People, the Coast and Climate – Our Existential Threat

Scientists at 13 federal agencies have released the final draft of their report on the impact of climate change on the United States. The report says that the country is already experiencing the effects of climate change. The release of the report constitutes a form of whistleblowing since it was done without the permission of the Trump administration.

The 2017 Coastal Master Plan (as did its 2012 predecessor) under estimates the total cost of the projects approved. $50 Billion is the official CPRA estimate. It’s likely well over $100 Billion. No problem. We don’t have the $50 Billion.

There is growing evidence that mortgage and insurance companies take climate change seriously because of the growing book of evidence regarding sea level rise. Tidal flooding on the Eastern Seaboard from Miami to Boston is already occurring. Louisiana’s coastal land is sinking even as sea levels rise.

Three Louisiana residents share their perspectives on the scientific, engineering and humanitarian challenges facing Louisiana, its people and its leaders as we begin to confront the existential threat posed by climate change and natural forces.

Bob Marshall is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter based in New Orleans. Marshall earned those awards (and others) for his insightful work on Louisiana’s wetlands both as a natural and economic resource, and as a buffer protecting Louisiana’s coastal communities from storms.

Marshall continues his work of making sense of climate science for laymen.

Bren Haase is chief of research and planning for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Louisiana entity charged with responding to the disappearance of Louisiana’s coast, reversing some of that, and protecting our communities as well as possible from future storms that will assuredly batter our coast in coming decades.

Johanna deGraffenried was with the Gulf Restoration Network when her segment of this show was recorded. In it, deGraffenried talks about the unpleasant truth that even if we succeed in saving some of our coast, many residents will no longer be able to live in the communities they now call home. GNR produced abandonment zone maps using data from the CPRA and the Census Bureau. The late Dr. Ezra Boyd produced those maps for CPRA.

Three interviews conducted separately that give a compelling view of the challenges we face going forward.


Resettlement Zones are those areas of coastal Louisiana where periodic tidal surge and other flooding could force people to resettle in other areas away from those flood-prone zones. The red areas represent current resettlement zones. The orange areas are future resettlement zones based on projections in the 2012 Coastal Master Plan. The maps were produced in 2016 by Dr. Ezra Boyd’s LLC for the Gulf Restoration Network.