June 2013

The recent catastrophic F5 tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., is yet another tragedy that should inspire us to ask the question, “What can we do to prevent something like this from ever happening again?”

We ask ourselves this question all the time when human lives are lost. Most often, we search for answers and preventive measures to man-made tragedies, such as mass murders like what happened in Newtown, Conn., last year, or for financial disasters like the housing crisis in the late 2000s. The list can go on and on for these. But what about when nature is the one causing the mass harm? Is there anything we can do to stop it from causing death and widespread destruction costing billions of dollars? Seems there could be an answer and a way to prevent tornados but only if we get serious and find the resources to do it.

According to “Popular Science,” recent research reveals that for a tornado to form it needs both a cold, rainy downdraft and a warm updraft, which suggests that if you just could heat the downdraft, there’d be no tornado. Popular Science goes on to say that blasting the downdraft with microwaves from a fleet of satellites would starve the fledgling tornado and destroy before it ever got started. The European Space Agency has funded initial studies on building this type of satellite, though it hopes to use the satellites as high-altitude solar-power stations, not as weather modifiers.

The United States should get involved with this. Yes, that’s more money, but we spend an enormous amount of money each year on natural disaster rescue, recovery and cleanup. We already have fleets of satellites used for cell phones, GPS, mapping, solar system exploration and spying. Investing in technology to control the weather not only makes sense from the human standpoint, but it also makes sense from an economic standpoint. This does not have to be science fiction; the technology and the know-how are there. We just need to get serious about it and stop asking the same questions every time this happens.


You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.