What if somewhere in the year 2050 the world is polluted to such an extent that our planet will be dead within the next few years if humanity continues to exist, and the UN/World Government/Totalitarian Dictatorship of the World decide that Humanity should stop existing?

What would be the most effective way of doing so, assuming that 90% of all governmental officials and scientists agree while 10-20% of the common folk agree to it?

A virus? Forcing everybody to commit suicide? Mass executions? Making the army randomly kill civilians before killing themselves?

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    $\begingroup$ The day you propose such a thing I'd gather a few thousand people (call it a sect) and go into hiding. Let the rest of the world's population kill itself, wait some time and emerge from your "mine shafts" to claim the world! $\endgroup$
    – Ghanima
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ Hm. So we need to stop existing, for the sake of the planet... ? Well. One might ask: What would be the point? $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Burki so the future generations can see a contamination-free planet, of course! Oh... wait... $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of people think AI will take over in about 50 years. If that happens, we'll probably all get killed anyway (or at least not be human anymore). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Voluntary... "You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means." $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:19

5 Answers 5


There's no reason to take an active role. If the Earth is going to become unfit for human life in a few years, just wait a few years and all humans will die. The sudden absence of the human species isn't going to spontaneously repair the Earth. Let the Earth take care of the problem and sort itself out afterward.

I assure you, the Earth will be around a lot longer than we are, assuming someone/thing doesn't obliterate it first. There are a lot of aliens out there who intend us harm, after all.$^{citation needed}$

  • $\begingroup$ That shurely is a good answer and I think that this would be the case but, in the question the UN decided yet that the humans should quit now. they wouldn't want to wait. To wait would just make the damage done to the earth higher than quiting now and furthermore it's boring to just wait till we die. ;) But anyway a great answer! $\endgroup$
    – if-trubite
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 13:35

Mass Sterilisations

The most probable and humane way would be a mass sterilization programme. This would take more than a few years to see the effect, but it would come into force fairly quickly and in 20, 30 years you'd start to see a significant reduction in world population.

With some clever propaganda and incentives, you could probably persuade a lot of people to undergo sterilization. Births are highly regulated in most countries and sterilising babies with or without their parents knowledge would not be very difficult.

This way takes more time, but you don't have the problem of suddenly loosing many productive members of society and piles of dead and diseased bodies all over the place.

In developed countries, the birthrate is already petering off, and most have an aging population. A lot of people are already choosing to have less children, or no children. This policy would just help and extend an accepted process.

Also, if the world government was a democratically run one, it would probably have the least resistance among the voting member states as it would not have the horrors attached to it as death by any other means.

  • $\begingroup$ Riche poeple will find a way around it, as having a non sterilized baby will be the ultimate luxury. $\endgroup$
    – Paolo
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 10:55

xkcd 962

Tell insurance companies not to care about it, and your good.

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    $\begingroup$ Please do not copy & paste material from XKCD (or any other site) as your answer and, if you do use material from another website, please be sure to properly attribute the material, as noted in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 5:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I provided a link. Also, I didn't copy it, I used the hotlinking url xkcd provided for such purposes. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 10:40

You will run into one very severe problem, many (maybe even most) people will not voluntarily do anything to end their lives or their loved one's. The survival instinct in Humans is very strong, and people will do literally anything it takes to live, no matter how harsh the conditions or seemingly hopeless the condition (the last words on many airline cockpit recorders is "Oh S***" as the pilot sees the ground rush up. He goes to his end still doing everything possible to keep the airplane in flight).

So the idea that people will "voluntarily" go extinct is a very long shot. A totalitarian government may attempt to force the issue with poison or some sort of biological attack, but even then, guess who will have the antidote or vaccinations needed to survive?


I think a better approach would be to lessen the human population over time. Sure, this would take years, but if humanity existed in the thousands then it may still be okay for the planet. Only certain people are allowed to breed now (people with stronger immune systems, etc.)

Animals aren't meant to exist in billions, like we do. We defy the laws of Natural Selection everyday with our medicine and healthcare; it's never ending. You would have to make sure inbreeding doesn't occur with the humans that are left.

Here you can create a 'meta-population'. This is where you have a main/source population, and smaller/sink populations connected via bridges (not actual bridges, but you can do that if you want. Let your imagination run wild). Here your human populations can meet up routinely and breed to bring in new genes into the population. It tends to work with habitat management. Here's a paper on meta-populations http://noss.cos.ucf.edu/papers/Hanski%201998.pdf

But the people in your world only have a few years. Mass extinction seems to be the only solution. Many wildlife officials do routine culling when a species is overpopulated, despite the outcry of animal rights groups.

Maybe you could have the government do routine culling of the people. This is such a twisted idea, but I'm guessing your government are very corrupt in your dystopia. So much that they have little regard for human life. But if it's for the good of the planet (and species) go for it. It's just fiction after all.


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