Editorial note:  The following is a thought experiment on solving the problem of catastrophic climate change.  It does not imply any such intent upon real persons or real institutions be they public or private.  The sole purpose hopes to expand awareness on the potentially existential crisis of global warming.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

By Robert A. Vella

The Assumption

You are the absolute ruler of the world, the unchallengeable behind-closed-doors sovereign over all things human.  The course and fate of modern civilization rests in your hands.  You must neither be moral nor immoral, but amoral.  Your decisions must be based exclusively on emotionless objectivity.  However, your choices are constrained by one predominant priority – to serve and support the globalized socioeconomic system of free market capitalism.  All other considerations must be subordinate to it regardless of their circumstances or consequences.

The Problem

Free market capitalism is dependent upon unrestrained growth as well as the exploitation of natural and human resources.  But, a byproduct from this kind of socioeconomic system is waste – specifically, waste in the form of industrial pollution and the degradation of vital ecosystems.  What has resulted, in this world of yours, is accelerating climate change and environmental damage which – left unmitigated – will cause the collapse of the very system you are obliged to serve.  And, time is quickly running out.

Complicating this problem is your initial reluctance to admit that it exists, and your subsequent refusal to accept its severity.  Like an overly protective mother whose only son has committed some heinous offense, you are stubbornly in denial.

Still, you must perform your primary duty objectively.  Begrudgingly, you deliberate intensely on the matter.

The Analysis

Because you cannot replace capitalism, nor modify its wasteful ways, you conclude that the only viable remedy is to reset the system back to a smaller scale so that its inherent cycle of growth and exploitation can be restarted within the reasonably sustainable limits of the Earth.  In other words, you must drastically reduce the global population.

The Solutions

The most direct solution would be to simply eliminate the billions of people you deem the least desirable (e.g. the destitute poor, disruptive radicals, uncooperative demographic groups, etc.).  But, you reject this solution due to its problematic logistical issues in addition to the destabilizing resentments it would instill amongst the survivors.

You could start a nuclear war which would indiscriminately kill off billions;  although, the resulting environmental damage would likely be worse than the most catastrophic effects of global warming.  You reject this one too.

How about triggering a deadly pandemic such as the Black Death of the 14th century which cut Europe’s population by one-half?  You say “no” to that also because its toll would be even more indiscriminate than nuclear war (i.e. eliminating many “desirables”), and there would be no guarantee of cessation.

More benign methods of population control, such as China’s one-child policy (1979 to 2015), could be effective at reducing the birth rate.  However, the problem at hand here is the size of the current population, not population growth.  Furthermore, a reduction in the birth rate would negatively affect economic growth and therefore conflict with your top priority – to serve the free market system.

You contemplate famine.  You see it as a workable prospect.  Not by overt means, necessarily;  but, by subtle manipulation done in concert with the global food shortages which will occur naturally as climate change progresses.  Starvation will hit many of the “undesirables” first and hardest, be easier to control, and would provide a credible scapegoat for blame (i.e. global warming) so that your power structure remains stable.

The Plan

In order to implement the solution of famine, you must assert greater control over food production.  If the masses can grow their own food, or have access to locally grown food, this solution won’t work.  First of all, you must centralize agricultural operations much more than they already are.  The existing corporate infrastructure of agribusiness can be utilized for this purpose.  Consolidation of farms and ranches (which grow crops and raise livestock), as well as for food processing, distribution, and resale facilities, must be completed comprehensively – a task best accomplished through corporatist practices.  Secondly, control over water resources is imperative.  Without sufficient fresh water, food production would be limited outside of government supported operations.  Thirdly, the ancillary means of agriculture (e.g. access to crop seeds, agricultural equipment, labor, etc.) must also be controlled.  Lastly, and more problematically, non-commercial fishing must be discouraged by favoring centralized commercial aquaculture.  This would be done by declaring prohibitions over coastal and inland waterways and granting conditional licenses to selected commercial enterprises;  although, enforcement could prove difficult in some areas.

With these centralized controls in place, you would implement the solution of famine by gradually tightening the food supply.  Rather than an abrupt shock which would trigger mass revolt, this measured approach would compel populations to adapt their behavior.  The birth rate would drop, and lifespans would shorten due to malnutrition and disease.  If managed properly, the world population could be shrunk down to a few hundred million by the end of the century.  Modern civilization and your precious free market capitalism would be saved.  The ravages of climate change would be slowly reversed as the greenhouse gas-belching burning of fossil fuels declined with the population.  You would be a hero… in your eyes, at least.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Postscript:  This unbelievably dismal and cold-hearted thought experiment on solving the problem of catastrophic climate change should serve as a brutal warning for humankind today.  It is by no means a prediction of what will or could happen in the coming decades.  Rather, it is intended to expand current awareness of the kinds of existential crises near-future leaders might be faced with.  How they might react cannot be predicted;  and, that alone should be enough to scare any decent, caring human being.

43 thoughts on “Examining the Ultimate Solution to Climate Change

  1. Yep. Short of getting off this rock and into space in a meaningful and permanent manner, in huge numbers (billions), such steps are the only thing that will save this adventure.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A scary proposition, indeed, Robert. If humanity fully embraced the principle of the common good, capitalism would go the way of the dodo bird. I believe that the colonization of space is a far better alternative to starving off large numbers of people.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Indeed! That’s the question. All of these problems can be solved more efficiently if we adopt a federal global system of government. A single space agency will get a lot more accomplished. But that doesn’t look feasible in the near future so we may end up euthanizing the elderly and infirm and starving people to death, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

        • John, if I may join in here…

          Your points/suggestions are very valid! Agree with all of them as well as your assessments of the current situation(s). The biggest problem I see with a single global system of government and space agency are the millions of religious-political radical Fundamentalists that are indeed on the rise — over 3- or 4-million predicted by 2050 given population-growth trends and lack of (or severely lagging) birth-control and Women’s Rights around the world. :/

          How do we change that direction!? I don’t have any feasible ideas except maybe resilient, proactive, CLEVER higher education domestically and around the globe. But what a DAUNTING task, huh? 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Incredible, Robert. Absolutely crazy, but brilliant — both on the part of the amoral decision-making elites, and you for figuring it out.

    Must reblog this illuminating thought experiment as soon as I have a few minutes to spare.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brilliant post.

    We need to reactivate critical thinking in the human race. So many of us have accepted the corporate conditioning to revere Capitalism as a religion. We mindlessly accept the dogma of “free markets” and other cleverly devised manipulations of language to control behavior. This is the type of writing that can shake people by the brain and get them to use their minds instead of being used by their minds.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve tried to reblog this a number of times, all unsuccessfully. I believe it’s my ancient iPad. 😁 I get kicked offline constantly. One of these days I believe I won’t have access to the internet other than at libraries. Oh well. I’ll try again.

    Thanks, again, for an excellent post that should be read by everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Opher's World and commented:
    This addresses the two most pressing issues that are the cause of our destruction of nature – overpopulation and the capitalist lust for constant growth. A great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All your blogs are good – but this is frighteningly close to the bone. You can determine the motive by reasoning back from what is going on – back to the only people who have control. Obviously, democracy has to be neutralised as a pre-condition.
    Personally I believe, note – believe – that “they” will fail. Not in destroying the planet and the human race, but by bailing out of the catastrophe they are most responsible for causing. When this ship goes down there will be nowhere for the lifeboats to go.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: Examining the ultimate solution to climate change | Random thoughts

  9. As I read this exceptional post Robert, it felt like I was reading the script to those 2013-2016 films The Purge. Yikes! However, given the known track-record of mass hysteria-anarchy with human nature, how far off really is your logic here? 😦 Another image that ran through my mind was the original inhabitants of Easter Island (I think?), that plausibly harvested and ate their way into secluded independent caves then extinction before other later people arrived.

    Very few of the prospective alternative solutions — except one — appear civilized, much less humane. And history records repeatedly how power positions almost always manipulate education and ignorance to maintain their status quo. Though the U.S. has been falling behind in all the core education subjects/disciplines by global standards, at least there are many pockets/nations in the world that are advancing and progressing and most likely will have the Superorganism means/mentality to withstand and outlast America’s and the other parts of the world’s piranha-appetite for waste and self-implosion.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Examining the Ultimate Solution to Climate Change | The Secular Jurist | JoAnn Chateau

  11. Excellent thought experiment, Robert. I do believe that the capitalist free market elites have already experimented with each of the solutions you mention. In place of nuclear weapons, they have caused considerable human loss with carpet bombing of vast urban areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It assumes we are in control of our destiny a very debatable point since we all pull in different directions . My comfort is another’s misery , my full stomach another’s starvation, my satisfaction another’s deprivation. But come what may nature will run its course and we are not top of the priority list . There is no list just an out working of consequences and there are some big hurdles coming our way.


    • The idea that we are not in control of our destiny is debatable only on a cosmological scale since the existential question of its nature and origin remain scientifically undiscovered. Therefore, the idea is purely hypothetical and any debate on it is purely academic.

      In the known world, the one in which we live, there is no debate. We are in control of our destiny, and it is our responsibility to make informed and wise choices for both our human species and for all life on this planet. Arguments to the contrary are nihilistic, defeatist, and moronic to the nth degree.


  13. Well if that is your definition of a moron then I’m one beyond doubt, from an IQ point of view I’m slightly above average at 105. You will have to explain the nth degree to a non mathematician.
    All I see as I look at the world is a very large amount of chaos and the informed and wise choices you make so much of depend on who is making them.


    • Nth:

      1. Relating to an unspecified ordinal number: ten to the nth power.
      2. Relatively large but unspecified: tried calling for the nth time.

      I described your argument as “moronic,” not you personally. We humans are imperfect. Sometimes we make informed and wise decisions, and sometimes we do not. The choice is ours, and that is why nihilistic speculation regarding humanity’s control over its destiny have no place in real-world decision-making and should be confined to philosophical forums. This particular post is not a philosophical forum, it is a thought experiment on the scientifically verified dangers of climate change.

      What matters here is not what you subjectively see, but what you objectively know. You eyes can deceive you. So too can your biases, feelings, and perceptions. Those things are also important, but not to the exclusion of empirical awareness.


  14. I’ve got the nth degree much clearer and we agree on the great danger of climate to our civilisation. I will not interrupt your rather deep deliberations again.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.