"The loss of Louisiana's wetlands is the single most catastrophic environmental disaster ever to hit the continental U.S.," said Mark Schexnayder, a marine biologist with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Extension and Research Center-Sea Grant Program. "The consequences of loosing the wetlands are far reaching and affect everyone. Of course there are biological and ecological effects, but the biggest cost of losing the wetlands will be on oil and gas prices, causing them to rise everywhere. The oil production rigs and natural gas pipelines in Louisiana depend on the wetlands to protect their structures from storms and hurricanes. Without the wetlands, they are exposed."
With environmental lessons from Asia's tsunami disaster lingering weeks later and the vigorous 2004 summer of hurricanes, Louisiana's coastal wetlands are one of the most protective barriers against such disasters and account for over 40 percent of the total salt marshlands in the United States.
"Wetlands act as a storm buffer for hurricanes and other large storms," said Dr. Denise Reed, a professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of New Orleans. "With the rapidly depleting wetlands, people that have lived in southern Louisiana can tell that over the last 30 years, large storms now come in faster and the water rises faster, which gives less time to respond and less time to evacuate. In the next few years, it's going
Contact: Jennifer Walsh
JASON Foundation for Education