Katrina didn’t kill anyone Shell Oil’s greenwashing did

Katrina didn’t kill anyone Shell Oil’s greenwashing did

The human-made “environmental” disasters that keep killing Black and Chicano people in the U.S.

It has been 16 years since Katrina, one of the worst human-made environmental disasters in U.S. history, only the recent Texas Winter Storm Uri compares. 

Why do I call Katrina human-made?

“Because of the government’s response time?”

No. That was atrocious, but that’s not why. The fate of the 9th Ward in New Orleans had been sealed long before the government took five days to respond.

What sealed the 9th Ward’s fate was the manipulation of the topography and hydrology in Louisiana by Big Oil and Big Agriculture.

Hurricane Katrina missed New Orleans. It went east. I have no idea why the press keeps calling the New Orleans disaster Hurricane Katrina. If someone shoots at you and you jump in the ocean and drown. Your cause of death by the coroner is ruled a drowning.

The water within the levees only rose to a level one hurricane. The levees were supposed to withstand up to a level three. 

I actually hate calling those sad little walls levees. They have levees in the Netherlands. What they had in New Orleans was akin to comparing the anti-car theft device the club to the high tech anti-car theft device lo-jack.

Many news reports say they had level three storm surges , but that has nothing to do with water. This is how I have deduced through the bullshit that it was level one.

The US government, in its actions, shows that it agrees with me. The US government works on technicalities.

  1. “If you don’t have form 56878797e87w87w98w797w98w79w7w89, you will have to get back in line B,” the woman at the DMV. “But he told me, it was the right form. The stamp is right there. Can’t you just stamp it,” a ‘customer’ at the DMV.
  2. “I am sorry ma’am, that is against regulations. Now please step away from my window. I have to go to lunch now,” the woman at the DMV.  
A visual of getting around government paperwork processes

The reason Bush and FEMA didn’t do anything was that technically Katrina missed New Orleans and technically, it was a level one water level with level two wind, so in normal circumstances no need for it to be a national emergency.

That’s what the U.S. government was going to say, but thanks to the Internet, the dead bodies floating through the streets, the bloggers, the Canadians, and the BBC coming in, they couldn’t “lie,” so they had to go to plan B, which was, “Those people should have left, but you know they are poor and ignorant (and Black.)”

The storm hit harder in Mississippi, which is why they got a quicker response from the federal government.

Technically in New Orleans, there was no natural disaster, not even by our government’s definitions of natural disaster.

I remember thinking myself, “Oh, it’s great the storm missed, New Orleans…” Then, after the damage, it started being called HURRICANE KATRINA. The water flooding the city had nothing to do with the hurricane, or at least the storm wasn’t the root cause.

The damage in New Orleans was owing to the sinking land, rising waters, and no barriers.

So what happened? How did 80 percent of a major US city end up underwater?

The sinking of New Orleans and the destruction of the wetlands.

All signs point to extensive oil drilling.

In New Orleans, the destroyed wetlands that (used to ) surrounded the below-sea-level city has lost over 2000 square feet in less than 60 years.

“Since the 1930s some 1,900 square miles (4,900 square kilometers) of coastal wetlands—a swath nearly the size of Delaware or almost twice that of Luxembourg—have vanished beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Despite nearly half a billion dollars spent over the past decade to stem the tide, the state continues to lose about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of land each year, roughly one acre every 33 minutes.”

2004, Joel K. Bourne, Jr., National Geographic

“The Louisiana bayou, hardest working marsh in America, is in big trouble—with dire consequences for residents, the nearby city of New Orleans, and seafood lovers everywhere”

National Geographic

What do wetlands do?

In elementary terms, the wetlands protect your land from getting wet. They are a barrier and a shield against a watery death. 

They are also the world’s kidneys. The wetlands are home to a vast number of endangered species, and improve water quality.

The Atchafalaya Basin or Atchafalaya Swamp is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana. It is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.  It is part of the third largest drainage basin in the world, exceeded in size only by the watersheds of the Amazon and Congo Rivers. It drains 41 percent of the 48 contiguous states of the U.S.

New Orleans, due to massive oil drilling around the city, no longer has a shield. They are practically completely exposed to the elements and nature did not have one thing to do with the now almost nonexistent wetlands.

“Over the last four years, 340 square miles of wetlands around New Orleans have vanished, causing biologists to call the wetlands around the city the fastest disappearing land mass on the planet.”

2018, Brian Merchant, “Fastest Disappearing Land Mass on the Planet” Treehugger

For every 2.7 miles of wetlands, storm surges are reduced by about one 1 foot.

2005, Sidney Coffee Executive Assistant to the Governor’s Coastal Activities

Some say the reason why was because the levees cut off the nutrients.

Melissa Block of NPR talking with Joe Suhayda, an oceanographer who studies the decline of coastal wetlands in Louisiana states the change is due to the building of levees along the Mississippi River Delta to protect New Orleans from flooding have, over the past 80 years, contributed to the decline of wetland vegetation along the coast.

But I say something else contributed to the significantly accelerated rate of this process and the effects.

The Bush administration actively lied to the American people in regards to the environment. They even had hired political strategist Frank Luntz who wrote a paper on how. Luntz coined the term “Healthy Forests Initiative” as a “friendly” way to label the expansion of cutting down trees for profit. He also came up with the phrase “climate change” as a replacement for global warming. 

Ignorance and anti-science did not start under Trump.

“Environmentalists are extremists, all we need are a few parks, some big ones…we don’t need clean air with regulations, just build some trees and what the hell are wetlands anyway…” an American who has been lied to.

According to Roy Dokka, a Louisiana State University geologist, in one two-year period Eastern, New Orleans lost almost two inches in two years.

“The land sank by as much as 1.7 inches from 1969 to 1971.”

Louisiana has the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1978, Shell has easily violated this.  

I’m not entirely dismissing the levees not providing nutrients to the wetlands. I know that the bad design of the levees also contributed, but then you have to think about this:

New Orleans provides 1/3 of oil for the United States. Do you think them digging for oil had nothing to do with the killing of the wetlands? If oil companies taking the oil can make a major city sink, how could digging for oil in the wetlands not have some impact on the wetlands?

The US would do anything for oil. I don’t think I need to source that statement.

“Louisiana is the hardest working wetlands in America. It produces or transports more than a third of the nation’s oil and a quarter of its natural gas.”

Fast fact from the magazine Environmental Chemistry

As they pump oil from New Orleans, it sinks, yes the levees cut off the nutrients, BUT if they weren’t pumping the amount of oil that they are pumping, there would be no need for the wetlands to rebuild at an even more accelerated unnaturally quick rate.

It’s like having a weak heart and then deciding to take up smoking cigarettes and snorting cocaine. Yes, your weak heart was going to kill you, but it was going to take twenty years. Maybe some advances would have been made. Now you’re going to be dead in five years. 

Nature is being slowed down because of the levees, but the land for sure is sinking due to oil. Taking oil and exploring underneath the wetlands has to be contributing to them dying quicker. I, for some reason, think the oil is the bigger problem than the levees.

But the Army of Engineers doesn’t have quite the PR department that Shell does. 

“Shell announced a $300m fund for “investing in natural ecosystems” over the next three years. This, it claims, will help to “support the transition towards a low-carbon future”. By paying for reforestation”

2019, George Monbiat, “Shell is not a green saviour. It’s a planetary death machine” Guardian

I think they should start calling the Katrina Disaster should be the Shell Oil Disaster.

That’s who killed New Orleans. Shell Oil is the reason that people died. Shell Oil is why dead bodies and corpses were floating up the street for weeks after, and even a month later they were still finding dead, bloated bodies.

The environmental movement and social justice community are connected. The human-made (oil-manmade) disaster that happened in August 2005 was one of the most significant examples of why we should all work together.

Environmentalists had talked for years about the wetlands in New Orleans and how New Orleans was sinking. Most environmentalists didn’t focus too much on the oil aspect because many environmentalists don’t want to be that involved in the truth in that way. Naming Shell as the reason for Katrina would cut off valuable funding. Shell gives to many gulf focused environmental groups such as the Coastal Conversation Association and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and gives millions to university for Wetland Research. But the science of New Orleans sinking is all there. The science that the wetlands in New Orleans dying faster than everywhere else in the world is there. We just have to say the why aloud. 

Shell has renewed its title sponsorship of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival through 2024. The oil and gas company first signed on as title sponsor in 2006 for the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina.

I guess that makes up for killing Black New Orleans and drowning 50,000 people.

In 2019 Louisiana sued Chevron for damage to their wetlands. They did not sue Shell. Shell is the biggest oil producer in the western world and the fourth biggest oil producer in the world.

Everyone knows exactly what Shell is doing. They are paid to pretend not to.

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina was not a tragedy. A tragedy is when a young couple accidentally drowns on their honeymoon. Hurricane Katrina didn’t even hit New Orleans.

What happened in the 9th Ward was manslaughter or to get away from my own newspeak. It was then President of Shell Oil John Hofmeister going to your nana’s house and drowning her in the bathtub, then going to her purse and stealing the check she gets from her dead husband’s pension.

 That’s what happened in New Orleans.

Shell is more than three miles away from New Orleans. They do not share their profits with New Orleans or Louisiana despite more than 30 percent of the US oil from Louisiana. Discussing Shell isn’t killing American’s livelihood and making one of the poorest states in America even poorer. Shell Oil did that.

Katrina wasn’t god’s will or even “the government.” It was a bunch of callous oil barons destroying the environment for oil and everyone else hiding it, because most of the people who died were Black. 

Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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