A Literal Wall Expert Explains Why Trump's Wall Won't Even Work
President Donald Trump's unrelenting bid to build a wall on the southern border has not only held up much of the federal government for 24 days and counting, its construction could be devastating to the environment and local wildlife.
Now, in a epic Facebook post shared more than 100,000 times, an actual structural and civil engineer explained why the project is also a "monumental waste of money" and will be ineffective if it ever goes up.
"Structurally and civil engineering-wise, the border wall is not a feasible project," wrote Amy Patrick, a structural and civil engineer from Houston, Texas.
"Trump did not hire engineers to design the thing. He solicited bids from contractors, not engineers. This means it's not been designed by professionals. It's a disaster of numerous types waiting to happen," she added.
Patrick teaches structural analysis and design at the University of Houston and says she has been deposed as an expert witness in matters regarding proper wall construction, making her a literal "court-accepted expert on walls."
She shared three major concerns about the wall, including how it could impede the movement of water during flash floods and increase the risk of flooding; that it could disrupt the surrounding ecology; and that the wall prototypes so far are "nearly impossible to build or don't actually do the job," citing an article from Engineering.com.
Trump has demanded Congress hand over more than $5 billion to fund the unpopular wall, and even sought $25 billion for it at one point.
But when all is said and done, Patrick estimates the wall could be as "higher than $50 billion" and won't even be finished in the president's lifetime due to "rework, complexities beyond the prototype design, factors to prevent flood and environmental hazard creation, engineering redesign" and other complications.
The structural forensicist is certain that the project "WILL go wrong" and noted that others in her field might not even want to work on the controversial project, as "a large quotient of us are immigrants, and besides, we can't afford to bid on jobs that are this political."
"We're small firms, and we're already busy, and we don't gamble our reputations on political footballs. So you'd end up with a revolving door of contractors making a giant, uncoordinated muddle of things, and it'd generally be a mess. Good money after bad. The GAO agrees with me," she said.
Further, she argues that the wall "won't be effective" and could, right now, easily scale it with a 32-foot extension ladder and a cheap custom saddle.
"Another thing: we are not far from the day where inexpensive drones will be able to pick up and carry someone," Patrick wrote. "This will happen in the next ten years, and it's folly to think that the coyotes who ferry people over the border won't purchase or create them. They're low enough, quiet enough, and small enough to quickly zip people over any wall we could build undetected with our current monitoring setup."
Patrick is not alone in her derision of Trump's pet project. Most voters remain are strongly opposed to a wall on the Mexican border, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, with 55 percent saying that they reject every argument for the wall.
Opponents also worry that the wall will dissect a border tribe, degrade the natural landscape and threaten 93 endangered and threatened species, including jaguars, ocelots, Mexican gray wolves and cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, according a study from the Center for Biological Diversity.
"Let's have border security, by all means, but let's be smart about it. This is not smart. It's not effective. It's NOT cheap," Patrick concluded. "The returns will be diminishing as technology advances, too. This is a ridiculous idea that will never be successfully executed and, as such, would be a monumental waste of money."
What Will It Take to Stop Trump From Bulldozing Most Diverse Butterfly Center for Border Wall Section Already Funde… https://t.co/YoZlEVFCgb— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1545428786.0
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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