Re: “Another Silent Spring: Thinking about Environment and Health in the Era of COVID-19” An Online Lecture Series, Renmin University of China

“Another Silent Spring: Thinking about Environment and Health in the Era of COVID-19” An Online Lecture Series
Hosted by Renmin University of China
Lecture II: New Orleans’s History, America’s Future: Katrina, Covid, and the Climate Crisis
Speaker: Andy Horowitz (Tulane University)
Moderator: Donald Worster (The Center for Ecological History, Renmin University of China)
Time: April 3, 2021, 09:00-10:30(Beijing Time)
UTC-5 4-2-2021, 20:00-21:30
VOOV meeting

Andy Horowitz is Assistant Professor of History and the Paul and Debra Gibbons Professor in the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University. He is the author of Katrina: A History, 1915–2015 (Harvard University Press, 2020) and the co-editor of Critical Disaster Studies (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021).

Abstract: On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina created a storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico that overwhelmed the federal levee system meant to protect the city of New Orleans, Louisiana and its suburbs. But the decisions that caused the disaster extend across the twentieth century, after the city weathered a major hurricane in 1915, its Sewerage and Water Board believed that developers could safely build housing away from the high ground near the Mississippi. And so New Orleans grew in lowlands that relied on significant government subsidies to stay dry. When the flawed levee system surrounding the city and its suburbs failed, these were the neighborhoods that were devastated. The homes that flooded belonged to Louisianans black and white, rich and poor. After the flood receded, policymakers designed recovery programs that favored white people over African American people, wealthy people over poor people, and people who owned homes over people who rented them. That is a central lesson that I believe Katrina’s history offers for the pandemic and the climate crisis. Imagining these as acute ruptures, as emergencies without precedent, not only makes it impossible for us to reach into the storehouse of human history for ideas about how to confront the challenges with face. It also makes it impossible to explain their uneven impacts.


Chen Hao