Louisiana Flooding: Is This the State's New, More Accurate Map?
Once the emergency is over, maybe it's time we drew a different map of Louisiana - however shocking it may be.
With Louisiana in the grips of dramatic floods that have caused monumental devastation, now is not the time to demand an updated map of the Bayou State.
Affecting 20 parishes, the water has claimed the lives of 13 people while chasing tens of thousands from their homes. Rescue and relief are the main concerns now. Yet once the waters have receded (but before complacency sets in again), it's high time to study the simple, shocking message of this pair of maps.
One map shows Louisiana as its familiar, boot-like self. This is the iconic shape we recognise from countless maps and logos, as recognisable as the shape of, say, Texas, or of the U.S. itself. The other purports to reflect the actual frontline between water land land. On this map, Louisiana is a boot no more. The advancing waters have effectively destroyed the cartographic icon that is, or rather was Louisiana.
The state wrapped around the Mississippi's delta has been fighting a losing battle against the water for decades now. In the last eighty years, close to 1,900 square miles of land have slipped into the Gulf of Mexico – that's an area equivalent to the entire state of Rhode Island, plus half a dozen times Washington D.C. Louisiana holds the world record in receding shorelines: on average, one football field every hour is lost to the waves. If nothing is done, another 1,750 square miles will be gone within half a century.
Yet the map of Louisiana has remained reassuringly fixed for as long as anyone can remember. It provides the people perusing it with a false sense of solidity, and security, even as cartographic fiction and geographic fact drift further and further apart.
To bring those two closer together again – and to raise an alarm of sorts – Matter magazine produced a map that shows Louisiana's true face, unretouched by wishful thinking. To create this map, wetlands and other areas that commonly appear as land on government-issue maps were recategorised as water. The result is nothing less than shocking: that old familiar Boot has been shrunk and shredded.
Although Matter admits that its map may not be perfect either, it argues that it is closer to the actual truth on the ground – or lack of it – than Louisiana's hitherto accepted cartography, which has held on to old coastlines even as the wetlands behind them have become increasingly wet, and less and less land.
And while adopting this newer, wetter map of Louisiana in and of itself will not change the rising of the waters and/or the sinking of the land, it would turn the spotlight firmly on a problem that is so huge and scary that it is more easily ignored than acted upon: the slow, but continuous erosion of the very matter that makes up the state of Louisiana.
Strange Maps #797
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Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.