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Geekend: The Great Wall Of Oz
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Somedude8
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Somedude8,
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6/27/2014 | 12:05:58 PM
Punch Line?
I thought this was a joke, I kept waiting for the punch line!

This is about as good as dropping nukes in to Hurricanes, and any of countless other wacky schemes to control the weather. Imagine having a series of 1000 foot walls spanning the Great Plains. That would be a weird thing indeed.

Changing weather involves a scale that we are not able to deal with, and complexities far beyond our current understanding.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 2:06:00 PM
Re: Punch Line?
@somedude8- Granted, it is difficult to test, and it may not work. And frankly that's why we'll never do it, because we're not going to try a $200 billion experiment.

That said, man made structures and much small land features change the weather all the time. One only has to watch the fog go into San Francisco to see what happens. Large cities actually alter the weather quite a bit. Concrete absorbs heat differently than soil. For instance, the average temperature of Brooklyn and Westchester differ by over 3 degrees despite being just a few miles apart. 

Three degrees of air temp difference over such a short range produces major effects on air patterns.



Since we're talking about cold air and hot air mixing, changing those absorbtion properties of the surrounding lan and breakign up the wind will have a major effect.

Simulations (and observaitons in similar areas) say this will work. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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6/27/2014 | 12:08:43 PM
Half Baked?
I don't think this idea, as fascinating as it is, is baked at all, nor could it ever be. Even assuming that such a massive structure or series of structures would actually prevent or diminish tornadoes (big assumption), it'll probably just tick off Mother Nature in other ways -- who knows what other adverse weather patterns/conditiions it would create, in the Great Plains and/or elsewhere. Then there's the flawed economics: Millions of people aren't going to move to these structures with their surrounding shopping malls just because the government decided to build them in the middle of no where. Taxpayers (or mountains of more debt) would foot the entire bill. I won't even go into the aesthetics. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 2:14:22 PM
Re: Half Baked?
@Rob- No, that's why the walls can't be empty shells. If you added vertical farming or another industry that created jobs and was also sustainable it changes the balance of the equation. 

I'll be the firs tto admit that if you can't get people to the walls it is too expensive to do anything worthwhile.

As for the environmental impact, that's where I'm more inclined to agree with you. As I said, the dust bowl is a big warning against this. We'd have to be very careful. 

That said, I feel like this is just a part of human existence. One of the reasons the car was incented (and it was marketed this way early in its existence) was to help get the horse poop off the street. It was a response to a change in the environment humans caused. Then the car put CO2 in the air and we're building electric cars and we're building wind turbines to power the electric cars. Now we're findign out the wind turbines are changing the weather where they are. No doubt, we'll find that solar panels en masse will do the same thing.

What will we do? We'll continually find that our solution to one problem creates a new one. And then, we'll solve that one. 

Is that sustainable? I guess it depends on whether you are an optimist or not. But we solved the dust bowl problem. So I don't see why if you have something which will create solutions to problems (in this case, the lack of food and danger form natural disaster) why you don't try to solve that problem first and then solve the next consquences when they come.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/27/2014 | 5:18:24 PM
Re: Half Baked?
If we top the walls with solar panels, all the better. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 6:39:24 PM
Re: Half Baked?
@Lorna- That's what I think. Though i wonder if that wouldn't create the world's scariest laser as the sun was gathered and reflected by a giant wall. We'd be like the ant in the magnifying glass. Still, I think the idea of adding on to what would otherwise be just a brick wall is the way to go.
tekedge
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tekedge,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 4:18:58 PM
Weather Changes
Interesting facts about this much worrisome aspect of enviornment. Loved the optimism that there could be solutions. Having said that to bring this awareness among the world community and convincing them to work towards solutions is such a massive task that it is frightening. But thx for bringing bac the optimism for working towards a better enviornment
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 6:40:34 PM
Re: Weather Changes
@tekedge- It's true. As the climate change will repeatedly make disasters worse, we need to start thinking bigger and raising awareness. A giant wall might not be the right answer, but something big better happen or we're all in toruble.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 11:04:13 PM
Re: Weather Changes
It is true. Years ago, I never worried about natural disasters,until recent years when I noticed more than one first hand. It seems like natural disasters have also increased in its frequency around the world, unless the news coverage is just making such stories more prevalent. I hope we can find more ways to prevent global warming and natural disasters. It's devastating.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 11:13:03 PM
Re: Weather Changes
I think we also need to be more respectful of other aspects of the environment. Such as: recycling, polluting the water and air, not littering, conserving energy, saving the rain forests, etc.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 11:15:28 PM
Re: Weather Changes
I'm skeptical how these walls would hold up in a strong earthquake.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/28/2014 | 2:21:22 AM
Re: Weather Changes
I think the idea is not doable. The lenhth of 1056 miles is not a small tally. I believe that you cannot predict mother nature what it has stored for us. I believe that better ideas will be a underground city :).

Do you feel that its doable. Lets debate.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/28/2014 | 2:25:54 AM
Re: Weather Changes
@Angelfuego I believe that we ned to work out a plan which can serve various purpose. If we are building a wall and somehow it works, whether we will do it where tornadoes and earthquick are a major natural calamities. What about oceans.I think big wall is more suited in case to stop flooding and storms rather tham tornadoes where you are not expecting its touchdown position.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Moderator
6/29/2014 | 7:07:13 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Not sure about this idea, but I'd buy stock in the companies that build them and short the companies that insure them...
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 8:30:09 AM
Re: Weather Changes
@Progman nice one. I will follow your suit. I am not sure who will take the lead but whoso ever will do it will not be doing it without ant benefit. Its a same case as people are enrolling for onr side trip to mars.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 11:47:04 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Progman,

I would just give the whole thing a Big Miss..

Have  a really,really bad feeling about this .

Man has interfered enough with Nature already today;Don't think we should do more such Crazy stuff.

 

 
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 6:42:22 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Agreed @Ashu - not sure I want to be against mother nature.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 8:34:10 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Not sure about this idea, but I'd buy stock in the companies that build them


@progman2000, if at all government takes up this project I am sure it will create lot of employment opportunities and it will help the government in revival of the ecoomy. But the big question is will government take up such initiative ?
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 8:54:29 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Well, it is silly and a little ridiculous, so there is probably a pretty good chance government throws some money at it...
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 11:51:21 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Nomii,

The Dutch have already built something similar(they call it Dykes).

Even New Orleans has a Dyke which burst during the Big Floods a few years back triggering massive Human Losses during Hurricane Katrina.

Sure,it can done but you have to decide which Areas are important enough to be protected by such Dykes.

Not all areas qualify.

Regards

Ashish.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 7:04:42 AM
Re: Weather Changes
@Ashu I was not aware of dykes. Thanks alot for sharing. I will read about them and will discuss. :)
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 12:55:53 PM
Re: Weather Changes
The Dutch Dike system is a perfect example of the type of "think big" system we need to be considering more of. It is widely considered the safest water control system in the world. It is over 350 miles of water control systems (in some places as much as 2 miles wide)  built since 1953. But there are hundreds of miles more that go back to as early as the 9th century and have held ever since. 

It is easy to look at every mistake man makes and assume everything will build after will be a mistake. It is also possible to look at successes that go back more than a thousand years and learn from them.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 11:55:34 AM
Re: Weather Changes
Angel,

Global Warming is as Big a Hoax as there is.

Climate Change on the other hand is the real deal.Human Activity has caused Enormous Changes in the World's Air,Water and Soil today-Almost None of them beneficial to Mother Nature in the Long run.

Climate Change is just a way of Mother Nature Biting back.

The more we try to interfere and intervene the worse its Gonna Get going ahead.

Regards

Ashish.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 3:37:40 PM
Re: Weather Changes
Global Warming is as Big a Hoax as there is.

Climate Change on the other hand is the real deal.


Isn't global warming a particular aspect of climate change?
LUFU
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LUFU,
User Rank: Strategist
6/28/2014 | 7:36:16 PM
Calling Christo to the Rescue
Well, while the idea may seem a bit ludricous and silly, there's one person who could maybe take the anti-tornado wall project on. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Christo!
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 8:36:11 AM
Re: Calling Christo to the Rescue
@LUFU, I could not believe my eyes first but it is really remarkable. But the only problem is that its art work and not solid concrete. :)

I believe that we need to think of more ideas like shifting of himalayas to that place as a force against them. :)

How about that
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 8:37:21 AM
Re: Calling Christo to the Rescue
And sorry I forget, we can hire christo to do the job. 

;0
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 11:44:57 AM
Re: Calling Christo to the Rescue
Nomii,

I most certainly hope your kidding(about shifting the Himalayas);The Chinese tried something similar last year[Move an entire Mountain so as to reduce Air Pollution in a City];It FAILED Miserably.

If a Totalitarian,Dictatorial country could'nt do something similar should America even try?

I don't think so.

On the contrary the Government should be focussed on Spending Less Money today(especially outside America).

Regards

Ashish.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 7:02:43 AM
Re: Calling Christo to the Rescue
@Ashish I believe that it should be a naive idea that will work. Moving hamlayas is not actually that I mean, not moving mountain across the continant but may be creating one like creation of floating island is one of its examples. You can have middle east as a very valid example.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 12:01:17 PM
We Spent over a Trillion Bucks in Iraq,What's a Few Billion here and there?
David,

America spent over a Trillion Dollars(and counting) in Iraq so far.

Look where that's landed us today-Iraq is in worse shape than ever and very much in Danger of Splitting up as we speak.

Why not spending a few Hundred Billion here in America instead;which may benefit Us in the Long-Run?

Problem is this Interfering with Mother Nature of the worst kind.

Doubt this will end well.

Regards

Ashish.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 8:26:27 AM
Re: We Spent over a Trillion Bucks in Iraq,What's a Few Billion here and there?
Why not spending a few Hundred Billion here in America instead;which may benefit Us in the Long-Run?

@Ashu001, I totally agree with you. I think investing in America instead is good idea. Instead of spending $187 on building walls we can use the same amount to improve the warning systems and build tornado safe buildings where you can evacuate poeple.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 2:33:05 PM
creative solution
While this seems like a creative e solution I would want to see it tested. To your point, we may create another more serious problem. I would love to see someone experiment with a solution that interferes with the elements that allow tornados to form in the atmosphere stopping their development altogether.
Hospice_Houngbo
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Hospice_Houngbo,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 8:09:15 PM
Re: creative solution
How will this experiment be performed? Interfering with the elements that affect tornado formation may be possible in a lab setting, but how this will help replicate the phenomenon in real life may not easy.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 12:16:56 PM
Re: creative solution
@impactnow: Now that may be possible, but what if the process damages the atmosphere? Since tornadoes are formed due to varying temperature winds being mixed with each other at varying speeds, and also the surrounding moisture, most of the controlling would have to be done at the lower atmosphere, and this would include dispersing chemicals or heat waves that evenly warm the mixing winds to avert a tornado.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 12:59:45 PM
Re: creative solution
@Impactnow- You're someone who believes. I like you. :)

It is admitedly difficult to test at full scale. The idea would be to create several real test walls scattered across the suggested path of the walls and monitor what happens to the air flow. And then slowly, we'd put more up and close the wall. Presumably, we'd see some of the issues, before the whole thing was built, but it wouldn't be cheap.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
6/29/2014 | 9:51:20 PM
Lawsuits
If this were ever attempted, it would obviously affect numerous BIG Players, such as the various subsets of agribusiness, in a multitude of ways that I can't even imagine. The lawsuits would go on into well into the 22nd Century.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 1:03:04 PM
Re: Lawsuits
@Gary_El- I know in reality, you don't need much of a reason to sue anyone these days, but what would be the legal grounds anyone would have to sue on for this?

Clearly, the thing is designed for public safety and the tennants of the space would be legal (whether agribusiness or others). Not sure how what grounds you'd have to stop it on.

Now, from a political point of view, I totally see it. The Keystone pipeline is a perfect example of how something can be delayed for years or even decades by politics regardless of which side of the political fence you are on.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 1:47:32 PM
Re: Lawsuits
Well, if this thing can stop hurricanes, it will probably affect other weather events, too. A regional farming business might get colder or hotter temperatures, or receive more or less rain. It will affect crop yield, probably for the worse. The result? A lawsuit, and ultimately, a Supreme Court Ruling on causing deliberate climate change.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 7:35:44 AM
Building walls
OK so I see a couple problems here.  First the disclaimer in there that went along the lines of "scientists aren't sure but they think..." and "maybe warm air pushes one end up" and "maybe hail or rain pushes the other end down"  that's a lot of guessing what might cause tornados to be advising the building of a $190 billion wall.  What happens if that's not how they are formed and that wall not only doesn't stop tornados but it actually intensifies the tornados that do form? 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 12:15:19 PM
Re: Building walls
@SaneIT: That would be insane. If such a project is undertaken, working models would have to be created first in wind blast tunnels. If the model fails then there's no question of spending 190 billion of stone walls. Better build sturdier buildings.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 7:39:07 AM
Re: Building walls
@ yalanand, I can see some issues that will not be seen in wind tunnel testing.  I know it was mentioned in the blog post but you're pretty much building a mountain ridge across the plains.  The animals displaced, people displaced and foliage destroyed to put this wall up is going to be a real issue.  Another issue I see that maybe a wind tunnel could show if they spend long enough testing the angles of the wind against the wall is making storms worse as I mentioned before.  If you've ever been between two tall buildings when the wind is blowing you know that the wind speeds up between those buildings.  I wonder if putting that wall in the wrong spot could actually spin up even bigger storms at  either end of the wall as super fast winds come off the wall.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/1/2014 | 12:04:09 PM
Re: Building walls
@SaneIT- It absolutely would spin up bigger storms if it was an uninterupted smooth wall. It would act like a scoop and send air straight up which is bad. But if you break up the wall, make sure it has shape and texture,  etc, you could avoid that. Just like Manhattan doesn't act like a giant wind scoop.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 1:05:33 PM
Re: Building walls
@SaneIT- I think that language is there because unlike the rest of the world, science likes to be careful with its words. That is the concensus on how they are formed. Even if the details aren't fyully worked out, we know tornadoes form in areas where cold and hot air masses meet and create a circular air mass. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 7:32:44 AM
Re: Building walls
@David, that could be, but if I'm spending $190 billion I need more than "this might work".  Having lived through several hurricanes there always seems to be someone talking about how they could stop the storms or change their path but I have yet to see someone actually do it.  Given the cost of repairing all the damage done by a hurricane it would make sense to kill the storm before it makes landfall so why haven't we seen a storm killing system yet?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/1/2014 | 12:02:03 PM
Re: Building walls
@SaneIT- I think the obvious answer is that they cost $190 billion. :)

No seriously, here's the problem. To stop giant storms you need a giant system. To make a giant system it costs a lot of money and you have to admit that you can't promise it works until it stands up to the first storm. So no one wants to pay for the experiment. Rinse and repeat.

I get that. But at one point or another we're going to have to trust someone if we want to stop this.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2014 | 7:17:47 AM
Re: Building walls
Years ago we had talks about companies who wanted to go out and seed a hurricane or disrupt its formation and IIRC they were shut down by several government departments for obvious reasons.  You can't exactly go dumping chemicals from the sky at will.   The US government even tried this years ago with a project called Storm Fury and it was determined that it just wasn't worth the effort.  The expense was a fixed cost in the billions for what might be a chance to stop a once in a decade storm.  I suspect the wall suffers from this same problem.  It won't stop every tornado and the ones that end up weaker because of the wall will be few and far between.  I'm not saying that dreaming up big ideas like this is pointless, I love to read about a fanciful solution for big problems but it's a hard sell to say the least.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 11:31:22 AM
Re: The Great Wall of Oz
I think the value here is how easily it gets us all talking about something as important as climate change and our responsibility to the environment. When we talk about things like the Dutbowl (perfect example, Dave, and you made me want to watch that documentary), that really tugs at a core human issue we can't avoid - what do we owe back to the planet that gives us so much, will we ever fully understand it, and what our the consquences if we mess up? For some of these issues, it will not affect us, but instead, our children -what about our responsibility to them? Is technology or progress always the answer? A giant wall won't answer that question, but at least it will get us talking about it.

As for the wall itself, I'll agree that it's more sky than pie of an idea. Maybe it would work, scientifically, but the cost-benefit ends up awful sketchy any way you slice it. About offsetting the cost by putting people, vertical farming, etc. in it? It all seems very speculative - none of us are qualified to to talk about any of that, and as we've seen many times, often the 'experts' aren't either. As for the general notion that we should spend less money on war and more on humanitarian efforts? Here here, you won't find me disagreeing. Maybe it's not that simple, but I think in the year 2014 our priorities could do with a little re-evaluating at the least.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 1:09:42 PM
Re: The Great Wall of Oz
@zerox203- Exactly. You get the spirit. The point is not to worry about this idea specifically (though it is a fun place to start) but ot use it as the start of a discussion on major issues including climate change, public safety in an increasingly dangerous world as climate change takes hold, and the beed to take prevention seriously.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 2:13:58 PM
Re: The Great Wall of Oz
Hmmmm...I forsee a government marketing campaign here: "If you build it, they won't come..." Catchy, no?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:05:34 PM
Re: The Great Wall of Oz
@vnewman2- Love it! Also, "This is your plain without walls. This is your plain with walls. Any questions?"
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 3:38:34 PM
Re: The Great Wall of Oz
Hahahaha! A classic David! One of my favorite fear-tactic PSAs!
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 12:13:25 PM
Re:Geekend: The Great Wall Of Oz
Some new technology. Next thing we'll come across is energy harvesting from tornadoes using portable windmills? Anything is possible. Rural damage from tornadoes would be averted if people would construct stone buildings instead of wood buildings. Woodwork costs more than stone anyway.


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