NEW ORLEANS -- A group of local leaders is using this first week of hurricane season to sound an alarm.
They are concerned that unless major changes are made now, Katrina-type hurricanes will continue to whittle the state away.
The call to action was made at the New Canal Lighthouse Museum and Education Center on the lakefront. which was underwater during Hurricane Katrina.
Several citizens groups and lawmakers say change is imperative to save Southeast Louisiana.
"We are arguably, and has been said, the most vulnerable place in the developed world to climate change. The reason for that is, we built a city and the world's largest port, and some of the world's most concentrated energy infrastructure, on top of a delta, and a delta that's already sinking. And by world standards, it's sinking very rapidly," said David Muth of the River Delta Restoration for National Wildlife Federation.
"It's even projected that by 2050, if we don't do anything to stop it, this city of New Orleans could be surround by the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Imagine that for a moment," said state Rep. Walt Leger III, a democrat and Speaker Pro Tempore.
"I can take you to places in Orleans Parish that has lost land. Most people don't realize that. You know, in Orleans Parish, if you drive down Paris Road, there are places in Orleans Parish were there used to be land not there anymore," said state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans East.
The group calls for policy change and elected public servants who will help save the wetlands, let the Mississippi River rebuild the area and fight rising sea levels from the man-made effects on climate change, such as pollution.
They're things that they say are causing destruction from hurricanes.
"If we don't begin the task of rebuilding the delta, then we're going to lose New Orleans. We're going to lose the largest port system in the world, and we're going to lose the most valuable fishery in the lower 48 states. So the stakes couldn't be higher," said Muth.
"For every 2.7 feet that we rebuild in wetlands, we reduce a storm surge by a foot, which is critical to protecting our communities, our business and our people," said Leger.
If you're wondering what you can do at home to combat these changes, there are three simple things: recycle, buy energy efficient cars, and make your home energy efficient, like by using insulation.
We asked the National Weather Service for what its models suggest for the future.
"Higher rainfall with land-falling tropical cyclones. Also an increase in the number of stronger major hurricanes and potentially a slight decrease in the overall number though," said Frank Revitte, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell.