• ESG stands for Environmental, social and corporate governance. Simply trying to evaluate what kind of radical "E" solutions are possible if "S" and "G" were removed from the utility function (i.e. were not limiting factors to finding a solution).

In a earth world: global temperatures have been rising. More global coalitions have been formed to theorize and plan a policy response, but have mostly resulted in lip-service. Commercial operations have not changed much either. Smaller groups often offset eco-friendly moves by more prominent names, where corporate governance is under the microscope: conglomerate A divests from its heavy industry project, to have the same project picked up by SME Z and utilized for the whole remaining lifetime of the asset. Thus was the status quo and kindling for the events to come.

Temperatures increased dramatically, natural disasters, policy impotence, and civil unrest followed. Within a few years, matters worsened exponentially. Then a radical new world leadership, a coalition of military forces from several western countries, emerged. The general public hates them, and the feeling's mutual.

The junta's goal: preserve themselves, by virtue of stabilizing global warming. Their means: anything and everything.

This is where my imagination needs some jostling: if nothing is off-limits, what is the most effective way to restore the global temperature trend to, say, pre-industrial revolution years? Kill off large amounts of car-driving people? Which people, why? Detonate nukes to induce a nuclear winter? How big a nuke? Where?


If social and governance concerns were null and void, nothing is off-limits, under existing/known technologies, what would be the most expedient path forward to arrest the trend in global warming?

Quality metrics:

  1. Certainty. Locking in a given cool down effect via xx technology that endangers civilians is preferable to, say, soft guidance on recycling.
  2. Expediency The sooner global temperatures return to pre-industrial revolution the better.


  • Long-term habitability. While civilians are totally expendable. The small group of world military leaders needs to survive. Therefore measures to offset global warming cannot undermine habitability in the long run. However, the world government is content with bunkering up somewhere safe for a few years if surface conditions are too lethal.
  • Spare no expense. The decision-makers and implementation team have a monopoly on resources -- which are immense.

Optional supplements

heat map of global temperatures


One of my favorite quotes from a great book:

History does not provide us with thousands of separate and randomly distributed planet earths and capital markets; the resemblance to truth is not the same as truth.

Along this line of reasoning:

To satisfy the most discerning of scientists, we would need an identical planet Earth without people to gauge human's impact on global temperatures. Duplicate several thousand times to form a bell curve. Or as Taleb famously alluded to, the fact as we are all free-willed humans, we may not have a normal distribution where we have social science at play, but rather something else (T, power). This speaks to, scientifically, how challenging it is to map out humans' role on global warming.

For the time being, most seem to be willing to entertain the notion that humans can make an impact, and to err on the side of safety, attempt to dial back global warming triggers (commercial or otherwise).

I'm hoping that for this question, humans can come up with something so spectacular (be it good or evil) that humans' impact on global temperatures is no longer lost in the statistical weeds.

  • $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. Company A and Company Z were just hypotheticals to make a point. Can ignore if it confuses. I'm just using ESG in the normal sense. Simply trying to evaluate what kind of radical "E" solutions are possible if "S" and "G" were removed from the utility function (i.e. were not limiting factors to finding a solution). $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2021 at 5:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ahh, excelent link, it all comes clear, thanks. $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2021 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ "Arrest global warming trend via any means" I keep seeing this title in the list & thinking it's an idea for suppressing climate change protesters with paramilitary police units :) $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 22, 2021 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ The solutions currently making the rounds in public discourse is pretty much the best solutions we know of from an Environmental perspective. The main issue with them is figuring out the Social and corporate Governance problems. If you have no limits on those things, that would only allow you to go to the extremes (e.g. instead of cutting down on meat, gas, etc., just ban them entirely). Of course if you're happy to kill off 99.999% of the population, or if you're happy to risk messing up the environment further, that may allow for a few more solutions. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 22, 2021 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ VTO: q has clearly defined goal(one), and clearly defined border conditions, and answer evaluation metric - nothing wrong with the q. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 21:01

15 Answers 15



There is a field dedicated to finding such solutions (which are also present in some other answers). It has fallen into disgrace for its high risks, but has also given lots of ideas of crazy projects for you to exploit.

Mitigating sunlight techniques:

  • aerosols in the athmosphere (the "nuclear winter" idea but without radiations)
  • white plastic ice caps (reflects more sun light, like painting your house white but on a planet scale)
  • mirrors in space (giant ones or lots of small ones)
  • create a lot more marine clouds

Greenhouse gases capture techniques:

  • dump iron in the ocean to boost plancton
  • industrial carbon dioxide capture
  • massive reforestation (but forests have a lower albedo than deserts).

I'm hoping that for this question, humans can come up with something so spectacular (be it good or evil) that humans' impact on global temperatures is no longer lost in the statistical weeds.

Then go with the white plastic. Not just on the ice caps, you can add plastic icebergs everywhere in all oceans. It is the most likely solution to have very long term impacts. Space mirrors don't last, and the rest has to be maintained by humans.

It also depends on the direction in which you want to go. If they want to "preserve themselves" as world leaders, these projects look like a viable political move, at least for a while. If they want to preserve themselves as in live in a bunker while everyone dies, they can do that without being world leaders.

  • $\begingroup$ solar mirrors can last, if you do things properly, otherwise a good answer because of options $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg My take is that solar mirrors, either at the L1 point or in orbit, would quickly turn into a mess of space garbage once they run out of fuel. But I am not really sure, so you may be right $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Sep 22, 2021 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ yes, it is not an incorrect way to think about it this way in some cases - dumb foil shreds or separate crafts which are limited by fuel for station keeping - yeah those won't work. it requires a bit more effort for the idea to work. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ Sid Meyer's Alpha Centauri solved it for us - "launch solar shade: sea level drops". $\endgroup$
    – alamar
    Sep 22, 2021 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with geo-engineering projects in the real world is that most of those ideas are based on purely theoretical ideas about systems we poorly understand, that they are often far more expensive and resource-intense than de-carbonizing our industry and that they would require a level of global cooperation which is just wishful thinking in our political landscape. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Sep 24, 2021 at 12:42

So if said Junta was not beholden to the corporate interests and had a relatively free hand to intervene in the market, even radically reshape society, here are some things that could be done to reduce emissions that don't require any new technology

1- Every job that can be done remotely, is Each car taken off the road saves 4.8 tons of CO2 per year. With COVID, a full 41.8% of the American workforce (approx 67 million) is already working remotely. If we applied that figure to the global workforce (approx, 2 billion) and made that permanent, we get 1.16 billion remote workers no longer commuting in cars

Savings: 5,568 megatons of CO2 / year.

2- Robust public transportation for the jobs that cant be done remotely

1 full bus can take 40 cars off the road, so of the remaining 95.8 million non-remote jobs, if even half of could be compelled to take public transportation instead, this would take another 47.8 million cars off the road, saving an additional 230 megatons of CO2 per year. Compulsion in this case really wouldn't be that hard -- just increase the licensing cost for a private vehicle beyond the means of the average worker and redesign your cities such that the most vital areas can't be accessed by POVs. Applied globally, that would be 420,000,000 workers taking public transport

Savings: 2,016 megatons of CO2 / year.

Wind Down the Cattle Factory Farming Economy

Once lab-grown meat becomes commercially viable, subsidize its mass adoption and outlaw large scale industrial cattle farming. This would reduce methane (which is 28x more powerful than CO2 as a green-house gas). 20% of the warming since the industrial revolution is due to the doubling of methane gas in the atmosphere. It would also and free up a whopping 41.4% of all land in America (788 million acres) from having to support cattle grazing. No joke, this is going to take heavy intervention by the military Junta. Almost 75% of a cow's bodyweight is usable meat. Cattle farming is big money.

There are 1.4 billion cattle in the world, contributing 40% of global methane emissions - the equivalent of 7,100 Megatons of CO2 / per year or 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. Approx 2/3rd of which (924 million) are beef cows. The good news is that Methane breaks down naturally after 10 years in the atmosphere. Were this population of beef cows replaced by lab-grown meat, it would mean


  • 167 Megatons of methane /year
  • (equivalent) 4,686 Megatons of CO2 /year

And now, the big one requiring the most military intervention

4 - forcefully retire / destroy all or most carbon-based energy production

84% of the world's energy comes from burning fossil fuels, adding about 34,600 Megatons of CO2 /year. The breakdown looks like this

  • Oil: 33% (12,400 Megatons CO2)
  • Natural gas: 27% (7,500 Megatons CO2)
  • Coal: 27% (14,700 Megatons CO2)
  • Hydro-electric: 6%
  • Nuclear: 4%
  • Renewables: 5%

This will be the hardest because unless the vast majority of power is supplied by something else it will drag humanity back into the pre-digital age, causing serious disruptions to our entire society and economy. Nuclear is and remains high and above the clear winner in terms of efficiency and emission (0) - so for countries that have the technology this is probably the best solution and will all but solve the problem entirely. A single reactor can supply about 1 gigawatt of electricity, so to supply 84% of global demand (23.4 terawatt-hours) would require 23,000 new reactors to be commissioned. These huge reactors are old designs though, and there are newer, smaller, less risky ones in research now. One micro-reactor can now supply ~50 megawatts. I won't call that new technology because its already here just not widely used.

It's just a matter of building enough of them, and suppressing the economic / political consequences of forcefully imposing it. A country may be opposed to it but if their oil rigs are literally bombed and they are told "Either build enough renewable energy production to fuel your economy OR you can connect your smart grid to this subsea cable. The other end is connected to our reactor's switch-yard. We will provide all your power now." what choice would they have? It would force countries to stop being hypocritical, paying lip service and continuing to rely indefinitely on problematic energy.

Savings: 34,600 megatons of CO2 /year

So, all up our total savings:

  • Remote work: 5,568 Mt CO2/yr
  • Public transportation: 2,016 Mt CO2/yr
  • Lab grown meat: 160 Mt methane equiv of 4,686 Mt CO2 /year
  • Replace 85% of worlds power with nuclear: 34,600 Mt CO2 /year
  • Grand Total: 46,870 Megatons (and equiv) less CO2/year

2020 anthropogenic CO2 emissions were 34,070 Megatons so this would actually put us in carbon negative territory (-12,800 megatons / year).

** edits to put all figures in Megatons for readability **

** note: savings on transportation are based on US commuter profile only, which is clearly one of the most egregious CO2 emitters in the world. Actual global figures will vary **

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Sep 23, 2021 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Remember that area freed from cattle farming (that is one of the most natural of human made environments, supporting sizable biodiversity) will be replaced by industrial farming that is much worse as the plant life is controlled and animals much restricted. There is gain in stopping industrial cattle farms where animals are kept in buildings, but IMHO free field cattle herding is beneficial to the environment, at least compared to alternative. $\endgroup$
    – Archelaos
    Sep 23, 2021 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Archelaos "The alternative" isn't 100% industrial farming - it's more like 2.5% industrial farming. Beef production takes ~120 m^2 to produce 100 kcal of beef, whereas farming various plants takes between .7 to 3 m^2 to produce 100 kcal of produce. You could maintain the same number of calories produced by converting less than 3% of cattle pasture to crops and dedicate the other 97% to something else--maybe tree farming, maybe lightly managed wilderness, or anything else. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2021 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ Editing Gigatons into long-form Megatons would help a bit with readability, I understand significant figures are useful though $\endgroup$
    – Cireo
    Sep 23, 2021 at 23:11

Interesting q, there are few but not sure are they expedient enough for you.

First of all, a thing which surprised me, it napkin calculations but, still. A 1km2 land with grass or a forest can produce about 200t of dry plant matter per season. And if I'm not wrong with my calculations but if we take about 10'000'000 tons per day of oil extraction and about 25'000'000 tons per day of coal extraction, then 38% of land covered with grass should be capable to bind all carbon produced by us. Sure our activity is not the only source of carbon, decomposing of plant matter by animals, fishes, insects, and bacteria is one of those as well. So surprising, but killing all drivers, or putting them ballistic electric may not necessarily have such huge expected consequences, so for humanity, I hope this small calculus/observation helps put down some of your fire and save some humans from extermination.

Nuclear winter is also a good solid plan, which allows solving the problem of extinguishing all remaining resistance. It(and volcanic activity) lays at the core of proposals of dispersing aerosols in the atmosphere. This approach has its problems - not permanent, hard to control, helps almost as much as not helps(plants get less light and thus bind less CO2), or in case of nuke winter, attention on the word winter, there is no plants, and once you get out of winter plants are dead and the situation is worse than before.

Comrades, we move into a bright future, all humans unite

From experience, your new global order has to have not only a big stick but also a big carrot. Stick has to be real, but carrot can be imaginary.

Or I better reword.

You may need a big signature project, which brings clear/understandable benefits, in the future, and allows you to justify current actions. Such a move was used for ages, by all kinds of groups. It is not good or bad it is how it works, and will it be good or bad depends on people involved, on goals chosen, and by the - do they succeed or not.

Signature project

Sun umbrella can be such a signature project.

What it is? At a bare minimum, it is a patch of non-transparent objects in earth-sun L1 points (Lagrange point) with a total area of 2.5kk km2 (2.5 million square km's) which is blocking about 2% of energy delivered from the sun to earth.

The bare minimum is not such a great way to do so, and it helps us to set a grander goal, but reasons it not that great should be mentioned

  • +offsets the warming once installed
  • -not enough control to make things better in the future
  • -not enough sweet benefits for all, besides it works - no fun, bad review

A grander and better solution would be to have a bigger umbrella. And as side products and benefits to become K1 civilization, space living civilization, spacefaring civilization. This can be indications for great management of the new order and its glory, justify some sacrifices on the way, proving the might of technological civilization and humanity.

And as a practical achievement it is the ability to not only mitigate warming effects once installed, but control weather in general, and increase the productivity of plants, meaning there are plenty of fun things it can be used for (including extinguishing the last bits of resistance)

Potential for hideous things to do on the way, to make it more expedient, mm not sure about it - making all Intellectual Properties a Public Domain or MIT, or CC-BY or one of your choice which you think fits the bill the most.


I would say two 5-year plans should be enough. One for planning testing designing, one for implementing.

Effects start immediately once implementation begins. Some aspects are presented here How fast could we build a Dyson Swarm? Full Dyson swarm is not required, K1 level is enough.

A useful installation it can be - this one as an example A big primitive computer in orbit, very big, powerfull but old technologies from 80's, what is a potential fiat money value for its use? except it does not have to be primitive and can deliver 4-5 orders of magnitude more calculations, ai training, generative design and other things which can be useful for technologies development.

So such a step can not only solve GW but also have a good push for our technologies. And other useful installations in space, so as inhabiting space itself.

So, all in all, 5 years to start, 5 years to finish - 10y total and GW is no more and the planet feels better than ever.

ESG notes

in general, the problem is not necessarily in that we limit our solution field by S or G or both, or entertaining an illusion that a solution is possible on the safe side of things.

Things are unfortunately worse than that, not excluding the T,power pesky thing, or social crusades for benefit of a few, as usual. There are objective things as well. Corona is one of the examples of how shaky is our current technological fundament, the system of connections, and such. The current most significant factor keeping nations in check is not MAD, but that any global war conflict will be like hands full of sand thrown into the clockwork. Because it was(and still is) not an event that really endangers people, but increases the chance of deaths for a minority of people. (I do not underplay potential danger it can evolve into, or harm it does, do vaccination, but compared to some other potential disruptions, which we can do, it is insignificant, and we really dodged a bullet this time, how many more time we will be so lucky.)

The notion of absence of common good which is a mindset in capitalist societies, along with the typical incompetence of governance leaders(senators, parliament members, deputies, whatever - it is all the same over the globe - not saying there aren't smart people or that there aren't good ones - it just selection factors at play - sweet-talking which creates a disproportion.)

So, distracted, that notion of the absence of common good does not allow us to formulate goals that can be effective, within our capacities, and it settles on local solutions which can get local support (be those effective or harmful, does not matter, 90% are not capable to see those negative consequences, for plenty of reasons, iq is not on top of the list of the reasons)

Capitalism is the reason for the problem, so as the reason for it being incapable to solve it until some cost-effective technology is invented. what happens first, is it invented or technology chains disrupted and rip the possibility of such technology to be invented - your guess is as good as mine. Capitalism by itself is that super idea that is in place of some different pan/super idea which could make a solution possible. Communism was such an idea, but it can be anything, sure not just random things, but it can be absurd like build the kingdom of God on earth - as an orienteer, as direction, it less important how practical it is, or how close we are for its realization or how possible it is at all. its important part is how, in which way, it defines the mindset of the human swarm, affects agents of that swarm, in a sense of swarm logic. it was less important a century ago, but today the amount of information required to understand our civilization or its aspects like technologies as an example - that amount is so immense, that it does not matter how smart one is there are no chances to see the full picture of connections of cause and effect. Honestly not such a new problem, it just that back in the days they had a sliver of hope, thus all those philosophers since 2k years, but now is just easy to see - no, there is no hope for that at all and it won't be any better in the future. Further specialization and expert takes, judgment and conclusions will become detrimental for our survival, and it needs to have a situation that has fewer pitfalls for them to sell our survival for short personal benefits.

Global warming is not necessarily a big deal, (as mentioned 10y - done), it still can be solved in that capitalist's survival of the fittest way, but what about some next problem we will have?

A good pan idea is what we may need. A good in some special way, as for God Emperor may be a good one - one which includes the notion of the existence of common good, common necessity(but please, not in the way dem-party does, even commies were better). There aren't that many things we universally can agree upon, but there are some - life is good and good life is even better is one of those.

And because of that, I think that Space can become a basis for such greater idea - it offers resources and solutions for that life and better life, needs just to avoid it to become a second wild west, and some factors are helpful in that - plenty of resources, easy to destroy things - a good basis for negotiations and developing universal approaches of sharing resources in a way beneficial for most ppl.


Frame challenge

I dont actually know if you can. The problem with this wish, is that youre trying to stabilise a situation that may have been pushed into a mode where it has its own feedback cycles.

In other words,you could do whatever you like within modern technological capability, and sure you can reduce heat trapped on the planet (increase reflectance/decrease greenhouse gases). But if you do all that, i dont actually know if you can arrest the situation, because of the number and immensity of things that may have already been set in motion.

  • Methane and other gases trapped in melting ice/slush, or in the oceans/ocean beds, now disturbed. Very potent greenhouse gases, if these have started to become liberated, they would overwhelm any attempt to reduce CO2 and similar, and effectively with current tech, unstoppable if so.
  • Giant ice masses at the poles. Again, if those are doomed now, we wouldnt have technology to stabilise or arrest them, i don't think. Because the issue would already exist beneath them.
  • $\begingroup$ Given humans have accidentally caused it as a side effect, we certainly would be able to and could afford to reverse it (there are just as many feedback loops that go in the opposite direction of cooling after all). It is just a case of a Tragedy of the Commons - virtually everyone wants anyone else to pay to fix it, not them, as they have other more immediate concerns. $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2021 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ That doesn't follow at all,sorry. Thats total non-logic/faulty logic. Thats a bit like saying, if a 1000 ton steel bar is balanced right on a mountaintop,and I lean on one end and it starts sliding down, because I could start it with one person's strength I would "certainly be able to" stop it with one human's strength. That's so incorrect that its hard to know where to start explaining, if it isn't obvious to someone. To be clear, we are very much able to start processes easily, that all of humanity's technology and prowess, united together, could not stop or even slow down much (cont.) $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Sep 22, 2021 at 10:36
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    $\begingroup$ Put another way, the fact that you can easily trigger a change does not mean its feasible to reverse it, or prevent the cascade of events you've triggered from unfolding. Climate change may be one of those, for reasons in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Sep 22, 2021 at 10:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Except that history shows us the climate is more like a seesaw - relatively small perturbations can turn it into a hothouse or a snowball, and the fact it hasn't permanently stuck at either end shows that are feedback loops that can be used to push it either way. If the Earth's climate was like a 1000 ton steel bar balanced on a mountaintop humanity would never have existed to have this discussion. $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2021 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ @StuartSmith "more like a seesaw" - yeah, but do you remember how long it takes? will we be there to care?, lol, I mean as humanity. I do not agree we can't do anything in this situation, with all our technological means, but also Stilez correctly points out that means to start an avalanche and stop it are not the same. is the gw initial phase(as I do agree with you, that at least, in the long run, it will settle back) - what is stronger negative or positive feedbacks and how deep is the buffer capacities - that's a question we do not know a good answer to, thus ops demand make it great. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:18

Iron fertilization of the oceans.


Martin's 1988 quip four months later at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, "Give me a half a tanker of iron and I will give you an ice age," drove a decade of research.

Iron is the limiting nutrient in open water and by adding it one can provoke plankton blooms. Then the biomass (and carbon it has pulled out of the air) eventually falls to the bottom of the sea. Many experiments have been done, both experimental and observational. It works. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/iron-dumping-ocean-experiment-sparks-controversy/ One can sequester carbon in this manner without having to make people wear silly hats or eat tofu.

But at the cost of much anguished wringing of hands! How can we combat global warming without suffering for our sins and forgoing wrong headed behavior? Windmills! The evil of coal! Bicycles and trees! Condoms! And who will wear all these hats we had made?

The junta bypasses that. Handwringers are left to wring hands. The junta fertilizes the ocean with iron. Plankton blooms. CO2 plummets. As a nice byproduct, fisheries everywhere spring back to life. Easy peasy.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Liked that UN part, made me laugh))) $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ It's an interesting idea. However, the scientificamerican link doesn't actually support the claim that it works. It actually highlights the instances where this technique failed to produce the expected results (and briefly discuss potentially hazardous effects of this techniques). $\endgroup$
    – Deruijter
    Sep 23, 2021 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ From Wikipedia: "The maximum possible result from iron fertilization, assuming the most favourable conditions and disregarding practical considerations, is 0.29 W/m2 of globally averaged negative forcing, offsetting 1/6 of current levels of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions. These benefits have been called into question by research suggesting that fertilization with iron may deplete other essential nutrients in the seawater causing reduced phytoplankton growth elsewhere — in other words, that iron concentrations limit growth more locally than they do on a global scale." $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Sep 23, 2021 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I know that geoengineering looks like the easy way out of the climate crisis, but unfortunately it's not. The reason why the scientific and political community doesn't seriously advocates for geoengineering is not because they are all leftists who would rather want to see people become vegan and "wear funny hats" instead of solving the problem, but rather because they did the numbers and found out that all those geoengineering ideas are not worth it. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Sep 23, 2021 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ Also dont forget that plankton blooms can often deplete oxygen and sunlight, and release toxins, to an extent that can sometimes cause an ecological catastrophe. I cant say if this situation is somehow immune, but its worth being aware of downsides too. $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Sep 24, 2021 at 7:09

The global climate change is an energy problem not so much an CO2 problem. My personal favourite choice is to build a factory on the moon that produces solar panels. Install those panels at Lagrange point 1. (Between the earth and the sun.) Then use those solar panels to provide cheap electricity to the masses. But any electricity source not from fossil fuels is an option.

If you want to speed the carbon capture up some, then you should ramp up plastic production. Those plastics don't break down in the environment resulting in a bunch of coal/oil/gas deposits in a million years or so.

If the climate change has gotten already in a positive feed-back spiral then you may be able to arrest that by spreading Sulphur particles in the upper atmosphere. This is also known as Stratospheric aerosol injection. But coral reefs would dissolve when using this.


Building on @L.Dutch answer (which I upvoted):

You have two problems to solve:

  • Short term you need to avoid triggering nefarious climate changes potentially leading to "Venusian" climate.
  • Long term you need to stabilize population to avoid cyclically reinsurgence of the problem.

For the second there's only a very high degree of social security which makes the cost of a child very high and the value of a family negligence. This means total population should be well under a billion, probably around half a billion (much less than that and you would get problems keeping a "modern" society running).

Fastest way to achieve a rapid decrease of population (forget about war and pestilence, they never worked in medium/long term) is to disrupt commerce and transports. Start bombing all oil sources and sink (or kidnap) all supertanks. Stay away from large cities for a few months until things settle down.

Then your concern is to preserve as much wildlife and biodiversity as possible. This means to start well planned (and better defended) agricultural units in concentrated spaces leaving large areas to wilderness and strugglers which, in absence of commerce and communication are bound to be reabsorbed in a reasonable time frame.

A larger and more difficult problem is to stabilize climate and ecosystem. Here you have several, possibly conflicting, needs; listing in roughly importance order:

  • Stop further increase of temperature.
  • Prevent "transitory effects" where stragglers destroy what's left of wildlife before succumbing.
  • Provide shelter and subsistence for "military caste" and all who transition to "new world". -. Provide clean energy to power renaissance. -. Plan a universal "security welfare" good enough to prevent return to "family insurance" leading to baby-boom. -. Stabilize situation.
  • Maintain a certain degree of control to prevent return to "status quo ante" while allowing for society evolution.

Here much depends on the actual amount of technology and resources your "Junta" can muster.

One (high expense) solution could be to deploy a large solar sail near L1 (actually more sunward to balance sun-wind pressure) producing a partial eclipse and also providing energy. There are many possibilities, as an example: Have the sail to concentrate light to some mirrors sending light to earthbound receivers/generators; they could be used as weapons ICAI Ed to "unprotected" areas.

Using nukes to trigger eruption of several currently quiescent super-volcanoes could trigger a nuclear winter at a fraction of the radiation (less controllable than solar sail, but...).

Real problem of all these schemes is they are inherently unstable. It is the same problem as dictatorship: usually all "indigenous" (i.e.: not imposed by a foreign country) rise to solve a real problem and, in the short term actually succeed. Problem is absence of "counterweights" makes it impossible to correct even small deviation leading to disaster un the medium term. Please evaluate some scheme to reduce the absolute power of your Junta soon after main aim has been reached.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ same problem as with other answers of this category, if solving gw worth life of 7 billion people(Africa do not care about oil tankers, a bicycle is best to transport means there, still - I mean their African dream still is a bicycle and a hut made out of cow shit - so you have to nuke them or else they won't die on their own) - so if the price is 7 billion lives, why not to wait and see if gw is soo bad - en? $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg: questioni was what to do under certain condition, not if it's a really good idea or if I personally would vote for it... this, of course, forgetting that in the condition given alternative to lose 7 billion people might well be to lose 8 billion people plus the whole ecosphere. Let's hope ve won't get to that point, but advocating for bicycle use as "solution" is a good way to get there !fast. $\endgroup$
    – ZioByte
    Sep 22, 2021 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ yes, and that condition was freedom of choices and resources. I have to admit, I was so disappointed how that freedom was used, so didn't read a little bit further where you mention alternatives. op does not ask for dystopia, but for effective solution, and getting back to stone age is not that fast btw - I mean we can get to stone age fast, but it not necessarily be a solution at all - take look at Stilez's answer and comment section there. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I am unsure if I really understand you. Stiles postulates we already reached tipping point, I don't know if we are really there but I suspect he is right. If that's the case billions will die; our only choice may be how they die and if someone will be left. Stone age is not an alternative: we already wasted the resources permitting them to live. IMHO the only chance is to reduce population so social security can be high enough to stabilize it. I sincerely hope we won't get to that point, but I fear this may be wishful thinking. All "smart solutions" proposed won't work. $\endgroup$
    – ZioByte
    Sep 22, 2021 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ As long as we keep our numbers and technological infrastructure, we have a chance to think of a solution real one and be able to implement it. If we abandon stuff and people - we lose that chance(which is a certain thing in my opinion, not just a chance). If things spiraling, all our money already on that bet - finding a technological solution, because reducing heads count won't fix a thing, and if situation is not spiraling then imagine to apply that cutting people solution for nothing. It much simplier than trolley problem, should be no problem to see that. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 22:07

As these other answers have given far more comprehensive answers, I will give a more simplified, succinct one.

While individual action does affect climate change, the primary changes need to be made from the top, by governments and by large companies. These solutions need to be done with tact and consideration for all side effects.

Things like fossil fuel subsidies seem like a no-brainer to remove, but because they lower gas prices, they also lower the cost of products, and thus, cost to the consumer.

As many others will be pointing out large polluters, like home heating, transport, food production, etc, I'll just point out that every industry has things that need improving. The creation of roads for example has a really big effect on the climate in comparison to the cars driving on them.

A video on youtube from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell : Can YOU Fix Climate Change?

This video from Kurzgesagt I think gives some good big-picture stuff, like I've described. I hope that I've contributed somewhat to your question.

  • $\begingroup$ the video actually isn't that bad, not the greatest but before their opinions part it is surprisingly reasonable good, so yeah good recommendation, nice find. if the q was inspired by that same video then it coincidence to be a close match. Good find, Current. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 23, 2021 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I wasn't sure if I made that clear enough, yes, I was referencing the video in my comments. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2021 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ no, I didn't mean your answer is inspired by that video, it was clear, I meant, or think, that the question, this one which op has is inspired by that video - time is more or less the same and I also think that last part of the video, solutions, isn't that strong, definitely weaker than the rest of the video. Solutions they say are not necessarily weak or bad, but not so satisfying, even if it has its good part - industry and not the straws. For that reason, I would not be surprised op asks wb for something more satisfying. unfortunately wb pretty much failed, lol $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 23, 2021 at 17:54

If you really want to achieve long term sustainability, you need to reduce human population. At the current level of about 8 billion people on the planet we are simply too many for it to sustain us.

How do you achieve population reduction?

One way is to reduce reproduction rates, which appears to be a consequence of security and welfare: once you stop being worried about your future in terms of food, shelter, stability, you make less kids. This, in a nutshell, is what has happened in Europe, North America and Japan in the last 50-ish years, where population growth has gone in the negative range, if immigration is not accounted for.

How do you achieve that?

Increasing in a substantial way the standard of life in the parts of the world which still have a fast growing population: health prevention, food should be no more a worry. And mind that currently the wealth distribution in the world is very skewed, so redistribution will be necessary.

Then of course there is the issue that, even if today magically population would stop growing, there would still be too many living who, because of the measures you have taken, will now also live longer. So, if you don't want to wait about 80 years to start seeing the population count deflate, you should probably resort to some help in cutting the population down: wars and epidemics were pretty effective in the past, and also help in redistributing the wealth, because they shake the status quo in the medium-long term.

  • $\begingroup$ So basically 'stop sitting on the fence, either be really nice to people or get on with it & actually kill them' :) $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 22, 2021 at 10:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how killing billions of people solves anything. Overall, the problem is that if we don't do something then billions of people will die; how does killing those billions ourselves solve anything? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ once you stop being worried about your future in terms of food, shelter, stability, you make less kids, or, when you are worried about affording a home of more than 25 m² in a city, or too busy working for your rent to have time to find a life mate, you also make less kids (example: Singapore) $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that leveling off population growths has already happened in most of the world. Number of children born in 2020 is about the same as in 2000. Current population growth exists only because there are currently more 20-year-olds than 60-year-olds and most of the 20-year-olds will live well above 60. It helps that we don't have the global population growth of the 1960s anymore but it is not enough. $\endgroup$
    – quarague
    Sep 22, 2021 at 13:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Will a decrease in population have an immediate effect on climate? And will it stop cascade effects that we are already observing? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Sep 22, 2021 at 18:12

A mix

It isn't a single solution. It'll always be a cocktail.

Remove all carbon emitting infrastructure, technologies and factories

First and foremost you need to stop emitting more CO². Stop using and building at once. This will be a good basis for reduction. There is an asterisk here. Some can remain, if they are advantageous. Creation of solar panels, or a few all important roads can remain. These can be a starting point for future development and sustaining the human race in an environmental friendly way.

Improve technology

Improving technology is an all important way to reduce or eliminate emissions. Like the invention of the fridge has reduced food waste all over the world, so can many other technologies improve the lives. Think of green alternatives to concrete and asphalt, or a green replacement of rubber. Technology must advance to improve the world.

CO² reduction

Now a two in one. You want dark? You got it. As L.Dutch states, reduction of population is key. Farming, raising animals for food, creation of buildings, infrastructure, transport and energy usage. All are huge contributors to CO² and other stuff in one way or another. All are being used by this population. Reduce the population, reduce the usage of CO² emitting things. Still, so far all solutions, including the reduction of population, is about reducing emissions. Nothing about reducing the actual CO² and other things in the atmosphere.

The method of reducing the CO² can be done together with reducing the population. One of the easiest methods to remove CO² from the atmosphere is to grow things that bind CO² inside them and stay alive a long time. Trees are very good at both. Give seeds to a large part of the population, have them seed farmland and tear down/change urban areas to make room for vegetation. Work most of this population to literal death. Their bodies and blood will fertilise the land, helping the spread and growth of trees.

It solves much. You need no housing, infrastructure, food or energy for the population that dies. The remaining population can make due with a great reduction in infrastructure and shipping thanks to the sacrifice. The trees will grow quick, as you had 50 to 80% of the population working to make forests before they fertilised it with their own bodies. You can even reclaim deserts with these techniques. The reduction in bad things in the atmosphere will be very significant.

  • $\begingroup$ idk, what the point is, just wait and if gw is so bad it will happen naturally $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg If we wait, how far down to road to a Venus climate can humans survive? There's reason to believe that if not artificially halted, global warming will become self-driven (assuming, optimistically, that it's not already too late). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 22, 2021 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon developed countries have resources, as in the solutions, to survive quite deep down. Underdeveloped ones will have problems, as they do not have tools to produce solutions for themselfs. Potencially we can greenhouse all our fields, have floating structures and such. Prepeard even waterworld situation won't be a problem(expensive as sht, but not impossible). So poor countries and animals those are not in such a good situation, not sure about animals. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg Do you not understand how unsurvivable even 100C surface temperature would be, never mind 300C? Digging deep won't help, the rock gets hotter the deeper you go. And rising sea level isn't the big problem; it can't rise enough to cover all the land (there just isn't that much water), but when it gets hot enough to evaporate most of it... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 22, 2021 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon some credible link plz, which says it will be 100C. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 22, 2021 at 18:27

Brutal Agricultural Collectivization:

A brutal junta has transformed societies before. Over and over, they transform societies to new goals. So your goal is to reduce greenhouse gasses to preindustrial levels and preserve the junta. The answer? Be a brutal, oppressive military junta. It's extremely difficult to eliminate a brutal dictatorship without external supports for your revolution or vacillation by the oppressors. Reduce the world to a pre-industrial level.

Start by shutting down the internet and stopping broadcast media. Socially isolate everyone from their neighboring lands. Eliminate technology. Eliminate cities and industry. Pol Pot was a half-hearted sissy. Force everyone onto farms where they must work for their food - but they don't know it's not just them, because you've destroyed communications. Mandate a vegan diet and eliminate all cattle. Alternatively, soylent green is an acceptable source of protein and helps relieve population pressure. Indoctrinate everyone with constant messaging for your eco-supremist message. If resources are limited, do it region-by-region and milk the remaining areas to maintain the military base of the junta as long as possible.

Reduce global population to below a billion. Kill everyone at the slightest sign of resistance, or simply by the expediency that the system is inefficient and the guards eat first. Protests don't work if you don't care if the protesters live or die - in fact, you prefer them to die. Only leave a few industrial pockets to maintain technological superiority over the unwashed masses of humanity - now considerably less massive.

Plant trees. Lots and lots of trees.

Now that you've established your junta as the only possible power on the globe, and reduced the problem to a manageable level, you can slowly introduce any other measures or gradually reestablish a carbon-neutral civilization.


Russia, there is always Russia

Global warming is ...

  • A Bad Thing if you happen to live in the southern part of the USA, or in southern Europe, or in the Sahel (but nobody cares about the Sahel), or in the southern parts of India, or maybe in Australia (but I don't know how many people live in Australia).

  • Pretty much irrelevant if you live in oceanic Western Europe.

  • A mostly irrelevant with a pinch good thing if you live in the northen parts of Central Europe, such as Germany.

  • A clearly Good Thing if you happen to live in Russia, Poland, Byelorussia, and other such cold (or at least coldish) countries.

So the first immediate task of the "coalition of military forces from several western countries" is to win a war with Russia, preferably without converting their own countries into desolate wastelands. France and Germany will most likely be neutral; England ought to remain neutral, but in the last few decades the English have shown that they are less than fully rational and might joint the American Crusade. Australia will probably have to join if England joins.

And China will observe with unadulterated joy how the western devils are battling among themselves.

  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much irrelevant if you live in oceanic Western Europe. A mostly irrelevant with a pinch good thing if you live in the northen parts of Central Europe, such as Germany — tell that to the people affected by the western Germany floods this summer, or to the coastal people who will be underwater before the end of the century. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ You aren't looking at the worst case models strongly enough. $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Sep 22, 2021 at 15:37

Genetic Engineering

Doing away with any ethical constraints to solve this problem makes it a great deal easier. The only remaining issue is the initial funding required, finding experts willing to cooperate, and trying to make sure that you do not inadvertently over-do the amount of cooling and force the Earth into an ice age.

First, a deadly virus with human-engineered levels of contagion. You would want a fairly lengthy incubation period so it has as much time to spread as possible, followed by instant production of toxins that are both lethal and easily countered if known ahead of time. This way, you can inoculate your own people and anyone your terrorists deem important enough, while the masses of other people die off in droves.

The first step alone would likely result in the near collapse of industrial society, but we want to reverse what was done to the climate as quickly as possible rather than relying on time and natural processes, hence step two.

Step two would be to use genetic engineering to create a specialized form of algae capable of capturing huge amounts of carbon and stabilizing it. This is a lot trickier to accomplish than step one, but I'm fairly confident that a dedicated organization with more money than sense and a lack of ethical qualms could chaingang enough of the scientific community into solving this problem for them.

Rapid widespread deployment of this algae into the wild is an ethical disaster with widespread ecological implications, but our goal here is to reverse global warming, so that's not a concern.

Assuming everything goes according to plan, we've either solved global warming very quickly, with some "side effects", or we've solved global warming somewhat slowly by killing off all of humanity by accident.

Possibly this is Win/Win for your terrorist organization? They are somewhat monstrous. I obviously don't recommend this approach. It's a bad idea. Fun for a story though, I'd bet!


Apart from all the issues the question suffers (dubious science, decade-long track record of failed forecasting and simply false base assumptions), as well as complete lack of wide awareness of actual climate state of the planet (we're living in an ice age, during a VERY unusual warming period, which was caused by factors still yet unknown), let's take it at a face value. There are some ways to quickly and efficiently stop global warming as defined today and with causes as identified by current warming alarmists.

  1. CO2 is most important part of the atmosphere - without it, or even with it at too low a level (somewhere between 180 and 200 ppm) life would not be possible. Plants would die of starvation. Conversely, higher levels of CO2 would mean more lush plant life, extending farther into deserts (as higher CO2 level reduces water consumption by plants), so easiest way out of rising temperatures from increased CO2 levels is to increase green areas by deliberate planting of trees, especially in cities, using every scrap of suitable area (roofs, playgrounds, parks, some part sidewalks, etc.)
  2. Reduce human population drastically, for example by releasing highly contagious virus with high enough mortality rate. This solution, though, does not guarantee success, because it needs corresponding reduction in farm animal population, which will actually increase dramatically if one would rid only of part of human population.
  3. Invest in high-tech housing heating technologies not using fossil or renewable fuels. While cars are considered big contributors to the global warming, they're actually not. For example, in Central and Northern Europe heating homes is the source of 50-70% of the CO2 emissions (compared to less than 15% from ICE cars).
  4. Invest in pipes transporting oil and natgas instead of ships. It is estimated that all the cars in Europe emit same amount of fumes as 200 tankers which carry just oil from suppliers. Switching from sea shipping to pipes for fuels and to trains for goods could reduce emissions globally by about 50%, completely reversing alleged trends.
  5. Coupled with conversion of electricity generation from fossil to nuclear would bring that down even more. Though it needs to be done in the distributed manner, because large nuclear power plants do emit quite a lot of greenhouse gasses, chiefly water vapor. So it needs to be done using passive cooling technology and, of course, using tech that can't suffer from runaway nuclear reaction that will cause reactor breaches and/or explosions.
  6. Alternatively, one can consider distributed (huge number of small (up to 20kW) hydro plant network. This, coupled with reforestation, would beside generating huge amount of energy with moderate (calculated on per kW/MW basis) initial investment level would have a side benefit of increasing surface and sub-surface water levels by creating huge number of small bodies of water. If those small bodies would be to great extent shaded by trees, evaporation of water from those bodies would also be reduced, contributing to better water retention in conditions closest to those from before explosion of human habitation areas.
  1. Halt all fossil fuel extraction, distribution and consumption.
  2. Radical greening - reforestation.
  3. Prohibit wood burning as a means of heating or cooking. Draconian consequences for non compliance.
  4. Balance animal farming against plant farming for self-fertilising eco-systems. Previously oil based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides will have become prohibitively expensive, so better farming practices (organic) will be the only ones economically viable.
  5. Draconian anti-pollution laws - the ocean must be cleaned in order for marine vegetation to flourish and do its job.
  6. As a consequence of 1 and 2, parts of the planet will become more difficult/expensive to live in - insulation, geothermal, daytime heat storage will all be needed/used to heat homes.
  7. As a consequence of 1, people will travel less, people will not drive into work unless their jurisdiction is green powered and they have electric transportation.
  8. As a consequence of 1, disposable plastic will practically disappear.
  9. Substances like Aluminum, Steel, Cement will only be made using green energy and so will become vastly more rare/expensive. Older technologies will flourish, like straw-bale and clay/mud construction, timber buildings etc.
  10. Civilisation will coalesce around green energy sources.

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