This month's National Geographic has a splendid article on whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt. Article summary: by geography New Orleans always will be vulnerable to destruction by hurricanes, floods, and is threatened by rising sea levels. Also, the city itself is sinking slowly, the result of the ground drying as water is pumped out of swamps.

Only a small bit of present day New Orleans is above sea level. Until about 1900 that was the city. Then technology progressed to the point that swamps could be drained, levees built, and the city spilled over into areas below sea level. Not a good idea.

I think rebuilding New Orleans to match its pre-Katrina size is an act of hubris. We can control some aspects of nature some of the time. But, keeping New Orleans safe would require big, complex, and perfect systems. No way big, complex human systems will be perfect over a time of centuries.

Let the swamps return and the city shrink.

"You can't always get what you want, . . ."