'Category 5 Foolishness'

An interview with environmentalist journalist and author David Helvarg about hurricanes, coastal development, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and Bush administration policies.
June 9, 2006, 2pm PDT | Abhijeet Chavan
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"...hurricanes are natural phenomena, but they're being unnaturally intensified by our failed policies...It's very disturbing what hasn’t been done in response to last year's hurricane activity, which is we've thrown tens of billions of dollars at contractors in the Gulf region [but] Congress hasn’t committed dollar one to wetlands restoration...which act as natural storm barriers. Every two-and-a-half miles of wetlands reduce storm surge by a foot."

"...no good science goes unpunished in this administration. So, for example, there are a lot of administration people pushing the idea that climate change wasn't linked to last year's hurricanes. In fact, it reflects their inability or unwillingness to hold two thoughts at once...Right now, our government’s in denial. The best available science is creating some of the worst imaginable scenarios, and we have a government that fails to respond."

"It’s foolish to have federal flood insurance that subsidizes people to move in harm's way, that allows people to build second homes on barrier islands. There’s a reason they call them 'barrier islands.'"

"...crisis also is opportunity...150 years ago, some of the leading wealthiest people in this country would have said, 'Getting rid of whale oil is insane. It's the lubricant of the machine age'...Well, we went from whale oil to rock oil. Guess what? The economy expanded. You know, we’re at another moment...I’ve been on the oilrigs...It’s like being on a whaling ship 150 years ago."

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