Roundup: Louisiana Is Sinking

Losing Louisiana • Drinking double standard • Rural doctor shortage • The "Isle of Wight spaces" • And more ...

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ProPublica has an excellent project that looks at the water levels in southern Louisiana. The state has lost 2,000 miles of coast in only 80 years. By 2100, "everything outside the protective levees — most of Southeast Louisiana — [will] be underwater." The impact on coastal communities is already pronounced. Lloyd “Wimpy” Serigne describes his village in the Louisiana wetlands:

“Right here in Delacroix, when you come down the road, the only land you have is right where the houses are, and the road. That’s it,” he said. “The land’s not there, the woods are not there, and the local people — they only have about five local people after Katrina that came back.”

That world fell apart because the delta that sustained it was dying. … 

Delacroix residents say after the [oil industry] canals were dug, the wetlands that once nourished them fell apart, allowing storm surges to roll across their community and carry away even more of their marshes. Meanwhile, the physical barrier of the wetlands had been breached by bridges and asphalt roads, bringing modern-day New Orleans closer.

In the space of 50 years that destruction removed not only acres of productive wetlands, but erased entire cultures from southeast Louisiana.

“For me, it’s hard to believe how quick it all went,” Serigne said.

“You tell these young people what was here, and they look at you like you’re crazy or something. They can’t imagine, because they never saw it,” he said.

“In 20, 30 years I don’t see this land being here. I think it will be all gone.”

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New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman seems to have a bit of a double standard when it comes to telling other folks what they should put in their bodies.

The man who regularly harps on his readers for things like drinking milk or eating foods that aren’t pure enough by his standards says drinking alcohol is a “private matter.” In his embarrassingly confessional column, Bittman says his alcohol consumption is so private, in fact, he can’t even tell his doctor the truth about it. He's afraid his doctor will scold him for over-indulging.

Yikes. This is worse than we thought. Apparently Bittman goes to a physician who doesn’t read the New York Times.

— Tim Marema

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The Atlantic has a story on the doctor shortage in rural America, noting that “about a fifth of Americans live in rural areas, but barely a tenth of physicians practice there.” The piece cites the small number of rural students applying to medical school, studies that show that doctors from small towns are less likely to return to their roots, and a lack of cultural opportunities, food and entertainment, as reasons for the shortage. Mostly, though, they seem to be saying it’s just to hard for most folks to handle:

What's more, doctors working in the hinterlands face geographic struggles that a Dupont Circle dermatologist can't fathom. In Alaska's villages, community health aides work out of single-room clinics, relying on shaky phone and Internet connections for back-up. Many Native Alaskans speak rare tribal tongues as their first language. Overt complaining is not customary among some of the tribes, making it difficult for doctors to understand their symptoms. Transfers of patients to specialists or emergency rooms depend on the schedules of rickety charter planes, which often get "weathered up," or prevented from flying because of rain, snow, or some combination of the two.

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The BBC uses an Isle of Wight lifeboat, a stick and a stretch of beach to explain television white spaces – an emerging means of distributing broadband in hard-to-reach areas. The story says that the U.S. is a leader in white spaces deployment. We’ve been watching the slow roll out of white spaces in the U.S. for years. And we’re the leaders?

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The Washington Post takes a realistic look at what’s involved when people face tough employment choices and declining prospects in a rural area. Chico Harlan reports from Logan, West Virginia, on one coal miner’s economic and personal choices. The story reports what folks already know: It's a lot more complicated than simply packing up and moving to a place where there are more jobs.

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Three West Virginia counties are getting some extra help by way of the U.S. Department of Education’s Building Leadership Capacity in Rural West Virginia initiative. Each county will receive $5 million to build a principal leadership program for school administrators. 

 

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