The Water Campus - page 4

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Unlike other States, Louisiana is more than just a swatch of square miles,
marked on a map by imaginary lines. Our home is best understood as a
dynamic meeting of land and water, defined more by its constantly changing
coastline than by any arbitrary borders. From the marshy merger of sea and
shore comes 70% of the nation’s harvest of oysters and other seafood. The
Mississippi River, which formed much of Louisiana, is the spine of commerce
connecting us with America between the Rockies and the Appalachians. Water
from the Mississippi is pumped into the industries that line its banks for
manufacturing of products that, in turn, are shipped out over the same river
waters to markets around the world.
But this extraordinarily productive stretch of coastland is in crisis, and the
potential costs for our country defy calculation. Rising seas and the
disappearance of protective wetlands threaten Louisiana’s broad, heavily
populated delta, making it the most endangered coastland on the planet.
More and more coastal communities around the world now find themselves
facing similar problems, whether in storm-prone cities like New York or Miami
or on the disappearing deltas of Vietnam and Bangladesh.
The Water Campus is an unusual opportunity to challenge this peril.
For the scientists and engineers expected to work at The Water Campus
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s coast will be a living laboratory. There, they can
research the problems and test innovations that can save coasts around the
world, where more than 2 billion people now live.
Louisiana is washing away. Our wetlands are
disappearing at the perilous rate of 24 square miles
per year – equal to a football field every 38 minutes.
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