Wednesday, February 26, 2014

But, But, He's An Expert!

A cautionary tale of what happens when a scientist steps outside of his specialty to pontificate.

The Detroit Free Press: Can giant walls protect the U.S. from tornadoes?

Sounds like a great idea right? But in a word, no.

One scientist thinks we can protect parts of the central United States from ferocious tornadoes by building several gigantic walls across Tornado Alley:

“If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest .... one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever,” according to physicist Rongjia Tao of Temple University.

The walls would need to be about 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide, he said. Tao is presenting his research next week at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in Denver.

Apparently there's a fair bit of healthy skepticism regarding this plan:

Naysayers abound. Aside from the cost of $60 billion per 100 miles (according to Tao’s estimates) and huge engineering challenges, “it wouldn’t work,” tornado researcher Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said in an e-mail.

Brooks said that China has deadly tornadoes despite the east-west mountain ranges there. In addition, he said, tornadoes still occur in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri despite the presence there of smaller east-west mountain ranges similar in size to Tao’s proposed walls.

“If his hypothesis was true, we’d already have the thing he wants to build naturally,” Brooks said.

“This is essentially a case of a physicist, who may be very good in his sub-discipline, talking about a subject about which he is abysmally ignorant,” Brooks said.

Another expert, meteorologist Mike Smith of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, also called the theory “nonsense.”

Global warmists that similarly think they have all the simple answers, take note.

A further reason beyond those given in the article as to why this will never work: Even if it could work, we can't even build a comparatively small wall across our southern border.

Anyone really think we would be able to build a series of 1,000 foot high, 150 foot thick walls stretching for hundreds of miles? The environmental impact stage alone would take decades and the cost overruns would push this into the trillions.


Jon said...

Heck, we can't even successfully build an impenetrable fence across the southern border, nowhere near as tall.

jon spencer said...

Here is a article saying that windmills can stop hurricanes.
Would those windmills use the same amount of concrete and steel that the tornado wall does?

ProudHillbilly said...

And they would radically change the airflow. I realize that that's the idea as far as tornadoes go, but there would be other consequences to that.

Murphy's Law said...

On the other hand...what a backstop. It could be the world's longest shooting ranges!