A $50 Billion Dollar Gamble to Save the Wetlands

The water-saturated swamp regions of southern Louisiana, also known as ‘the wetlands’ have been slipping their ways into a watery grave for some time now. As the Mississippi River Delta is presently sinking into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate of 16 square miles per year, industries built along the delta have recently joined with government officials, with a plan to save the wetlands by manually rebuilding it. This could be a fifty-year plan that is estimated to cost about $50 billion dollars.


Providing for an extremely diverse variety of wildlife and vegetation as well as a home for over two million people, it is not the environmental consciousness or big hearts of industries and government officials that prompted them to come up with a desperate plan to save the wetlands, but straight business.

Industries built along the delta are some of the most active in the country, as well as the most vital to both the state and national economies. The fisheries alone are some of the most active in the nation, with 75% of the nation’s fish provided straight from the delta every year.

Additionally, the ports surrounding the delta are some of the most profitable, providing the state with hundreds of thousands of local jobs. Perhaps most importantly, the wetlands provide one-tenth of the country’s natural gas, pumped straight from the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps it goes without saying that to forfeit these industries would be to suffer a massive financial crisis, at both state and federal levels.


Essentially, industries and government officials plan to save the wetlands with some good ol’ blood, sweat, and plenty of wishful thinking. The goal is to manually reverse thousands of years-worth of geological processes by diverting the Mississippi in such a way that it mimics the way it ran when first forming the deltas that surround it. To do this, sediment would be pumped out from the river using pipelines, and dumped back into the basins, thus re-forming marshes. Industry-hopefuls predict that over 30,000 acres of land could potentially be saved by these means.


Most experts seem to agree that feat of rebuilding the Mississippi River Delta to be an overly-ambitious and near-impossible task, for three main reasons. Firstly, there is the issue of being provided with consistent funding from willing organizations—an issue that is bound to hit at least a few stubborn roadblocks over the next 50 years. Secondly, the plan devised seems to completely ignore an unlimited number of variables that may affect the rebuilding of the wetlands, such as storms, hurricanes, and changes in sea level—natural forces that simply cannot be reckoned with.

Lastly, against all of these wild variables, there is the idea of attempting something that’s never been tried before in human history: the saving of a large landmass through manually rebuilding it—an accomplishment some equate with the difficulty of launching into space for the first time— earning the project with the nickname of “Louisiana’s Moon Shot.”

However ridiculous their idea for saving the wetlands might sound, for many, failure is literally not an option. If the project does fail, or no alternative solution is found within the next 50 years, millions of people would have to relocate their homes, hundreds of different species of wildlife would die off, the state and federal economy would receive a massive blow, and industries would have to either relocate, or start wearing their bathing suits to work.


It’s important to emphasize the importance of ecology. Atmoph celebrates this in anyone’s home: