How to Implement the IPCC Program

Last weekend, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a new report.  According to the IPCC, the total cumulative future human production of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels must be limited to no more than one trillion tons, or the Earth will be ruined.

“With this latest report, science has spoken yet again and with much more clarity. Time is not on our side,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. “Leaders must act.”

If the IPCC is correct, the situation is indeed dire. Humanity today produces about 33 billion tons per year of CO2 from fossil fuel use. So, at our current rates, held level, we have 30 years of fossil fuel utilization left to us. But if ongoing modest global economic growth is factored in, our current fossil-fuel powered civilization has only twenty years left during which it can be allowed to exist. That’s it. After 2034, no one anywhere can be allowed to use any fossil fuel: No coal, no oil, no natural gas, nothing.

This program could be difficult to implement. Eliminating fossil fuels will send the world economy back to its productivity circa 1700, when it could only support about 700 million people, barely one-tenth of the current number. So ninety percent of humanity will need to be eliminated. That might be unpleasant. But science has spoken, and the imperative for decisive action has been placed before us by Ban Ki Moon himself, which is to say, right from the top.

So the question is: how can we get the job done?

One way that readily suggests itself is nuclear war. We have enough nuclear weapons to wipe out humanity several times over, or so we have been told for decades. Why not finally put our long dormant arsenal to work, and use it to save the planet?

Unfortunately, this just won’t work. Contrary to all those bland assurances about our capacity for global overkill, we never had any such capability, and the situation now is even worse. In fact, as a consequence of successive disarmament moves implemented since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal has been reduced from 22,000 warheads in 1989 to just 4,766 today. If we optimistically assume that each one of these could be made to account for 100,000 people (roughly the take at Hiroshima), then at best we might expect to bag some 477 million, a small fraction of the 6.5 billion we need to get.

But the situation is even more hopeless if we look at the problem as one of targeting territory, rather than people as such. Thus, if each bomb, very optimistically, could be assumed to wipe out 100 square miles, with no waste of firepower through overlap, then, using our total arsenal, we could only eliminate people from some 477,000 square miles of territory, less than one percent of the land surface of the Earth! Nor can fallout be relied upon to help much, as the liveliest radionuclides perforce have very short half-lives and the weather might easily take much of them away from land before they could have significant effect.

The sad fact of the matter is that we don’t even have enough nukes to wipe out ourselves, let alone ninety percent of humanity. And while we might get some help from the Russians, Chinese, and others, at best they could double or triple the total yield, which would still leave us far from the necessary goal.

Of course, rather than trying to plaster territory, we could use our arsenal to wreck every major city on Earth, including all the national capitals, which would send the world into total anarchy. But that would hardly do, because without governments, who would stop people from using fossil fuels?

So we need another answer, one that shuns the quick, easy, but ultimately ineffective path of nuclear havoc. Instead, if we really want to not only exterminate ninety percent of humanity, but insure that the survivors can be kept in perpetual serfdom and technological stasis, we must seek for a more thoughtful, orderly, and systematic method.

One such approach that has received some attention is that set forth by Adolf Hitler, a German statesman who achieved some prominence in the 1930s and 1940s. According to Mr. Hitler and his associates, who were known as National Socialists, or Nazis, if a nation were properly organized and its citizens duly instructed that their sacred duty was to rid the world of other, inferior, people, then such a nation could be turned into an effective and efficient instrument for global depopulation. This was actually tried, and while the program did achieve some results on a regional level, it ultimately proved unsuccessful when several of the countries targeted for conquest became annoyed and banded together to crush the Nazis instead. In retrospect, this result was predictable, as the kind of tribal arrogance required for the implementers of such a program has a way of turning everybody else off.