Possibilism _ NOLA

Intro to Geography
Cultural Ecology
“The well-known contrast between the energetic people
of the most progressive parts of the temperate zone
and the inert inhabitants of the tropics and even of
intermediate regions, such as Persia [modern day Iran],
is largely due to climate. . . .the people of the cyclonic
regions rank so far above those of the other parts of
the world that they are natural leaders.”
- What is he saying? Or eluding to?
What Geographers thought
Environmental Determinism
Just from hearing the term, what do
you think this suggest?
Environmental Determinism
Human behavior is controlled [determined] by the
physical environment.
To Aristotle the most ideal climate was that of
Today: Climates most suited for progress/productiveness
in culture, politics or technology is that of:
Western Europe
Why? What’s so great about those climates?
Why does Environmental
Determinism not hold true?
People are the decision makers and the modifiers
– not just slaves of environmental forces!
People and their cultures shape environments,
constantly altering the landscape and effecting
environmental systems.
So what do Geographers
follow today if Environmental
Determinism doesn’t hold
Just from hearing the term, what do
you think that this suggests?
Environment merely serves to limit the range of
choices available to a culture.
Choices that a society makes depends on its
Things needed by that society
Technology available
Today , it is possible to do many things that are at odds
with the environment – examples?
Case Study in Possibilism:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Guesses as to how this city is an example of
“City in a Bowl”
Why this locality?
Lake Pontchatrain
to the North
Mississippi to the
What makes this city unique?
Originally a Spanish city
Ceded to the French in 1763
Louisiana Purchase in 1803
Haitian Revolution in 1804
Current Demographics
As of 2000 – 484,674
67.25% African American
28.05% Caucasian
2.26% Asian
3.06% Latino
When you think of
New Orleans what do you
think of ?
Hurricane Katrina 2005
What went wrong?
To see the sufferation sicken me
Them suit no fit me
To wine election they trick we
And they don’t do nuttin’ at all.
~Damian Marley, Welcome to Jam-Rock
Saturday, August 27
5 PM: Gov. Blanco & Mayor
Nagin warn residents of the
storm. Nagin declares a state of
emergency, but stops short of
calling a mandatory evacuation.
 WHY?
10 PM: NHC predicts that entire
Gulf Coast is in danger.
Sunday August 28
1240 AM: Katrina rated Category 4
 What does that mean?
 Hurricane PAM
8 AM: Superdome is opened as a
shelter of last resort?
 Why do they have to do this?
 Poverty rate in NOLA:
23.2% (about twice that of
the nation – USA Today)
 What ended up happening here?
5 PM: First signs of storm  rains
on fringe
Monday, August 29
MIDNIGHT: Beachside residents
report foot of water in homes.
3 AM: 17th St. Canal begins to breach
 What does that mean?
 Army Corps of Engineers
814 AM: Industrial Canal breaches –
flooding Lower 9th Ward (6-8 ft. of
 Why is this ward important?
645 PM: Coast Guard begins rescues
with only 7 helicopters
8PM: Gov. Blanco pleads for help from
Pres. Bush
Tuesday, August 30
By end of day: 20,000 in Superdome
6 AM: Area surrounding Superdome
has 3 ft. of water.
10 AM: Sandbags being used to aid
1053 AM: Nagin declares
mandatory evacuation.
407 PM: House Speaker tells Pres
“the People of Mississippi are flat on
their backs. They are going to need
your help.”
Why didn’t people
Wednesday, August 31
78,000 of NOLA residents are
living in shelters
Superdome = 26,000
9 AM: Gov. Blanco continues to
call Pres.
11 AM: Superdome is closed,
people go to Convention Center
NOON: Water finally stops rising
3 PM: Pres. Bush meets for only
one hour in D.C. to discuss
Thursday, September 1
4,000 People stranded on I10: many are elderly and
without Rx.
Convention Center = 1520,000
2 AM: 1st Evacuees to
Houston arrive
2 PM: Mayor Nagin delivers
ultimatum to rest of the
country on CNN
Mayor Nagin on CNN
“I need reinforcements. I need troops man. I
need five hundred buses, man. This is a national
disaster. I’ve talked directly with the President.
I’ve talked to the head of Homeland Security.
I’ve talked to everybody under the sun.”
Friday, September 2
National Guard troops =
19,500; 6500 in NOLA
455 AM: Gould CNN
correspondent calls it a
“genocide” and says: “Okay, so
we got to sit by and watch 4 or
5 more elderly sick people die
or some—another baby die, or
whatever, while they’re making
up their minds to come in.”
230 PM: Pres. Bush makes it to
Saturday, September 3
Katrina has impacted 90,000
sq. mi. – size of Great
215 AM: Evacuation of
Superdome almost complete
NOON: Buses arrive to
Convention Center
547 PM : Superdome is
What is it or what was it supposed to
Ethel Freeman
Paper Assignment
Although Possibilism allows for humans to virtually
build anything anywhere, is it really worthwhile for the
city of New Orleans to rebuild the levees/city after the
wreckage of Hurricane Katrina – why or why not?
Lil Wayne &
Hollygrove, NOLA
Interview with Tony Zumbado –
CNN correspondent
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