Atchafalaya Nature Analysis

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The Control of Nature

Atchafalaya, by John Mcphee, is a fascinating article on the Atchafalaya, the Mississippi River, and the history of these two. The article delves into the various facets of concerns and implications for these rivers - informing the reader, and introduces new ideas to persuade the reader.
The Mississippi, like most rivers, were much larger a long time ago. About three to four thousand years ago to be exact. According to Mcphee, the main channel of the mississippi is now the quiet little “water” of Bayou Teche. This is known for a few distinct reasons. The Bayou Teche follows the general path of the Mississippi; moreover, it “mimics the shape of the Mississippi.” The Bayou Teche and Mississippi, in fact, are only one
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In 1928, Congress put three hundred million dollars into the Flood Control Act. Most of the costs went towards setting up levees along the Mississippi. The overall goal of this project was eventually changed to the title of the “Flood Project.” Lots of river work, levees, spillways, etc., were erected around this time (1920s-1930s). Mcphee references something from Washington Post as follows: “Who will win as this slow-motion confrontation between humankind and nature goes on? No one really knows. But after watching Mt. St. Helens and listening to the guesses about its performance, if we had to bet, we would bet on the river.” The topic of Mount St. Helens is an interesting one. Hold that thought for a moment. For the longest time, the general view was held that the grand canyon formed slowly over a long period of time by the colorado river. However, recent investigation on this theory has shown otherwise. The river would have to flow uphill for this to be possible. But a big indicator that the grand canyon could have been formed quickly over a short period of time is the Mount St. Helens incident. Mount St. Helens was very fast - somewhere between 10 minutes to an hour or so, and cleared out a very large area. This makes whatever damming that’s going on now with rivers like the Mississippi somewhat frightening. If for instance ISIS put on a demonstration and blew up the dam of the Mississippi, the water would create a miniature grand canyon between Mississippi and Arkansas. The flooding from the water would destroy and erode anything in it’s path that was next to the river by at least a third mile on both sides, probably more. Levees can only do so

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