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January 16, 2008


water damage

I agree, the portable barrier is a great idea. It would certainly help reduce the water damage done to homes and cars. Living in New Jersey, I saw the effects of Hurricane Sandy first hand. Hurricanes can be so devastating and we need to figure out ways to reduce their impact.

Mark Bahner

"Am I missing something, or is there utterly no discussion of how a storm surge barrier could be made portable?"

You're not missing anything. I have not discussed potential designs. I think it is better to first achieve widespread agreement that a portable design would be better than something that's permanently fixed in place (like the Thames barrier, similar devices in the Netherlands, the gates protecting Venice, etc.).

Do you agree that a portable system (which could be brought to the location where the storm is going to hit, a day or two before the storm actually hit) would be better than a fixed system that can't be moved to protect different cities (or even different parts of a single city)?

"Anything portable is going to be "ported" a great distance by a storm surge."

Not necessarily. Continents are "portable"...in geological time, and by tectonic forces.

Per Isaac Newton, force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma). So the acceleration of any body is dependent on the mass of the body and the force exerted upon it. Obviously, storm surge is a tremendously large force. But the type of storm surge system I'm currently thinking of would have a total mass (along a 200 km length) of more than 50 million metric tons. (In contrast, the mass of rocks supporting the Thames Barrier is "only" 250,000 metric tons...and the barrier itself is less than 100,000 metric tons). So the portable storm surge system I'm thinking of is quite a mass to move.

And in any case, it's not a problem how much the storm surge system is "ported," as long as the system never actually reaches the shore. For example, suppose the storm surge system is 1 kilometer out to sea, and gets pushed 900 meters inward by the storm surge. It's still 100 meters away from shore.


Am I missing something, or is there utterly no discussion of how a storm surge barrier could be made portable? By the nature of what they are meant to protect against, a storm surge barrier has to be very strongly anchored. Take a look at the amount of concrete involved in anchoring the Thames barrier, or similar devices in Holland, etc. Anything portable is going to be "ported" a great distance by a storm surge.



Please consider re-doing your World Economic Growth forecasts, now that you have a full new decade of data that your previous model lacked (we have actual data up to 2008, with World Bank/IMF projections for 2009 and 2010). You can add a whole new decade to the analysis, which will probably cause some revisions.

Why are you hesitant? Is it because your projections will be forced downward?

Green Giant

I think the portable barrier is a great idea. I am from the north, but the pictures on TV broke my heart. It is important to protect people, and peoples way of life.

Mark Bahner

Hi Lee,

I'm sorry it's taken so long to respond to your comments, and I'm sorry I can't write much tonight.

My thought is that a portable storm surge barrier is the way to go. The idea is that such a barrier could be deployed in a 1-3 days along a significant portion of the Gulf or East coasts (e.g. up to 100 miles of coastline).

One reason I think the portable system is the waqy to go is that it doesn't damage the value of the property it's protecting (e.g., by "ruining the view"). It would be put up a few days before the storm, and taken down a few days afterward.

Also, a portable system could be deployed anywhere. So it wouldn't just protect your part of Mississippi, but also New Orleans. Or Galveston, TX. Or Miami, FL. Or New York City.

I think it will be easier to get money to build a portable system, because it can protect anywhere along both coasts. It's much harder to get the federal government...or even state governments...to pay money to protect only one city.

Best wishes,

Lee Taylor


Live in Diamondhead, MS, whose 250 luxury homes were cleaned, right down to bare slabs, in Katrina.
I had JUST started building my home here, slab had one panel left to finish, when the storm struck. My property is six miles inland, and at 13' elevation. We had 13' of water on the property.
After Katrina, we decided to continue, and I now have a nice new home for my retirement. Every single dime I have is wrapped up in this property.
In Gustaf, three weeks ago, a storm that was OVER 100 MILES away from me, where it came ashore, the storm surge came within THREE FEET HORIZONTALLY from my new home's foundation. I have a couple of stakes in my front yard, high water marks, that will give me nightmares for the rest of my life.
Many other homes actually had substantial damage from the surge, even tho our winds never got about 40 mph.

I started a Storm Surge Barrier proposal in October, '05, and have submitted formal written statements to just about every official in the state, and to the President. I have yet to get a reply from any of them.

About two years into the project, I started contacting local mayors and city councils about the ideas, was turned away COLD, NO interest, in fact, some active and quite vocal opposition. "NO! DAMMIT, NONONO!!!" "You will damage our scenery!"

I hate to tell those people, but massive piles of debris, many graves, and lots of weed-overgrown bare slab lots aren't exactly attractive scenery.

I have come to realize there is a strong psychological reason for those responses. These people have been tremendously brutalized, and they have no way of fighting back, or protesting.
When you are hurt, the self-preservation instinct is to fight back. When there is nothing that you can fight back AGAINST, it is horrible.
And then, when SOMETHING, ANYTHING, ANYONE, does crop up that you can lash out at, it is done with a tremendous vengence, many times without thinking, and without real reason. "DAMN! FINALLY something that I can lash back at!" "Boy, did that feel good!"
There have been instances down here where someone was walking over their destroyed property, and someone stopped them to sympathize. Some kind of slight was "percieved", and the whole thing degenerated into a shooting match. People killed, just because of pent-up destructive, total unable-to-express anger.

O-k, enough of all that.

I have reinstituted my proposal, and with the longer term since Katrina giving time for people to somewhat start to recover mentally, and now the scare reminders of Gustaf and Ike so close together, I think I might get an audience.

I have added a draft of my proposal below, and I would appreciate any useful comments.
I will add that I have a good friend in California who just happens to be the world's leading engineering authority on dam construction, and levees. He retired as Director of the west coast Corps of Engineers, and currently is the senior engineering consultant to raise the level of Folsom Lake in CA by 50'. Folsom Lake and dam are the largest in-state lake and power plant in California.
Clark Stanage has given me carte blanche to use his name as my consultant, and to use him as a phone contact for advice on my proposal. His comment when asked about it was a snicker, and the comment, "Of course it will work, Lee. My problem would be finding engineers willing to work on such a minor project."

OOPS. forgot I just had a computer stolen, and the electronic text of my proposal was on it.
I will be re-entering it on this computer shortly, and anyone interested please contact me at syindigo@yahoo.com, attn: SSB


Mark, BTW, you are taking a CAGR of your growth in HBEs at over 100%. That is too high.

What you should take is 7% (PC growth) X 58% (Moore's Law) = 69% a year.

This is still fast, but much slower than what you have.

Kurzweil glibly says that computing power 'doubles every 12 months'. Actually, it is every 18 months. Big difference. Thus, the 1 billion HBEs will not be in 2024, but rather 2040.

Kurzweil does tend to me right in the *nature* of his predictions, but does tend to overestimate the timing. In his 1999 book, his 2009 predictions are turning out to be too ambitious.



What I am talking about is taking the 2000-08 data for the linear regression. You previous linear regression was with data only up till 2000.

In other words, does the actual data from 2000-08 change anything?



What I am talking about is taking the 2000-08 data for the linear regression. You previous linear regression was with data only up till 2000.

In other words, does the actual data from 2000-08 change anything?

Mark Bahner

Interesting. That made for a very small jpeg. Here's the post:


Mark Bahner


According to my calculations of November 2, 2005, the number of human brain equivalents (HBEs) added in the year 2007 is only about 1000. And it's only 1 million in 2016. It's not until it it hits 1 billion in 2024 that growth should really shoot through the roof. Or at least somewhere in the 2016 to 2004 period.





Coming back to the 21st Century economic growth topic, I see that your analysis was in 2004, off of data until 2000.

Now, can you do a new analysis that includes World GDP data until 2008 (where GDP projections for 2008 are fairly well defined at this point). The data exists on the IMF website.

The inclusion of more data through 2008 might help refine your forecast. Surely you agree that it is time for an update that includes the 2001-08 data.

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