This is a good example of why the green issue is so complex, viz our modern ways and means, and corrections to it so complicated.
An emergency procedure intended to prevent the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers from flooding several river towns appears to be working Tuesday, as river levels have fallen more than a foot. However, water levels are rising as far south as Memphis, Tenn., where heavy rainfall could contribute to a river crest of 48 feet next Tuesday.
Late Monday, the US Army Corps of Engineers blasted a two-mile hole in a Mississippi River levee to relieve water pressure that, at its height Monday night, stood at a record-breaking 61.72 feet in Cairo, Ill. The historic river town is located at the bottommost tip of Illinois, where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet.
But that’s only part of it. Originally, before it was straightened at any many points and levees built to protect settlements, town and cities the alluvial plain of the Mississippi Delta was about 300 miles wide. As much as it was a pain and a danger, its regular flooding by the sediment-rich river produced extraordinarily fertile croplands throughout the Delta region – not to be confused with the Mississippi River Delta at the mouth of the river, which is different.
The delta regularly flooded, so we set about changing its course and building levees to protect people and property from the flooding. In an alluvial plain. I certainly do not wish any of these residents any harm or ill-will at this time of hardship. These are the ramifications of our own attempts to master the largest river system in North America. When we made it impossible for the river to periodically dump sediments onto the land through flooding, we made it possible for the river to carry the same same sediment out into the river delta, where it creates massive biological dead zones, aka hypoxia zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s weird and not much salve to see try to this in context of a longer time continuum. But as Fred said, we need more weird.