Could there be a way to stop hurricanes from forming? After all, these monster storms are basically huge heat engines. They appear toward the end of summer, when the top layer of water goes above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And once they form, there is no stopping them.
But suppose there was a way to keep the surface water temperature below 80 degrees. The key is that warm layer of ocean is pretty thin, sometimes less than 100 feet, with much colder water below that. If you mixed the cold lower layers with the warm surface layer enough, the temperature would be lowered to where hurricanes would never develop.
How? Take an inner tube — an old tire will do — and attach a plastic skirt or tube that would extend downward 100 meters or so. Wave action would force surface water into the tube and down toward the colder layers, the two layers would be mixed, and the surface temperature would drop.
Granted, this would require lots of inner tubes lashed together, probably thousands, and placed in strategic areas of the ocean. But the technology is simple and the individual cost is quite reasonable. Certainly the end result would be much cheaper than a killer hurricane.
Some very important people are pursuing this. The idea has been patented by Stephen Salter, one of Britain’s leading marine engineers, with assistance from billionaire Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures (http://www.intellectualventures.com/). The basic plan is explained at http://freakonomics.com/2012/11/06/another-look-at-an-unorthodox-hurricane-prevention-idea/. (The photo came from that website.)
Of course, my favorite natural rule is The Law of Unintended Consequences. Hurricanes play a huge role in dissipating heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. Without this mechanism, how would the overall climate be impacted? And note the referenced article is dated November 6, 2012. Apparently no one is rushing to try this on the planet.
But this idea does raise some important points. First, there may be something we can do to mitigate natural disasters besides cleaning up after them. Second, it helps to use your imagination to find unorthodox solutions. And finally, the best solution just may be the simplest.
Old tires can do more than just be yard swings.