Host Jonathan Judaken talks with Christopher Morris, author of The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its People.
Morris explains that Hurricane Katrina was only the latest in a series of massive floods that have wreaked havoc in the natural wetlands of the Delta. But flooding has not always been disastrous, and disasters like Hurricane Katrina are certainly not natural. They are the result of how humans have interacted with the environment from the time of Hernando de Soto to the present, including loss of life, destruction of property, droughts, and disease.
Morris describes how humans changed the natural wetlands into farmland along the Mississippi River, and how other nations, such as the Netherlands, have adapted to life with the constant threat of floods by allowing rivers and their flooding to become part of their way of life through their interactions and advance in technology.
Morris concludes that the problems associated with attempts to control the Mississippi River are the end result of the ill-considered bending of natural environments to human purposes.