Climate change adaptation
New Orleans is in need of a transformative vision and process for water management. After decades of levees and drainage for flood protection and navigation, subsidence became a major issue, aggravated by sea level rise and an increase in intensity and frequency of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
A shift in paradigms on how to deal with floods is underway. Plans and initiative to speed and increase river flow diversions to revive coastal wetlands are under way. These coastal wetlands act as a buffer against storm surges. New Orleans has a city plan, New Orleans 2030 an important factor in this plan is the restoration of wetlands to reduce the chance of flooding.
Furthermore, the perimeter defence system built by the Corps of Engineers around the city is now more robust than before Katrina. A huge storm surge barrier has been developed in front of the city, dikes and levees have been renewed and re-strengthened and houses are being heightened by regulations related to the main sea level.
According to some, it still provides a lower level of protection than the urban area needs for safety and reinvestment, but also is less flexible than would be desired. It is nonetheless a base line that must be amplified, supplemented and built upon in the years and decades ahead.
New Orleans is inevitably an ecological borderland. With engaged citizens providing specific knowledge, a flexible planning culture and a commitment to learning, innovation and feedback using a science-based, place-based approach, New Orleans can be and adaptable and highly desirable water city.
Besides flood related problems New Orleans is also coping with droughts, to inform people to coming droughts Lousiana has an interactive drought map.
According to research of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA, 2008) the amount of energy being used in New Orleans increases fast when the temperature rises. With the increasing changes in climate, higher temperatures will occur more often. With the Green Light New Orleans program, New Orleans wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing the city’s 3 million light bulbs (counts for 20% of the emission) with more efficient, low energy lights (EcoSecurity, 2008).