Katrina and the global shockwaves

News & Politics

"I want to emphasize that this is not some kind of 'garden variety' natural disaster like the hurricanes (even some of the more devastating ones) that hit the US southeast every several years. What is happening is frankly unprecendeted, and will send shockwaves across the US and, potentially, the rest of the world for some time to come," writes Ben P.

He proceeds to lift a huge quote from a global economy journal which I will re-lift due to its comprehensive analysis of the shockwaves that may be felt as the world's 5th largest port is virtually incapacitated and a city of a half a million lies under 20ft of water.


A Category 5 hurricane [it ended up only being a Category 4...], the most severe type measured, Katrina has been reported heading directly toward the city of New Orleans. This would be a human catastrophe, since New Orleans sits in a bowl below sea level. However, Katrina is not only moving on New Orleans. It also is moving on the Port of Southern Louisiana. Were it to strike directly and furiously, Katrina would not only take a massive human toll, but also an enormous geopolitical one.

The Port of Southern Louisiana is the fifth-largest port in the world in terms of tonnage, and the largest port in the United States. The only global ports larger are Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is bigger than Houston, Chiba and Nagoya, Antwerp and New York/New Jersey. It is a key link in U.S. imports and exports and critical to the global economy.

The Port of Southern Louisiana stretches up and down the Mississippi River for about 50 miles, running north and south of New Orleans from St. James to St. Charles Parish. It is the key port for the export of grains to the rest of the world -- corn, soybeans, wheat and animal feed.
Midwestern farmers and global consumers depend on those exports. The United States imports crude oil, petrochemicals, steel, fertilizers and ores through the port. Fifteen percent of all U.S. exports by value go through the port. Nearly half of the exports go to Europe.

The Port of Southern Louisiana is a river port. It depends on the navigability of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is notorious for changing its course, and in southern Louisiana -- indeed along much of its length -- levees both protect the land from its water and maintain its course and navigability. Dredging and other maintenance are constant and necessary to maintain its navigability. It is fragile.

If New Orleans is hit, the Port of Southern Louisiana, by definition, also will be hit. No one can predict the precise course of the storm or its consequences. However, if we speculate on worse-case scenarios the following consequences jump out:
Read the rest, here.

See also:
(MyDD)

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