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6/27/2014
10:11 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Geekend: The Great Wall Of Oz

Can giant walls stop tornadoes and bring an economic boost to the Midwest?

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After Ballmer: 8 Execs You Love To Hate
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Maybe he has watched too much Game of Thrones, Sharknado, or The Wizard of Oz. A scientist from Temple University, Rongjia Tao, has hatched a crazy (but genius) plan to stop tornadoes in the US plains by building huge, sprawling walls to simulate the effect of mountains.

The US is hit by about 1,200 tornadoes each year, killing an average of 60 people, injuring another 1,500, and causing $400 million in damages. In 2011 alone, three mega-twisters caused more than $6 billion in damages.

Before we go into Tao's plan, here's a great video on why the US has so many tornadoes and how they form:

As the video shows in detail, tornadoes are formed when winds of two different speeds and temperature collide. Tao maintains that one way to stop this from happening is to interrupt the airflow when the winds collide. He studied other regions similar to the US that have confluences of cold and warm air but have fewer tornadoes. What he discovered is that many of these areas have walls of mountains, specifically three sets in China, that prevent the air from mixing in such a violent way. In places where the mountains don't interrupt the airflow, the tornadoes are worse.

[Can you tell the difference between parody and truth? Read Geekend: Onion Or Real?]

As for the walls Tao suggests building to simulate the effect of mountains, they might look something like this:

I'm only partially joking. While the Game of Thrones walls are said to be miles high, Tao's walls would still be an imposing 984 feet high and 164 feet wide, tying them with the 90th tallest building in the world and the 15th tallest building in the US. Only four US cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston) have buildings that tall. (Side note: This is why I think the multi-mile-high walls in Game of Thrones are by far the least believable aspect of the story. I'd sooner believe in dragons and trees with faces than believe that a pre-industrial society could build a wall that high.)

If Tao has done his math right, something like this will happen (watch it all the way through):

OK, it won't quite be like that, but Tao's walls would break the wind patterns. But to do that, they would need to be miles long and run across three major tornado sources, in Oklahoma, North Dakota, and parts of Texas and Louisiana. So we're not just talking the height of these buildings, but their massive lengths.

The idea is genius even if a bit out there. The walls could include housing and weather shelters, even schools and shopping. Towns and cities in the area could move some of their most vulnerable buildings into these secure structures. If you can add some economic value to these walls rather than just make them pointless brick walls, there's no reason they can't house entire cities.

Before we get carried away, how much will these structures cost? Would the cost of the wall far surpass the savings from avoiding tornadoes? Tao doesn't think so. By taking account of the cost of a similar building in Philadelphia, he estimates that a one-mile, 1,000-foot wall would cost around $160 million. Bear in mind that unlike a building that people work in, most of the structure can be solid, without duct work or electricity, so they're easier and cheaper to build. Tao says that if you compare the cost to the billions of dollars in recent tornado losses, it seems doable.

But here's the problem: The three mountain ranges that Tao studied totaled 1,056 miles in length. If it took 1,000 miles of mountains

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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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.
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.
Ashu001
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50%
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.

 

 
Ashu001
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0%
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: Moderator
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
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Moderator
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: Moderator
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.
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...
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: Moderator
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.
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