Mississippi God Dam

Posted in: News and Updates

The US Army Corps of Engineers has been playing God again.  It decided to flood around 130000 acres of farmland rather than let an historic town, Cairo, Illinois, be inundated by the Mississippi.  It did this by busting a hole in one of Old Man River's levees.  A bit of a no-brainer, perhaps, but not to all those farmers who are about to get silt with their compensation.  Mind you, the Corps is no stranger to controversy or the Mississippi (often both together), but it is usually to be found trying to prevent the river from going its own way.   This is a long game.

The best conference I ever attended, in Eugene, Oregon, had a keynote on this very topic: the Corps' heroic struggles to prevent the Mississippi from flowing into the Atchafalaya river.  This was a conference with the very best keynotes: Richard Lewontin (whose input changed my already liberal view on human intelligence and inheritance – for the better, I should say); Donna [Cyborg] Haraway whose frequent references to "bitches" caused a stir amongst her popular (right-on) fan base – nominally, she was talking about dogs, but ...; and then this bloke (a scruffy Brit whose name I cannot remember) from the University of Illinois who read us a parable about the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya.

The scruffy bloke's message to the Corps of Engineers was to give up because the Mississippi would win in the end (more time and patience and infinitely more resource).   His message to the rest of us in relation to sustainability was, like the River, just to go with the flow.   It was stunning – a bit like the Mississippi.

Posted in: News and Updates


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