Why Houston Needs a Dome

Too bad we can’t embed the video here. So here’s a transcript of the rationale — presented by the writers of the Discovery Channel’s Mega Engineering series — for building that massive, mile-diameter geodesic dome over Houston (or at least the Downtown part):

Houston, Texas — the country’s fourth most populous city — is in peril.

Houston has always been vulnerable to killer hurricanes: From the great storm of 1900, the deadliest in U.S. history, which killed 8,000 people, to Hurricane Ike in 2008, which caused more than $10 billion in damage, and forced the city center to shut down for nearly a week.

And it’s not only hurricanes. Searing heat and humidity also oppress this great city. On nearly 100 days each year, the temperature climbs above 90 degrees, which in muggy Houston feels even hotter.

Air conditioning provides relief, but at a cost. Houstonians’ soaring electricity use has nudged the city ahead of Los Angeles in the race to become the country’s number-one producer of greenhouse gases — a dubious distinction. And the problem is only getting worse.

Forced to spend a fortune in a losing battle against nature, and with energy costs spiking unpredictably, Houston finds itself square in the path of an environmental juggernaut, which threatens to make the city unlivable.

That’s why some think that the only way to save Houston is to move it indoors.

Diagram of Houston Dome: Engineering, Discovery Channel

7 Comment

  • The dome idea is silly, but if someone could find a way to lower the temperature of Houston by about 12 degrees year round, I would be tempted to support the plan! (Today especially!)

  • Being a consistent watcher of the all the various engineering series on the Discovery networks, I find the trend that they want to profile a concept then fill a story that will make that concept plausible.

    Concept: Super Huge Geodesic Dome

    Use: Find someplace where a large dome may help!

    With Houston recently experiencing Hurricane Ike (not even a year ago), the show’s producers have an angle for a story to base the discussion of engineering a super huge geodesic dome. Throw in the fact Houston does have intense hot/humid summers, they can add another layer to the story.

    Some of their shows are more straight forward such as crossing the Bering Straight with a bridge or building a tunnel across the Atlantic Ocean. The dome idea needed a story for it to work since the concept doesn’t have geography at it’s base.

  • As an engineer I usually like these shows – much to the moaning and groaning delight of the rest of my family, but this is just plan ridiculous. I did not see the episode for this one, but the basic idea has flaws.

    First of all, we will be using a lot more water to keep all of the landscaping alive (which worked ever so well in the Astrodome).

    Second, I can just see how this would look after a hurricane with a two square mile blue tarp stuck over the home in the dome.

    Lastly, how would this save energy costs – walk around the butterfly gardens at Moody or MNH – kinda a little toasty and humid. We would have to air condition the entire space.

    I guess they are officially out of ideas for this show and this one was in the bottom drawer.

  • Let Houston return to the swamp from which it came. It never was, and never will be fit for human habitation.

  • Our air conditioners make us the smoggiest city? What did Exxon underwrite this show?

    The first two minutes of the video were priceless.

  • Stupid idea, if you ask me…and I’m not even an engineer. :-)

    If the producers thought Houston is unhabitable, they should look at Florida which is said to be hotter, and more hurricane-prone. :-)

  • About five years late on this one but I just saw this on the Mega Engineering show and have to say this is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard – I’m from New Orleans and lived through Katrina – I also lived in Houston for over 10 years experiencing the heat, humidity, and multiple hurricanes. I can say with great confidence that the people in Houston are not endangered – if they were really concerned about the welfare of people they would push to build a geodesic dome over New Orleans or Galveston – not Houston. Hurricanes? Heat? Flooding? and they pick Houston??? Sounds like certain interests trying to make money in the only city on the Gulf Coast that could afford such a dome. I can’t believe they start the argument with the hurricane of 1900 killing 8,000 people – the only reason 8,000 people died was because most had no idea if and when the storm would come – the large majority of casualties were in Galveston not Houston – that kind of death toll would never happen today. Whoever is pushing for this dome should be ashamed of themselves – don’t fall for it Houston.