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Should cities that have lost their purpose be abandoned? Should a metropolis that stands in the way of hurricanes or earthquakes be handed over to nature? It’s a question few are brave enough even to ask – no mayor wants to be the official who turns the lights out on their community.

But Timothy Kusky, professor of ­natural sciences at St Louis University, believes that’s what should – and will – happen in New Orleans. “We should not be rebuilding New Orleans,” says Kusky. “Let the areas that were destroyed by Katrina – and will be next time –…

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