Professor suggests building ‘great walls’ costing $16B each to stop tornadoes

Kaitlyn Schallhorn

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  • Prof. Tao believes that three walls, each nearly 1,000 feet high, could stop warm and cold air from clashing.
  • Skeptics say that Tao has an incorrect understanding of how tornadoes form.
  • A Temple University professor has proposed a wall stretching hundreds of miles across southeast Texas and Louisiana standing at almost 1,000 feet high—and no, it’s not meant to stop illegal immigration.

    Rongjia Tao, a physicist at the Philadelphia school, has proposed a trio of such walls to block tornadoes that run rampant throughout the southern and midwestern states that make up Tornado Alley.

    “The things that the wall would affect are not the things that cause tornadoes.”   

    “I looked at how tornadoes form,” Tao told Campus Reform in an interview. “It’s simple. We just need to build a wall.”

    Tao’s plan requires building three “great walls”: one in North Dakota, one in Oklahoma, and one stretching across south Texas and Louisiana that will “weaken or block such air mass clashes and therefore diminish the major tornado threat in the Tornado Alley forever,” according to his paper provided to Campus Reform, “Eliminating the Major Tornado Threat in Tornado Alley.”.

    According to Tao’s paper, set to be published in the International Journal for Modern Physics B, constructing these walls will drastically reduce devastation caused by tornadoes.

    However, the physics professor’s proposal doesn’t sit well with critics well-versed in severe weather.

    “The things that the wall would affect are not the things that cause tornadoes,” Joshua Wurman of the Center for Severe Weather Research told Campus Reform. “It’s a poorly conceived and not well thought out idea.”

    Wurman said that while the walls would “certainly block some wind,” Tao doesn’t have a complete grasp on the understanding of tornadoes. Wurman said that the general teaching that tornadoes are created by a clash of warm and cold air is, for the most part, inaccurate.

    According to the meteorologist, most tornadoes, including some of the most devastating ones the country has seen, are formed in warm air centers.

    Besides the ineffectiveness, Wurman said Tao’s walls would cause more harm than good. The shade they create could hinder local agriculture and their construction efforts would lead to a number of deaths.

    “I would imagine that the number of construction deaths versus the number of lives saved, even if it did work, would be a case where the cure is probably worse than the initial illness,” Wurman said.

    The walls estimate a cost of $16 billion each, but Wurman thinks the actual cost will be much higher taking into account the length of time for construction and the massive amount of resources needed. 

    Via Houston Chronicle.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn


    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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