untamed river also put military vessels at the best and so the army corps engineers was brought in to shackle the mississippi. They did their job but not quite well enough. Cliff dean runs the delta alta cultural center museum in helena arkansas. My first name is actually james. I switched over to my middle name because when i started teaching james dean was pretty famous. The jimmy dean smoked sausage dean grew up in the mississippi delta hearing about the great flood of nineteen twenty seven an area roughly. The size of ireland was underwater. Some five hundred people died and more than six hundred thousand were displaced. The red cross called it one of america's greatest peacetime mm disasters. Dean's grandparents lived through it. He says one morning they woke up surrounded by water and the sheriff came by deputies made everybody getting boats. You had to leave and the men all had to go to try to to to to show up the ladies or to build new ditches or something to try to stop the water and if you didn't go i mean same people actually shot that didn't go to the labor rain rain water going come when the levee breaks by kansas this joe mccoy and memphis minnie from nineteen twenty nine the mississippi river connects the american heartland to the rest of the globe also shares the world's environmental problems. Oh we shouldn't have done it fifty years ago with today's the first day of my grandchildren's fifty years that started off. Let's get gone are eleven hundred mile journey down the mississippi continues. He's just ahead and raymond do <music>. I'm marco werman. The mississippi river is breaking all sorts of flood records this year people think we're nuts for living down here. I mean i mean how many people spend that much money to build that beautiful home knowing that the bottom's going to fill up with water learning to live with more water. We continue our trip down. The mississippi still ahead here on the world you. I'm marco werman and you're with the world. We're a co production of the b._b._c. World service w. h. Boston p._r._i. N._p._r. When the levee breaks led zeppelin from the nineteen seventies earlier we were talking about the great flood out of nineteen twenty seven which inspired the song we're devoting much of the show today to the mississippi river an iconic waterway that connects u._s. trade to the rest of the globe. Here's the world's jason margolis after nineteen twenty seven the u._s. Army core ramped up its efforts to contain the lower mississippi. They built higher and deeper for levees along with flood control structures and spillway. 's to relieve stress during high water events. It was one of the most ambitious engineering projects on earth and it's is largely work to protect river city's and keep trade flowing but with climate change many people along the river like cliff dean worry about how much longer the intricate intricate system can hold. It used to be like the twenty-seven floyd. You might have a hundred years before you have the next flood. I will now. We're beginning to get them every few years years. It's been a rough stretch along mississippi. Since hurricane katrina struck fourteen years ago hydro geologist bob chris isn't surprised by all the flooding the modern dan rivers is featureless as a strand of spaghetti and this has been done for navigation. Thank your blood pressure. This is your doc blood system going through your body. You eat a bunch of gunk and clog up. All your arteries who support this room is on life support for many policymakers. The solution is expensive pumps and more levees or higher ones. They make good photo ops but increasingly many people now think more levees and walls aren't the solution. The city of davenport iowa is nine hundred and fifty miles north of new orleans devonport decided that it isn't going to fight the river that can come with a steep cost though this spring several blocks of downtown were consumed by four to six feet of floodwater. We would have been water if we were driving where we are right now. Another we couldn't driven drove around downtown davenport with city council member marion mcginnis the city did put up temporary floodwalls but they breached water gushed in inundating buildings and cars within minutes when the mississippi's waters eventually retreated they left behind caked mud and dead fish in the streets. This is water filled with all kinds of unspeakable things because it's coming out of seward's words. It's coming out of everywhere so it's not something you want to go. <hes> frolicking through at all davenport has no permanent levy system to protect its waterfront and that's by choice like our riverview wing river you we love her. Wherever we can handle the devonport isn't ignoring the risks again it did erect temporary floodwalls this spring but it also develops some natural solutions to deal with flooding we drive along davenport's nine mile riverfront past several long stretching waterfront parks the city city had made decisions in the eighties and nineties to sort of clear property along the river front and let the river come in to a park. The idea is let the water come in and let it go back out. The city has also restored some marshes to take in flood waters it mimics a widely admired flood control system in the netherlands called room for the river devon port city leaders and even flooded out business owners say this helped minimize the damage this spring and that flooding wasn't actually bad it was contained to just a few blocks davenport's mayor frank clinch takes a holistic view of the river excess water has to go somewhere and it we'll find the next vulnerable spot downstream we don't build walls and push our problems down to arkansas louisiana and missouri and yesterday i was on a national conference call and the mayor of grafton illinois said thanked us for doing that because their city might have been totally inundated and <hes> and destroyed natural solutions. She's like wetlands restoration also generally more cost effective than permanent walls and levees of course. There's a big caveat walls and levees offer greater your protection and davenport. It's a risk to build near the river. Shawnee homes gets that she's one of a handful of people who lives right along the banks of the mississippi mississippi two months after the floods. The city was still removing debris and slime from the road to get to homes as place or about to go into mud city eddie. What is mode city the road the grading goes lower as grading goes lower. It filled up with more mud. How long have you lived on the river. All my life off and on people think we're nuts for living down here. I mean i mean i'm gonna people spend that much money to build that beautiful people home knowing that the bottom's gonna fill up with water us to protect your home. She lifted it up more than twenty feet and it worked this spring. I i received leave no water inside my house whatsoever. You can't win against mother nature you you can't you can't win the river. It's going to do what it's gonna do and you just live with it and you conform to what it needs but as severe river flooding becomes more frequent and is is expected to get worse with climate change i asked homes is it fair for her fellow taxpayers to pay to fix riverfront roads and services to accommodate a handful of residents residents who want to live right on the river. I pay taxes also so i look at it as though my taxes just cleaned my road but i do believe that if you come and you live on the river that you do it with open eyes and know that it's going to flood and you can't constantly be saying help me help me while the mississippi river has always flooded davenport and nearby cities. We're at flood stage this year for ninety ninety eight days for our south of devonport. I met with colin welland camp. Were in the city of arnold missouri. Just north along the mississippi river ver- stand next to a flooded city park next to the merrimack river it flows into the mississippi but because mississippi has been running so high the water in the merrimack is backing up and it's spilling over its banks. The floodwaters come within a few feet of the road. We're at where just a few homes are left standing since since nineteen ninety-three they have been buying this property out. The city wants people out of harm's way and land to absorb floodwaters. It's an idea woolen camp supports up and down the river countless acres of urban pavement have replaced spongy soil well in camp is the executive director of the mississippi river and towns initiative association of mayors across the ten states that border the mississippi. He says levy serve a purpose but his organization is looking for ways to return the river shed to a more natural state in order to protect these communities but these cities need help and woollen camp says washington needs to wake up an address what's going on. If you wanna call it climate change. You don't want to blame it on people fine. Don't that's that's your call but we've got to bring solutions to new main street because our people are suffering. We're going on camp says weather related events are costing the mississippi recorder between three and eight percent an annual economic growth. What does that mean dollar wise that means we've sustained over two hundred billion dollars in actual losses in the corridor since two thousand and five and we'll and camp estimates that this year's flooding could end up costing the river basin another four billion dollars he factors property damage crops that couldn't be planted and stuck barges that can't move products up and down the river and he says make no mistake these costs are passed along to all of us one in in twelve people on earth ingest food made from mississippi river basin produced products all the manufacturing all the agriculture and then all the equipment that goes into that into that economy impacts all the cities in the country from new jersey to california and that is dependent on a working ecologically healthy mississippi river basin cross the river. Go a few miles north and you're an east saint louis illinois stand behind a thick pane of glass with tyler burr veep who manages the cargill plant here a truck dumps corn into a grain elevator. It's a it's a vertical belt conveyor with a bunch of buckets on it and gets up at the top and then dumps in and then based on wherever the corners being moved just a few hundred yards two barge's waiting on the river river transport is the most efficient way to get corn soybeans and wheat from the midwest to the port of new orleans than shipped across the globe one river tugboat pulling barges can transport the same amount as two thousand five hundred trucks. You couldn't take twenty five hundred semis from saint louis in new orleans orleans and four days <hes> you just couldn't do it. You know the fuel the labor it would take <hes> how would crowd the highway infrastructure according according to research from texas a. and m. barges are four times as fuel efficient as trucks and about twenty five percent more fuel efficient and trains. It's not just corn and soy a floating down. The river furniture clothes oil products steel and chemicals you name it. They all flow in and out of the gulf coast for illinois farmers like gregg guenther gunther access to cheap river transport is crucial to compete in the global marketplace my customers for my corner all overseas. They're all overseas every one of them and we're in a highly competitive situation now. With south america brazil argentina <hes> china does a little alexa sporting a corn and all these other countries are competing for the same customers were competing for and if our transportation efficiency falls calls to where we're not the lowest cost supplier. We don't get the business and trade flows. Both ways exporters in asia europe and south america also need eat a healthy port of new orleans. Sean duffy is with the big river coalition a group that seeks to protect commerce along the mississippi. He says when people in the maritime industry history see a photo of a flooded mississippi river city. We see that photo. We think holy crap. I mean that's truthfully what we see. It's scary because the height of the river and the current when the rivers high the flow is faster and that makes it treacherous for pilots navigate through new orleans matt gresham with the new orleans port authority took me on yet another mississippi river boat ride so the city's built around that that big turn in the river right there and that's one of the most a difficult or challenging navigation <hes> spots in in the united states really because you have basically a ninety degree turn in the river. You'll see when we get down there. The eddies that form in the river the currents that that that are pushing in different directions so it can be challenging for mariners imagine in a boat pilot like a race car driver. It's hard enough rounding. Turn then throw some slick ran on the track not easy still it's the best way to get goods woods across the globe but being so close to this trade corridor can come with a cost this year up and down the river hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland were impacted <unk> by floods near quincy illinois soybean farmer. Michael klingner isn't growing any crops this season. That's why you buy insurance that will cover for about seventy five percent of what he lost. He laughs things off but he's not laughing about. What's happening in washington. What's not happening. Klingner is also a civil engineer engineer in the northern stretch of the mississippi locks and dams managed the river but the controls here are far less comprehensive than in the south so the midwest in west floods like it did this spring. We get on national news every few years. We have another disaster. We'd like to do something to avoid these disasters back. In nineteen ninety-three free after flooding near quincy display seventy thousand people klingner and other farmers push congress to establish a better flood management plan for upper mississippi states took from nineteen ninety three to nineteen ninety nine to get <hes> the plan authorized took to two thousand eight for the core to wrap up the plan and present it to congress i at the center of the plan a one time payment of just three million dollars to pay farmers to voluntarily fled their fields during times of high water but ultimately certainly the federal government didn't fund the plan and it just sat there and died klingner argues paying farmers to take an excess water would benefit everybody body along the river system. We're not asking for a lot of dollars to absolutely crazy to put leave a system a place that was designed in nineteen fifty four and not allow us to make improvements to meet the current weather conditions that we see today. You know we've got a lot of data. We can keep this from happening again now. Let's get back to coastal louisiana south of new orleans and dive into what disappearing coastal louisiana looks like from. I'm high above fox trawlers via far with quebec. I went for a flight and four seat airplane with pilot win board along we left from the small new orleans ends lakefront airport were flying generally southward <hes> along the east sending bag of the river as we leave new orleans. The landscape looks like swiss cheese. That's been cut up with scissors ponds streams and canals penetrate the marshy swamps when the river was allowed to run its natural course mud clay and sand from up north would flow down to the mouth of the mississippi here runoff literally built and replenish the gulf coast no longer levies walls and dams keep water in the river but also keep mud and sand out or barriers push mud to new areas. The impacts can be harsh as we keep flying south. We see something remarkable out of the window. Tiny communities houses stranded in the middle of the water order an audio recording produced by the group restore. The mississippi river delta narrates what we're seeing below the area immediately around graham by you was made up of just ten percent water in nineteen sixteen and is now ninety percent water for this community and others across the coast. Louisiana's land loss is a daily reality reality. A ruthless succession of fierce hurricanes have further accelerated decay. The state of louisiana long with a lot of other invested parties is trying to turn back the clock by doing things like pumping in sand and planting more vegetation. They're also looking to punch out holes in levies and let the water along with mud and sand reached reached. The swamps where it's badly needed seems like a relatively easy solution but if he punched too many holes divert too much water you could alter the modern mississippi zippy which basically has become a long canal levees. Don't just protect river city's again. They keep world trade flowing fix one problem. Lem potentially create a new one. That's jason margolis. I'm marco werman and this is the world today. We've been talking about the mississippi river as you've heard it's a place of competing interests as a river. It's a trade superhighway for much of the country and the world but it's also a ticking environmental time bomb a a lot of people say it's already exploded but try to fix that tip the balance in favor of the environment too much and you can put trade at risk solutions won't be easy but environmentalists fire mental illness and business interests are working together. The world's jason margolis finishes are river trip looming over a massive model of the mississippi river at louisiana c._n._n. State university hang the words of albert einstein quote. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Engineers environmentalists shippers farmers the oil and gas industry. They're all trying to find a better solution for the modern mississippi and as we've said the challenge is is only getting harder with climate change june shoe. A professor of hydrology at l._s._u. Is alarmed by the strain put on the river system in recent years to projections for the year twenty. One hundred are worse water flows in the river are projected to increase by between eleven and sixty percent professor. Xu says consider even the middle scenario boise. Would it be huge soon. Weaver i thought or maybe system will survive. I'm i'm not sure at nc level rise caused by climate change and he says more and more researchers are skeptical about the state so called master plan it it calls for fifty billion dollars in funding over fifty years so far louisiana has raised about ten billion much of it coming from settlement money from the b._p. Oil spill which devastated advocated the gulf nine years ago. Here's the new orleans professor xu points to a map does some quick math factors in projected sea level rise and then concludes even if louisiana easiest can find the cash to fully fund its plan the state will still lose the battle. There's simply not enough river sediment out there to rebuild coastal louisiana so we don't have resource true created you. She says we need to face a hard truth. Restoring coastal louisiana easy anna to what was there before or even completely halting the erosion. This simply isn't possible. We are loosened. Let's talk about the restoration this talk about atop adaptation. We needed to sink this by the end of this century uh-huh where we have a better chance to protect us put another way. Some communities are simply going to be swallowed by the sea. There is however another another way to slow down land loss in the battle climate change at the start by decreasing greenhouse gases that means getting off fossil fuels and building more solar panels and wind turbines the southern states. The board of the mississippi river kentucky arkansas tennessee mississippi louisiana their legislatures. Just just aren't moving in that direction in louisiana. The oil and gas industry drives the economy a powerful lobby with a history of downplaying the causes and risks risks of climate change. Angela chalk lives in new orleans seventh ward. I live in a house that my grandfather went into car. Gain in five five generations have lived in that house. I talked runs. The group healthy community services a nonprofit. That's working to green the neighborhood that means things like planting trees and and community gardens to absorb storm water runoff. I asked her if her work includes mobilizing people to battle climate change. She says it does but it's hard i i know folks who work in the petrochemical industry against industry and they realize the effects that those industries are having <hes> environmentally environmentally but at the end of the day this is how people make their living in so. How do you speak against your company when they provide you so much. That's a reality. I wish it wasn't a reality but steve cochran is with the environmental defense fund. He says environmentalists can't just pound the table and demand action like like an immediate shift to solar and wind energy. Let's say we can do this tomorrow. We switch immediately. Were off of fossil fuels. What we have in louisiana we have a huge stranded asset base in scranton taxes but cochran also says state and federal policy-makers need to understand some hard truths. If we continue with business as usual if climate change continues unchecked and sea levels continue to rise and more frequent stronger hurricanes pummel the gulf coast it will cost all of us taxpayers payers a lot more money in the long run and it will become much harder to govern cochran asks is a future governor really prepared to deliver this this message things are gonna get bad and we can't exactly tell you how bad it's going to be but it's probably going to be bad and you need to move and i've decided me the governor whoever that you're going to have to move so go. I don't think that's ever going to happen. I mean in in new orleans after the storm we couldn't do that. Cochran says businesses and environmentalists historical adversaries are coming together for the common goal to protect and restore the coast host and mississippi river system. The clock is ticking and there's simply too much at stake to not work together. Is everybody going to be completely. Happy with the solutions solutions never but out on his flat bottom boat with his dog logan ryan lambert says time for debate is over. If you look we've lost and you see what's left here the next fifty years it'll all be gone. It's all we shouldn't have done it fifty years ago with today's today's the first day of my grandchildren's fifty years. Let's start it off. Let's get going. It's not about me. You won't see it. I'm going to be dead. Lou giant alligator in front. That's a big one for the world. I'm jason margolis. Along mississippi reporting for this story was made possible in part by fellowship with the institute for journalism and natural resources. Jason took pictures of the mississippi as he flew over it plus photos of the people he met along with logan the dog on his flat bottom boat in the louisiana bayou. They're all at the world dot o._r._g. As we've heard throughout the show today the ecological strain on the mississippi zippy is only growing more severe with the impacts of climate change bigger. Wetter storms are happening. More often and scientists expect the trend to get worse. This brings us back to one of our top stories today. Hurricane dorian stalled over the bahamas for several days causing catastrophic damage and killing at least five people in the country's northern islands the prime minister of the bahamas hubert minister today that his country faces many difficult days weeks and months ahead. The hurricane is now on a path. That's expected to track along the east coast of the u._s. The national hurricane center is warning of life. Threatening storm surges on the coast of florida georgia and the carolinas. We'll be following hurricane. Jane dorian and its aftermath here on the world. More tomorrow from the bill harris studios w. h. In boston i'm marco werman thanks for being with us. <music> in the world is a co production of w. G. b. h. boston the b._b._c. world service p._r._i. And p._r. ex.

Coming up next