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Climate change is accelerating at a terrifying pace, globalization is pushing more and more of the world to consume at an American scale, and world populations are growing at rates unimaginable just 200 years ago. Beyond CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere at alarming rates, massive amounts of pollutants, toxins, and substances that take a very long time to break down naturally are flooding the ecosystem. And even if those problems are magically taken care of, massive habitat destruction is placing immense stress on the ecological balance between flora and fauna, resulting in a mass extinction event only experienced on this planet for a handful of times in its multi-billion year existence.

From this point, a committed actor might find the idea of killing off most of humanity to be an attractive option. They might be a very wealthy individual or group seeking to enjoy a paradise planet free of the lower classes, a radical inspired by religion or environmentalism, or what have you. Point is, they've come to the conclusion that saving the Earth while saving humanity might require unprecedented genocide.

As far as conditions go, they aren't looking to kill off everybody. Just...the "rest." They want a functioning society like we have today (so no eco-hippies looking to live like Adam & Eve) with all of the technology currently in use. They just don't want so many people on the planet that their existence and consumerism will poison the planet for everybody. The best-case scenario is one where most of the people in the world simply disappear and the survivors - for the most part - are ok with this.

BUT THEN as this person or group plays out the set of conditions that would end the life of 90%+ of people (while ensuring no significant harm is done to the greater ecosystem), they find that this plan - even if correctly carried out - will NOT work out for them.

Why?

Do they reason out that too few survivors would be unable to repopulate humanity without nasty inbreeding side effects? Would they be unable to maintain the many complex parts of modern life (electricity, telecommunications, civil engineering, etc) and ultimately lose thousands of years of knowledge and regress into a new Dark Ages? Would they predict that infighting among the survivors would be impossible and lead to either of the situations above?

What prediction or realization would cause a very determined group to completely abandon otherwise well-planned initiatives to kill off most of the people on Earth? Given how determined these people are, it would take an absolutely devastating endgame for them to completely abandon their plans. So while it might get boring watching re-runs of the same television shows over and over, it won't be a deal breaker. It has to be something so terrible that it would force the planners - who are really into the mass genocide idea - to collectively quit the plan for good.

Bonus points for viable alternatives to mass genocide that plausibly protect the planet and the modern middle-class way of life.

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closed as off-topic by James, Hohmannfan, cobaltduck, TrEs-2b, John Dallman Sep 9 '16 at 21:54

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  • $\begingroup$ So, this person(s) has laid out steps 1,2,3,...,X and discovers step X-5 won't work because of plot reason, and you want us to tell you what the plot reason is? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 9 '16 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre that is my precise request. I am not looking to make a story out of this as much as I am seeking input from creative people. $\endgroup$ – rm -rf slash Sep 9 '16 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with simply "seeking input from creative people" is that answers have no objective means to judge which is the "best" answer that solves your problem. Consider that a) "all nuclear reactors will detonate because of lack of maintenance" and b) "someone could ensure, in all fairness, the remaining 10% are eliminated as well" are both perfectly valid answers to your question. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 9 '16 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I am not sure what you are asking. This site is full of great answers, but also good second or third rate answers. They are all interesting to consider, even if they are not all the "best" answer. Your A and B answers, by the way, were very interesting and I would have upvoted them if you placed them in an answer outright. Given that this is Stack Exchange, the benefit is not just for me, the OP, but for future visitors as well, to decide which answer is best for them. /meta $\endgroup$ – rm -rf slash Sep 9 '16 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that Green Ideologues like that would not hesitate to pull off their plan (looking at various declarations on the web, they apparently think that killing 6 billion people is no big deal. Even the Communist and Socialist dictators of the 20th century only managed 100 million human deaths between them). Best resolution would be the "X" factor they create is unstable or unviable, or better yet kills them instead. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 9 '16 at 19:35
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No this evil would not work

The reason is quite simple. There is no clear way to kill off that many people in a controllable, unavoidable manner. Nukes kill those in the city that was nuked and damage everything. Poison gases have much the same effect of random death and environmental destruction but damage machinery less. Super diseases are indiscriminate, beyond our current technology, and can be avoided with hygiene precautions. ( and some people will be immune) Billions of drones can be shot down and will run out of power. The weapons will be stopped by thick concrete or rock. They are ineffective in caves and forests.

None of these options and no others I can think of remotely fit your specifications. Nor could they be planned without people noticing.

The plan can't be kept secrete until it is too late. Therefore there will exist security agencies that know about this. The result is an all out war against the planners in which both sides suffer and the planners are outnumbered 9 to 1. ( If the planners are that organized and hard to stop. They sound like a bunch of nutters with no hope of doing any damage. )

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  • $\begingroup$ A plague with a 99% mortality rate could work. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Dec 13 '17 at 15:21

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