Category Archives: Water

Flood Mapping and Flood Dynamics of the Mekong Delta

Source: www.mdpi.com/journal/remotesensing

ISSN 2072-4292

Flood Mapping and Flood Dynamics of the Mekong Delta:

ENVISAT-ASAR-WSM Based Time Series Analyses

Claudia Kuenzer 1,*, Huadong Guo 2, Juliane Huth 1, Patrick Leinenkugel 1, Xinwu Li 2

and Stefan Dech 1

1 German Remote Sensing Data Center, DFD, German Earth Observation Center (EOC), German

Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, D-82234 Wessling, Germany;

E-Mails: juliane.huth@dlr.de (J.H.); patrick.leinenkugel@dlr.de (P.L.); Stefan.dech@dlr.de (S.D.)

2 Center for Earth Observation & Digital Earth (CEODE), Chinese Academy of Science,

Beijing 100094, China; E-Mails: hdguo@ceode.ac.cn (H.D.G.); xwli@ceode.ac.cn (X.W.L.)

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: claudia.kuenzer@dlr.de;

Tel.: +49-8153-28-3280; Fax: +49-8153-28-1458.

Received: 20 November 2012; in revised form: 1 February 2013 / Accepted: 1 February 2013 /

Published: 5 February 2013

Abstract: Satellite remote sensing is a valuable tool for monitoring flooding. Microwave

sensors are especially appropriate instruments, as they allow the differentiation of

inundated from non-inundated areas, regardless of levels of solar illumination or frequency

of cloud cover in regions experiencing substantial rainy seasons. In the current study we

present the longest synthetic aperture radar-based time series of flood and inundation

information derived for the Mekong Delta that has been analyzed for this region so far. We

employed overall 60 Envisat ASAR Wide Swath Mode data sets at a spatial resolution of

150 meters acquired during the years 2007–2011 to facilitate a thorough understanding of

the flood regime in the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam comprises

13 provinces and is home to 18 million inhabitants. Extreme dry seasons from late

December to May and wet seasons from June to December characterize people’s rural life.

In this study, we show which areas of the delta are frequently affected by floods and which

regions remain dry all year round. Furthermore, we present which areas are flooded at

which frequency and elucidate the patterns of flood progression over the course of the rainy

season. In this context, we also examine the impact of dykes on floodwater emergence and

assess the relationship between retrieved flood occurrence patterns and land use. In addition,

the advantages and shortcomings of ENVISAT ASAR-WSM based flood mapping are

discussed. The results contribute to a comprehensive understanding of Mekong Delta flood

dynamics in an environment where the flow regime is influenced by the Mekong River,

overland water-flow, anthropogenic floodwater control, as well as the tides.

Keywords: flood; flood dynamics; flood progression; water detection; inundation; radar;

Envisat; ASAR; WSM; feature extraction; time series; Mekong Delta; Vietnam

Cambodian Future House Competition Winning Proposals

Source: http://www.archdaily.com/350682/cambodian-future-house-competition-winning-proposals/

Building Trust International, a non-profit organization offering design assistance to communities and individuals in need, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and Karuna Cambodia announced the joint winners of the design competition that brings new life to housing design and delivery for low income families living in . The winning projects include: ‘Wet + Dry House’ by Mary Ann Jackson, Ralph Green, Muhammad Kamil and Nick Shearman from Australian firm Visionary Design Development Pty Ltd., ‘Courtyard House’ by Jess Lumley & Alexander Koller from the UK, and ‘Open Embrace’ by Keith Greenwald and Lisa Ekle from USA. The Winning Student Design was by Sanaz Amin Deldar, Nastaran Hadidi, Ehsan Naderi and Simak Khaksar from Iran. More images and information after the break.

 

Courtesy of Jess Lumley and Alexander Koller

The design competition asked for designs of a $2000 house that can withstand flooding and offer a safe and secure home for low income families in Cambodia. Habitat for Humanity Cambodia have supported the competition from the start and now plan to deliver these homes in the coming months giving the families that they support a chance to choose a design that relates to their specific lifestyle needs. Hoping to provide poor Cambodians with a better standard of living, the winning projects will be built later this year.

Courtesy of Keith Greenwald and Lisa Ekle

The jury picked three designs that reflected the desire to have a large flexible space to meet changing family needs, a space to rear chickens and a design that allowed for a shop front on the ground floor. A wide range of submissions made use of sustainable materials and highlighted the need for Cambodia to look at the nature of the booming construction industry and to think about more environmentally friendly ways of meeting the housing demand. The short listed designs show both traditional and new techniques in reducing the carbon footprint of delivering new homes. There will be an exhibition in Phnom Penh in May showcasing the best designs and the winning projects.

Cite:Furuto , Alison. “Cambodian Future House Competition Winning Proposals” 30 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Apr 2013. <http://www.archdaily.com/350682&gt;

 

Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change Report

Mekong ARCC Draft Final Report of CCIA Study
26 March 2013
Author: Mekong ARCC
The Mekong ARCC Climate Study Team has released the Draft Final Report at the Final Results Workshop on Climate Change Impact and Adaptation (CCIA) Study for the Lower Mekong Basin, which was held on 28-29 March 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
Mekong ARCC Draft Final Report of CCIA Study
Mekong ARCC Draft Final Report of CCIA Study
1 Photo
The project is currently seeking public comment on the draft until April 12, 2013.  Please send all comments for consideration by the Climate Study team to Mr. Simon Tilleard(simon.tilleard@icem.com.au).

Phnom Penh Water Over Time

Thank you to Pagna Serey for sharing this great map. Pagna is a visiting scholar at Parsons and a Cambodian architect. Here is the PDF.

water changing

 

 

Asian Water Development Outlook 2013

Asian Water Development Outlook 2013

Pages from asian-water-development-outlook-2013-3

Unfortunately, when compared to the rest of Asia, Cambodia near the bottom in nearly every ranking of Water-Related Disaster Resilience, Governance, and Urban Water Security

Pages from asian-water-development-outlook-2013Pages from asian-water-development-outlook-2013-2

1. Water Security Framework of Five Interdependent Key Dimensions
2. National Water Security in Asia and the Pacic
3. Regional Water Security Index by Subregion (population-weighted)
4. National Water Security and Governance
5. Household Water Security by Subregion (population-weighted)
6. Access to Improved Water Supply—Piped and Non-Piped (%)
7. Access to Improved Sanitation (%)
8. Household Water Security and Per Capita Gross Domestic Product
9. Economic Water Security Index by Subregion (population-weighted)
10. Economic Water Security and Per Capita Gross Domestic Product
11. Urban Water Security by Subregion (population-weighted)
12. Water-Sensitive Cities Framework
13. Urban Water Security—Progress toward Water-Sensitive Cities
14. Urban Water Security and Per Capita Gross Domestic Product
15. Resilience to Water-related Disasters by Subregion (population-weighted)
16. National Water-Related Disaster Resilience Index Relative to Per Capita Gross Domestic Product
17. Water-Related Disaster Resilience Index
18. Water-Related Hazard Relative to Resilience
19. Water-Related Disaster Fatalities Relative to National Resilience
20. Estimated Mean Annual Water-Related Disaster Damages ($ per person)

Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta

Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 6.10.17 PM

Winner of the George Perkins Marsh Award

In the twentieth century, the Mekong Delta has emerged as one of Vietnams most important economic regions. Its swamps, marshes, creeks, and canals have played a major role in Vietnams turbulent past, from the struggles of colonialism to the Cold War and the present day. Quagmire considers these struggles, their antecedents, and their legacies through the lens of environmental history.

“This work is an original and innovative approach to the contemporary history of Viet Nam.” -Environmental History

“Biggs is clearly a major talent, who has written a path-breaking book that enables us to see, experience, and interpret the delta anew.” -Journal of Contemporary Asia

David Biggs is associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside.

First Week / Last Week

Last Week

Week 32

First Week

Mekong Riverfront

Week 35 Time Lapse

I missed Weeks 32, 33 + 34.  The water level has dropped another 1.4 meters in that time.  All photos here on Flickr.

Live water levels from the Mekong River Commission here and here and here. Rainfall levels are here (Tonle Sap Delta).

Phnom Penh (Bassac)
Flood level = 12.00 m
Alarm level = 10.50 m

Water level on Monday, December 03, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.29 m
Minimum level = 1.58 m
All levels are above zero gauge
(Zero gauge Phnom Penh (Bassac) = -1.02 m above MSL)

Water level on Monday, November 05, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.87 m
Minimum level = 1.58 m
All levels are above zero gauge
(Zero gauge Phnom Penh (Bassac) = -1.02 m above MSL)

Water level on Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.47 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 = 8.43 m

Water level on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.36 m
Forecast level on Thursday, October 04, 2012 = 8.25 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.50 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.42 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 20, 2012 = 8.36 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.13 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 13, 2012 = 8.13 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 8.13 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 06, 2012 = 8.27

Water level on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.76 m
Forecast level on Saturday, September 01, 2012 = 7.81 m

Water level on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.22 m
Forecast level on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 = 7.19 m

Water level on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 6.91 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 = 6.98 m

Water level on Monday, August 06, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.30 m
Forecast level on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 = 7.55 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.28 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, August 01, 2012 = 5.43 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.95 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 = 4.82 m

Water level on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.82 m
Forecast level on Thursday, July 12, 2012 = 5.69 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.26 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 = 5.18 m

Phnom Penh Port
Flood level = 11.00 m
Alarm level = 9.50 m

Water level on Monday, December 03, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 3.59 m
Minimum level = 0.14 m
All levels are above zero gauge
(Zero gauge Phnom Penh Port = 0 m above MSL)

Water level on Monday, November 05, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.06 m
Minimum level = 0.14 m
All levels are above zero gauge
(Zero gauge Phnom Penh Port = 0 m above MSL)

Water level on Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.61 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 = 7.58 m

Water level on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.50 m
Forecast level on Thursday, October 04, 2012 = 7.41 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.60 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.53 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 20, 2012 = 7.48 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.25 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 13, 2012 = 7.25 m

Water level on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 7.19 m
Forecast level on Thursday, September 06, 2012 = 7.33 m

Water level on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 6.85 m
Forecast level on Saturday, September 01, 2012 = 6.90 m

Water level on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 6.27 m
Forecast level on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 = 6.24 m

Water level on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 5.99 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 = 6.06 m

Water level on Monday, August 06, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 6.47 m
Forecast level on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 = 6.70 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.42 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, August 01, 2012 = 4.57 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.07 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 = 3.94 m

Water level on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.66 m
Forecast level on Thursday, July 12, 2012 = 4.54 m

Water level on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 07:00 AM = 4.35 m
Forecast level on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 = 4.28

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13
Week 14
Week 15
Week 16
Week 17
Week 18
Week 19
Week 20
Week 21
Week 22
Week 23
Week 24
Week 25
Week 26
Week 27
Week 28 – Omit
Week 29 – Omit
Week 30 – Omit
Week 31
Week 32 – Omit
Week 33 – Omit
Week 34 – Omit

Location.

Map1

Week 35 – 30 November 2012 – view left.

Week 35

Week 31 – 8 November 2012 – view left.

Week 31

Week 27 – 9 October – view left.

Week 27

Week 26 – 3 October – view left.

Week 26 - Time Lapse

Week 25 – 26 September – view left.

Week 25 - Time Lapse

Week 24 – 19 September 2012 – view left.

Week 24

Week 23 – 12 September 2012 – view left.

Week 23 Time Lapse

Week 22 – 5 September 2012 – view left.

DSC_3443

Week 21 – 30 August 2012 – view left.

Week 21 Time Lapse

Week 20 – 20 August 2012 – view left.

Week 20

Week 19 – 14 August 2012 – view left.

Week 19 River Time Lapse

Week 18 – 6 August 2012 – view left.

Week 18

Week 17 – 1 August 2012 – view left.

Week 17

Week 16 – 24  July 2012 – view left.

Week 16 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 15 – 17 July 2012 – view left.

WEEK 15 - PHNOM PENH RIVER TIME LAPSE

Week 14 – 11 July 2012 – view left.

11 July - Time Lapse

Week 13 – 3 July 012 – view left.

3 July - Week 13

Week 12 – 25 June 2012 – view left.

Week 12 - 25 June

Week 11 – 18 June 2012 – view left.

Week 11 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 10 – 12 June 2012 – view left.

Week 10 - Phnom Penh Time Lapse

Week 9 – 2 June 2012 – view left.

Week 9 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 8 – 26 May 2012 – view left.

Week 8 - May 26

Week 7 – 18 May 2012 – view left.

Week 7 - May 18

Week 6 – 11 May 2012 – view left.

Week 6 - May 11

Week 5 – 6 May 2012 – view left.

6 May - Week 5

Week 4 – 27 April 2012 – view left.

Week 4 - 27 April

Week 3 – 21 April 2012 – view left.

21 April - Week 3

Week 2 – 12 April 2012 – view left.

12 April 2012

Week 1 – 6 April 2012 – view left.

6 April 2012

Week 35 – 30 November 2012 – view right.

Week 35

Week 31 – 8 November 2012 – view right.

Week 31

Week 27 – 9 October 2012 – view right.

Week 27

Week 26 – 3 October – view right.

Week 26 - Time Lapse

Week 25 – 26 September – view right.

Week 25 - Time Lapse

Week 24 – 19 September – view right.

Week 24

Week 23 – 12 September 2012 – view right.

Week 23 Time Lapse

Week 22 – 5 September 2012 – view right.

Week 22

Week 21 – 30 August 2012 – view right.

Week 21 Time Lapse

Week 20 – 20 August 2012 – view right.

Week 20

Week 19 – 14 August 2012 – view right.

Week 19 River Time Lapse

Week 18 – 6 August 2012 – view right.

Week 18

Week 17 – 1 August 2012 – view right.

Week 17

Week 16 – 24 July 2012 – view right.

Week 16 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 15 – 17 July 2012 – view right.

WEEK 15 - PHNOM PENH RIVER TIME LAPSE

Week 14 – 11 July 2012 – view right.

Week 14 - 11 July - Time Lapse

Week 13 – 3 July 012 – view right.

3 July - Week 13

Week 12 – 25 June 2012 – view right.

Week 12 - 25 June

Week 11 – 18 June 2012 – view right.

Week 11 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 10 – 12 June 2012 – view right.

Week 10 - Phnom Penh Time Lapse

Week 9 – 2 June 2012 – view right.

Week 9 - Phnom Penh River Time Lapse

Week 8 – 25 May 2012 – view right.

Week 8 - May 26

Week 7 – 18 May 2012 – view right.

Week 7 - May 18

Week 6 – 11 May 2012 – view right.

DSC_9770

Week 5 – 6 May 2012 – view right.

6 May - Week 5

Week 4 – 27 April 2012 – view right.

Week 4 - 27 April

Week 3 – 21 April 2012 – view right.

21 April - Week 3

Week 2 – 12 April 2012 – view right.

12 April 2012

Week 1 – 6 April 2012 – view right.

6 April 2012

Is This The End?

Source: NY Times

Owen Freeman

By JAMES ATLAS Published: November 24, 2012 28 Comments

WE’D seen it before: the Piazza San Marco in Venice submerged by the acqua alta; New Orleans underwater in the aftermath of Katrina; the wreckage-strewn beaches of Indonesia left behind by the tsunami of 2004. We just hadn’t seen it here. (Last summer’s Hurricane Irene did a lot of damage on the East Coast, but New York City was spared the worst.) “Fear death by water,” T. S. Eliot intoned in “The Waste Land.” We do now.

Multimedia

There had been warnings. In 2009, the New York City Panel on Climate Change issued a prophetic report. “In the coming decades, our coastal city will most likely face more rapidly rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, as well as potentially more droughts and floods, which will all have impacts on New York City’s critical infrastructure,” said William Solecki, a geographer at Hunter College and a member of the panel. But what good are warnings? Intelligence agents received advance word that terrorists were hoping to hijack commercial jets. Who listened? (Not George W. Bush.) If we can’t imagine our own deaths, as Freud insisted, how can we be expected to imagine the death of a city?

History is a series of random events organized in a seemingly sensible order. We experience it as chronology, with ourselves as the end point — not the end point, but as the culmination of events that leads to the very moment in which we happen to live. “Historical events might be unique, and given pattern by an end,” the critic Frank Kermode proposed in “The Sense of an Ending,” his classic work on literary narrative, “yet there are perpetuities which defy both the uniqueness and the end.” What he’s saying (I think) is that there is no pattern. Flux is all.

Last month’s “weather event” should have taught us that. Whether in 50 or 100 or 200 years, there’s a good chance that New York City will sink beneath the sea. But if there are no patterns, it means that nothing is inevitable either. History offers less dire scenarios: the city could move to another island, the way Torcello was moved to Venice, stone by stone, after the lagoon turned into a swamp and its citizens succumbed to a plague of malaria. The city managed to survive, if not where it had begun. Perhaps the day will come when skyscrapers rise out of downtown Scarsdale.

Humans are ingenious. Our species tends to see nature as something of a nuisance, a phenomenon to be outwitted. Consider efforts to save Venice: planners have hatched one scheme after another to prevent the city from sinking. Industrial development has been curtailed. Buildings dating from the Renaissance have been “relocated.”

The most ambitious project, begun a decade ago, is the installation of mobile gates in the lagoons. Known by the acronym MOSE — the Italian name for Moses, who mythically parted the Red Sea — it’s an intricate engineering feat: whenever the tide rises, metal barriers that lie in concrete bunkers on the sea floor are lifted by compressed air pressure and pivoted into place on hinges.

Is the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico — the project’s official name — some engineer’s fantasy? It was scheduled for completion this year, but that has been put off until 2014. Even if, by some miracle, the gates materialize, they will be only a stay against the inevitable. Look at the unfortunate Easter Islanders, who left behind as evidence of their existence a mountainside of huge blank-faced busts, or the Polynesians of Pitcairn Island, who didn’t leave behind much more than a few burial sites and a bunch of stone tools. Every civilization must go.

Yet each goes in its own way. In “Collapse,” Jared Diamond showed how the disappearance of a civilization has multiple causes. A cascade of events with unforeseen consequences invariably brings it to a close. The Norse of Greenland cut down their trees (for firewood and other purposes) until there were no more trees, which made it a challenge to build houses or boats. There were other causes, too: violent clashes with the Inuit, bad weather, ice pileups in the fjords blocking trade routes. But deforestation was the prime factor. By the end, no tree fell in the forest, as there was none; and there would have been no one to hear it if it had.

“Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice,” declared Robert Frost. Another alternative would be lava. Pliny the Younger’s letters to Tacitus described the eruption of Mount Vesuvius: A plume of dirt and ash rose in the sky; rocks pelted Pompeii; and then darkness arrived. “It was not like a moonless or cloudy night, but like being in an enclosed place where the light has been doused.” Who did this? It must have been the gods. “Many were raising their hands to implore the gods, but more took the view that no gods now existed anywhere, and that this was an eternal and final darkness hanging over the world.” But of course it wasn’t the end of the world: it was just the end of them.

Contemplating our ephemerality can be a profound experience. To wander the once magnificent Roman cities strung along the Lycian coast of Turkey — now largely reduced to rubble, much still unexcavated — is to realize how extensive, how magisterial this civilization was. Whole cities are underwater; you can snorkel over them and read inscriptions carved into ancient monoliths. Ephesus, pop. 300,000 in the second century A.D., is a vast necropolis. The amphitheater that accommodated nearly 25,000 people sits empty. The Temple of Artemis, said to have been four times larger than the Parthenon, is a handful of slender columns.

YET we return home from our travels intoxicated by beauty, not truth. It doesn’t occur to us that we, too, will one day be described in a guidebook (Fodor’s North America 2212?) as metropolitans who resided in 60-story towers and traveled beneath the waves in metal-sheathed trains.

It’s this willed ignorance, I suspect, that explains why it’s difficult to process the implications of climate change for New York, even in the face of explicit warnings from politicians, not the most future-oriented people. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has been courageous to make global warming a subject of public debate, but will taxpayers support his proposal to build a levee in New York Harbor? Wouldn’t it be easier to think of Sandy as a “once in a lifetime” storm? Even as Lower Manhattan continues to bail itself out — this time in the literal sense — One World Trade Center rises, floor by floor. The governor notes that “we have a 100-year flood every two years now,” which doesn’t stop rents from going up in Battery Park City.

Walking on New York’s Upper East Side, I was reminded by the gargantuan white box atop a busy construction site that the Second Avenue line, first proposed in 1929, remains very much in the works. And why not? Should images of water pouring into the subway tunnels that occupied our newspapers a few weeks back be sufficient to stay us from progress? “I must live till I die,” says the hero of a Joseph Conrad novel. The same could be said of cities.

When, on my way home at night, I climb the steps from the subway by the American Museum of Natural History — itself a monument to transience, with its dinosaurs and its mammoth and its skeleton of a dodo bird, that doomed species whose name has become an idiom for extinction — I feel more keenly than ever the miraculousness, the improbability of New York.

Looking down Central Park West, I’m thrilled by the necklace of green-and-red traffic lights extending toward Columbus Circle and the glittering tower of One57, that vertical paradise for billionaires. And as I walk past the splashing fountain in front of the museum’s south entrance on West 77th Street, I recall a sentence from Edward Gibbon’s ode to evanescence, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” in which “the learned Poggius” gazes down at the remains of the city from the Capitoline hill: “The public and private edifices, that were founded for eternity, lie prostrate, naked, and broken, like the limbs of a mighty giant; and the ruin is the more visible, from the stupendous relics that have survived the injuries of time and fortune.”

This is our fate. All the more reason to appreciate what we have while we have it.

James Atlas is a contributing opinion writer and the author of a forthcoming book about biography.