In 1786, France was reeling economically from the crucial support Louis XVI had given to the Americans in their Revolution against Britain, but in those heady times, all things seemed possible. The Mongolfiers had floated over Versailles in theior hot air balloons, Benjamin Franklin had demonstrated the rational magic of electricity and Louis imagined a scheme to make France impregnable from the naval threat of Britain.
Against the advice of his wisest advisors, he and his Royal Engineer, M. de Cessart set about to transform the port of Cherbourg into a maritime fortress. Cherbourg had been victimized in a raid by The Infamous Captain Bligh in 1759 and Louis, having seen the trimming of Britains maritime might, decided to make Cherbourg into the crown of his defense against Britain.
His and de Cessarts plan was to create a chain of submersed forts, an undersea mountain range as it were, which could be defended and linked by huge chains. The forts were huge pine box cone structures which were filled with rocks and then sunk. It seemed like a cunning simple plan at the time, but in reality, the feat proved to be impossible and only a few of the huge cones were actually built at an astronomical cost. The few cones that were built disappeared rapidly, succumbing to the force of the sea and the myriad of organisms.
They disappeared almost as fast as the Old Regime which was bankrupted by the scheme.
The scandal caused by the cost of the failed idea is now seen as one of the major events that led to the French Revolution in 1789.
Today off the coast of Louisiana another cunning plan is fast eroding into the sea almost as fast as it is being built. Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, against the advice of ecologist and scientists has gone ahead with his own cunning plan. Just a guess but maybe the scientists were right in saying they would not work. For yet another so-called fiscal conservative (whatever that's supposed to mean) it sounds like a bizarre way to waste hundreds of millions of dollars. The construction equipment is being submerged as this expensive, shoot-from-the-hip program sinks. Even if the islands weren't crumbling into the sea they still would severely disrupt fish who need access to the marshes. Do Republicans ever step back and think about consequences before they rush into massive plans? Click through to see the other photos of Jindal's expensive mistake.
A dramatic series of of aerial images show that plans to build artificial islands to block oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from reaching Louisiana's sensitive marshland appear to be crumbling. Literally.
Two months ago, against the advice of many coastal scientists, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal began furiously campaigning for the construction of six artificial islands to hold back the advancing oil. The federal government quickly granted Jindal his wish, and construction on the islands has been continuing apace.
But images taken of one construction site near the northern edge of the Chandeleur islands appear to show the sea washing away a giant sand berm over the course of about two weeks.
The first image, at top, was taken on June 25. The second and third, below, were taken from roughly the same vantage point on July 2 and 7. All three images were first published yesterday by coastal scientist Leonard Bahr on his blog, LACoastPost.