Environmental Justice

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Disturbing the Mississippi: The Language of Science, Engineering, and River Restoration

Around the world, from the U.K. to India, governments and NGOs are formulating plans and raising funds to restore river and floodplain habitat. Much of this restoration work is undertaken in the interest of minimizing or rolling back the effects of disturbances, such as hurricanes, erosion, and urban development, and shoring up resilience, a river’s natural ability to resist disturbances. However, the words used to explain river systems have come to explain what threatens them, and to explain what river restoration must therefore accomplish. Words shape deeds.