Diabolical Brainstorm: what are ways, either real or imagined, that one could erase almost all human life on earth?
March 18, 2005 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Diabolical Brainstorm: what are ways, either real or imagined, that one could erase almost all human life on earth? Don't worry. I'm not actually planning something. I'm curious about compiling a list of ways that humanity could be wiped out. This could be a real-world threat or a science fiction-type threat.

I'll get the ball rolling:
1. a highly contagious and lethal virus is released into the population.
2. force the earth to stop spinning.
posted by quadog to Grab Bag (32 answers total)
Ask the Genie for World Peace.


[Time to chatfilter deletion minus 10, 9, 8...]
posted by Man O' Straw at 1:13 PM on March 18, 2005

No Sex as in the act of doing it.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:14 PM on March 18, 2005

How to Destroy the Earth
posted by Galvatron at 1:16 PM on March 18, 2005

To expand on thomcatspike's idea. Invent a perfect sex doll and a way of selling it to people so as to be shame-free.
posted by Capn at 1:17 PM on March 18, 2005

Release something in to the air that makes hu-man flesh delicious
posted by Capn at 1:18 PM on March 18, 2005

Giant cartoonist's hand, very large eraser.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2005

Gay Bomb

(sorry to keep posting, I keep thinking of something just after clicking "post").
posted by Capn at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2005

Prove that heaven exists, and that everyone, even suicides, get in.
posted by Capn at 1:20 PM on March 18, 2005

Post discussion threads to the green.
posted by mendel at 1:29 PM on March 18, 2005

1. Keep sex, but make it sterile.
2. Hook everyone's brain up to a giant computer, and hit Ctrl+A, Delete.
3. Human-B-Gone®, from the friendly folks at Dow. I think Wal-Mart has it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:48 PM on March 18, 2005

John Leslie's book "The End of the World" details numerous such scenarios.
posted by jeffmshaw at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2005

Ignite the atmosphere. (Supposedly this was a "real" concern before the first A-bomb test. They did the calculation, and it looked like it wouldn't happen. Then they did the experiment. Nope, didn't ignite the atmosphere.)
Big-ass solar flare, when it's nighttime in the Pacific.
Big-ass asteroid.
Virus that makes people sterile (instant death not necessary).
Destabilize the vacuum, if it's not a true minimum-energy state. This destroys the whole universe. Is that okay with you? Or do you need a few people still alive?
Blights on the world's major food crops.
posted by Aknaton at 1:52 PM on March 18, 2005

The sterile-virus is such an interesting idea. Everyone would just... live out the rest of their life. It would be a particularly uneventful doomsday sequence of events. No rush on resources and subsequent hoarding, no zombies, warring factions (assuming everyone were affected).. very depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 2:00 PM on March 18, 2005

Pretty much all of the cool end-of-the-world scenarios have been catalogged at Exit Mundi. A great read when you're bored.
posted by autojack at 2:04 PM on March 18, 2005

A. Drill a few dozen deep wells several hundred miles apart into Antarctica, Greenland, the poles, anyplace with major ice sheets.
B. Insert a nuke (2-3 megatons each) into each well.
C. Detonate simultaneously.
D. Ice melts fast.
E. Water levels rise fast.
F. Most of the world is quickly flooded, 99% of the human population is wiped out.

You should be able to accomplish the worst-case greenhouse scenario in months instead of centuries. As long as your wells are deep enough, you won't have to worry about blowing a lot particulate matter into the atmosphere which would lead to a nuclear winter (this is important because a nuclear winter might undo the melting).

I think a billionaire might be able to accomplish this, though it might take a few decades to slowly buy up (or build) a lot nukes without drawing too much attention. The drilling could be done in secret - just cover each well before you move on to the next one. The miners wouldn't have to know what they're burying.
posted by exhilaration at 2:07 PM on March 18, 2005

"It's a cookbook!"
posted by luriete at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2005

Elect as President a not-too-bright fundamentlsiast Christian who believes in the Biblical necessity of the Apocalypse happening the Middle East, and let him staff the executive branch with "neo-conservatives" who hate Arabs, support anything Israel does, and are determined to extend American hegemony around the world.

Of course, that's purely science fiction, it can't happen here.
posted by orthogonality at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2005

Of course, that's purely science fiction, it can't happen here.

Well, you know it won't happen, but you just can't resist pushing your political views (as christians can't stop pushing their views). Bush2 will leave office, and the world will stlll be around, along with right wing christians telling us the end of the world is ending, and fanatics on the other side telling us the world is ending (that's you). Many of them probably still preaching on mefi.

So little difference.
posted by justgary at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2005

Increase the oxygen content in the atmosphere. This could result in massive fires killing off a majority of the land based vegetation and cause thick enough smoke to block sunlight killing off all other vegetation, which starts a food chain collapse.

Or, inspired by a recent AskMi question: Ice-9
posted by edgeways at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2005

orthogonality, justgary.
Settle down
posted by edgeways at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2005

gray goo
posted by graventy at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2005

exitmundi.nl is a fairly comprehensive listing of various ways the world could end. Entertaining reads, mostly.
posted by philscience at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2005

This immediately brought to mind a poem written by Robert Frost in 1920:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I've always liked both of those methods; they're equally clean and thorough and independent of the schemings of mankind, more or less.
posted by RockyChrysler at 6:45 PM on March 18, 2005

You should focus on killing humans and not other animals. That's a bit more challenging. I'd recommend creating an extremely addictive drug that had no physical side effects.
posted by nixerman at 6:57 PM on March 18, 2005

Nanotech which creeps into everyone. At the programmed time, they simply kill then dispose of the bodies. Perhaps they then proceed to destroy all evidence of the human race, including themselves.

Now you know what really happened to the Atlanteans.
posted by Goofyy at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2005

I read a story once where the human male sex drive changed into homicidal frenzy. The result was that every woman on earth was murdered. The cause was aliens using the equivalent of insecticide to clear the planet for habitation.
posted by joaquim at 8:02 PM on March 18, 2005

Thanks to those who have participated positively. I've learned a few things - some funny, some rather scary. The "gay bomb" post is . . . I couldn't make that stuff up.
posted by quadog at 9:15 PM on March 18, 2005

Here's one scenario [flash].
posted by Doohickie at 9:55 PM on March 18, 2005

You should focus on killing humans and not other animals.

"That was taken out of context!" Nixerman shouted as the cops dragged him off.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:59 PM on March 18, 2005

Massive existential crisis.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:09 PM on March 18, 2005

Did you guys see the news story earlier this week about the "Blackhole like" properties that were created in a Supercollider , I can see a science mistake like this consuming the whole world.

But then there is so much I don't know about astropsychics, I wish I would have read that book by that wheelchair guy.
posted by CCK at 10:38 AM on March 19, 2005

Personally, I like the idea of destroying some critical, but overlooked, part of the eco system. Perhaps some virus that wiped out a critical insect species, like ants. Or a toxin, bacteria, or virus that killed kelp or something like that. If you can wipe out an entire species on the bottom of the food chain, it would screw up a lot in a few seasons.
posted by lockle at 12:22 AM on March 23, 2005

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