Vanishing Louisiana

An extraordinary report in Medium by Brett Anderson, he recommends updating the iconic shape of the Louisiana cutout map.


Nowadays, the job of communicating our states’ geographic boundaries has fallen almost entirely to the ubiquitous symbols that signal our presence in each of them. Many of those symbols — think Texas, Florida, California — are so effectively iconographic they require no label. Louisiana’s boot is among those, and the power of an altered version would rest on its capacity to communicate the irrefutable truth of its deformity.


  1. I lived in Louisiana in the 1970's and traveled a lot in the swamp by boat. It seems to me the proper mapping procedure is to show a fresh water swamp as a swamp and not as "water". My recollection is that swamp water level was above sea level. The canals had alligators and fresh water critters.

    If this is still the case that map is a bit misleading. However, the coastal erosion issue is there, and the way they dredge the river delta is an environmental crime. This has been known for many years.

  2. This is a fair point - much of the swampy region was already swampy. But the other side is true too. This is not longer hypothetical in Louisiana. The sense that everything is sinking is pretty palpable - had a wonderful Mardi Gras visit this year, but the standard tourist detour on US 90 leaves a sense of decline, decay, and abandonment in the face of rising waters. I only have the one data point; have not been a regular visitor. But it was very much on my mind the whole time.

  3. I'm thrilled to hear from Brett Anderson outside his AccuWeather blog. He is a one of our climate communication heroes, patiently persisting with current climate news in the face of a dedicated posse of bullies wedded to the usual counterfactuals. He never lost his temper, which I found remarkable. We were friendly in the early years, but I couldn't take it and fled to DotEarth (!)

  4. The New York Times Magazine has an article just out that is very shocking and beautifully written and presented, about the campaign of historian John M. Barry.

    The layout and illustrations are outstanding, and the writing about corruption beautifully contextualized. This is another ordinary guy (like Mike Mann) forced to become a hero, and his long path to disappointment in the human conditions that make corruption rule.

    "The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever: A quixotic historian tries to hold oil and gas companies responsible for Louisiana’s disappearing coast"

    If you don't have a subscription, please take a look anyway, you get 10 free per month, or Sunday's magazine for the print copy; this one is worth it.

    "people died because of cynical decisions made by shortsighted politicians drawing on bad science"

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.