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There are a number of movies, books and TV shows where the villain wants to kill nearly everyone on the planet because of ecological concerns: there are too many humans, we're using the global resource stockpile way too fast, we're polluting the planet, other species are going extinct,... In many of the movies on this subject, the villain usually has a plan which is essentially "save those with money, kill everyone else and rebuild the earth with them". It happens in Kingsman, at least 2 Bond movies, several other TV shows/movies/books.

the question is though: Would that actually be a decent solution for reducing the ecological pressure put on Earth by human activity? Considering both the ecological footprint of all the humans that would die as well as the many processes that would fail catastrophically if humanity was no longer able to maintain them (factories, power plants, similar locations where humans are needed to maintain or at least supervise machines to ensure they don't fail catastrophically with loads of fire and pollution), what would the net effect on Earth's ecology be of killing 99% of the population in a way that keeps most of the infrastructure intact? I'm talking about a singular culling of over 90% of the human population, a one time only event while the survivors put in the effort to ensure the future generations don't break the bank again.


I have read Why not kill off most of humanity?. That one is focused on the plan failing and a story-based reason why it would fail. This question is focused on whether the plan itself has any merit, regardless of motivations for executing or halting the plan. As such, I don't think it's a duplicate.

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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 I've specified what problem I wonder the solution is decent for. I've also replaced the zoo animals part because it was not really pertinent and I essentially just chose it to have a list with 3 items. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Dec 12 '17 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Could you maybe specify a time frame? Looking at ecological changes for the next 300 million years or a decade after the event is not exactly the same $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 12 '17 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ Future answerers: please also consider non-instant slaughter, e.g. sterilizing. Villains may be thinking over a greater time scale ;) $\endgroup$ – Neinstein Dec 12 '17 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ Killing the population for ecological reasons seems like killing your brothers and sisters because Mom makes you share the same bed. Why not just kick them out? Life is precious, it doesn't seem to exists anywhere else, it certainly isn't reaching out to us. Why not just colonize space which is our destiny anyway? $\endgroup$ – scott_f Dec 12 '17 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Neinstein I read a somewhat disturbing SF short story with this exact plot. I think the title was "The calculus of desperation", can't recall the author. A GM flu virus was being spread, to induce infertility in 95% of women infected. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Dec 13 '17 at 9:39

12 Answers 12

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Situation:

  • Humanity is killing the planet

Aim:

  • Reduce load on the planet by reducing population
  • Maintain current lifestyle for the survivors

Options to achieve the aims

Starting with a standard bad guy option, I gather all my wealthy friends to my volcanic fortress and kill everyone else.

  • Outcome: Terrible. Wealth is mostly real estate and companies. Without workers for the companies, without a market for their products, the companies are worth nothing. Without demand for the space, the real estate is equally worthless. Also rich people are mostly useless. They have no physical or practical skills, none of them could build a hut, a boat, or a fishing rod.

Geographical option, I want to survive this so we'll draw a circle around Western Europe and kill everyone outside it.

  • Outcome: Better than the first. Western Europe is, on a global scale, just a bunch of rich people. There are now a lot more practical skills and knowledge available, a good chance that the survivors won't rapidly return to the stone age, but they certainly won't be able to maintain the disposable culture as too much of it is made in Chinese factories.

Pseudo random option, just kill 99% of people evenly distributed globally.

  • Outcome: Everybody is dead of the disease caused by so many rotting corpses around them. The rest are too traumatised to try to survive. Economies collapse, lifestyle is lost.

Sarcastic option, this is the only way you can achieve both goals as for all other purposes they're mutually exclusive, kill everyone who has ever held a mobile phone.

  • Outcome: The isolated tribes who've never been contacted carry on as before, they maintain their skills and lifestyles without being affected. The consumer culture that's causing the vast bulk of the damage is wiped out. It'll take thousands of years before the global population is back at a technological level where they can start doing that level of damage again.

Perhaps you could just teach people about the damage their way of life is doing to the world and that they should be more careful about disposable tat and plastic packaging.

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    $\begingroup$ @ZioByte, as I get older I'm increasingly a hopeless optimist, increasingly hopeless but also for some reason increasingly optimistic. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 12 '17 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Fabian, we're talking about killing over 90% of the population of the planet, at what point does "nice" come into it? :) $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 12 '17 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ Best criteria ever. Kill everyone that has ever held a mobile phone.... Oh, damn. It includes me. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Dec 12 '17 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Fabian Its sad, but true. Both my kids (under 2 years old) would be dead from holding mobile phones. Surprise twist: they'd be dead even if my wife and I didn't own phones! Note, for the future: no more teenage girls babysitting.... $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 12 '17 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you could just teach people about the damage their way of life is doing to the world... yeah... just lock them up in an boat and give them a book with some guidelines to follow after the Calamity... just to make sure they remember and don't repeat mistakes from the past. How could that possibly go wrong? $\endgroup$ – WernerCD Dec 12 '17 at 20:03
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Perhaps the simplest answer is not to kill anyone, but to stop more people from being added. Bonus points for reducing the rate of replacement.

So China's one child policy, if implemented globally, would easy solve the issue in 2 generations. Sure, you'd have other issues to deal with - mainly an ageing population that requires either less pension, longer working lives, or automated elderly care (all of which are solvable - pensions are dealt with by keeping elderly people working on a part-time basis, which happens in 3rd world countries anyway, or keeping them working longer as I personally know lots of people forced to retire when they didn't really want to)

The net result is that the population slowly reduces. Children are better educated (as there are fewer of them and they are now considered more precious and important to be good citizens) and they in turn will have fewer children anyway because they are better educated! (This is happening in China, they will have a demographic problem in the future as, apart from the stupidity of old cultural thinking that boys were better, thus skewing the male-female ratio to an imbalanced state where the total number of male-female pairings for reproductive purposes will be constrained by the lower number of females, the female children that are born into this system have been educated and expect careers and perhaps, not even to have large families like their parents or grandparents did.

So ultimately, the population will slowly stabilise, and will be an all-round "better" set of people.

Your trouble is persuading everyone to do this, but the easiest way is via money. child benefit for the 1st child only and that's it, no more, will have an effect on many; in other places, families with 1 child will be entitled to government assistance for (say) elderly care so they do not need to have loads of children to look after the parents. You could ensure that 1 child families are first in the queue for state housing or jobs, etc.

You don't even need to mandate 1 child, just nudge the population to have fewer children via these incentives, depending on how quickly you want to change the planetary population.

In 20 years time, there will be fewer children, in 40, fewer adults, in 60 the problem will be solved.

If are a villain who wants to force it on everyone, then start researching a GM virus that makes half the population infertile. Drop it in the water, job done. Make sure to double test it first!

So while this doesn't kill 99% of the population, it effectively does the same job, only a lot slower by employing age to do it for you.

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    $\begingroup$ I wanted to add an answer along these lines. You could add to the policies you propose money prizes for people getting vasectomies. Where I live, half of the population would take the money. $\endgroup$ – user9981 Dec 13 '17 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ "start researching a GM virus that makes half the population infertile" ... just make sure it's not all of the Female half or all of the Male half.... because then you'd be in a pickle. $\endgroup$ – NotMe Dec 13 '17 at 16:44
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Plan has merits (we are surely too many by at least an order of magnitude), but is also very stupid (especially the part about saving people with a lot of money).

  • You need high population (100M+) to sustain current technology.
  • You need sizable population (1M+) for both biodiversity and cultural specialization.
  • Rich people wouldn't be able to make machines/research/industry work.
  • Without other constraints population would bloom back in a matter of generations (it took less than five years to cover-up losses in WWII).
  • Civilization fall, if happens now, would be difficult to recover from because we depleted most of readily available resources.

If you want to "save the world" you need a better plan ("bad guys" in movies are often quite dense).

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    $\begingroup$ This would make a great comment. Maybe asking about 99% is not a good idea but more about 98.68% for the 100 million threshold makes more sense. Please also consider the restriction "in a way that keeps most of the infrastructure intact". He is actually not asking about the richest people only. Still, it would be nice to know if he is ok with the world population bouncing back like that and in what time frame he is thinking. I'm going to ask him $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 12 '17 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ Bad guys are dense and the heroes are worse $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Dec 12 '17 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Rich people would have their lackeys and other flunkies to do all the real work. I like the way you itemized the factors that would be needed to maintain current levels of civilization. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 12 '17 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ You are aware that human population grew during WWII (not where it waged, but worldwide)? The last time (afaicr) the human population actually decreased was during the 30 year war (and the perfectly timed black plage in China) - There was no need to cover up any losses. $\endgroup$ – Angelo Fuchs Dec 12 '17 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioMBumachar: some metals may be salvaged from landfills or other "deposits", but many others not. They have been fractioned beyond recovery. Think about Wolfram (was used in light bulb filaments) or Quicksilver (do you want to scrape it from back of broken mirrors?). Easier to "harvest" metals from sea water, given technology and power. Note: glass has always been cheap to produce; plastic could (and perhaps should) be harvested from sea to prevent futher damage to ecology. $\endgroup$ – ZioByte Dec 14 '17 at 8:34
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Yes, an organized extermination of 99% of humanity could be the start of a viable solution. The obstacles could be overcome.

Speaking in super-villain mode, 1% of roughly 7.5B is 75M. That is enough to maintain a modern society if you collect them all together and protect them from the extermination. It is larger than the population of England, and 90% the population of Germany. It is 3.5 times the total population of Norway, Denmark and Sweden put together.

Really, a million people is more than enough to keep a modern city running, so dozens of cities could be established, around the world, to be close to the resources that cannot be moved (climate, arable land, fisheries, mining operations, etc), and could be kept running. We could maintain the infrastructure of those cities and grow the food, produce the energy, run the factories, etc.

Especially with all the world's resources, parts and stockpiles untouched and available for the taking. I don't have to depend on scavenging; the actual factories making things like microchips, tablets, farming equipment, etc can be used, we can keep plenty of people that know how to run them, design them, and program them.

The biggest caveat would be population control, but that can be handled too. I can demand genetic screening and abortion for abnormalities, also for parentage. Have all men and women register DNA, and continue to do so at birth for future generations. Parentage becomes a certainty. For both men and women, becoming the parent of a child costs them each a point, and each person has two reproductive points, after which they are surgically sterilized. I'd let them freeze sperm and eggs before sterilization, so if their child dies before adulthood the parents each receive a reproductive point that can be accomplished by in-vitro fertilization, with the same partner or another (e.g. they don't have to stay together).

It makes no sense for me to keep the wealthy, unless I just need them to finance the operation. I have been around dozens of very wealthy people (My skills are particularly useful to them) and most of them are not highly skilled, not great managers or businessmen, and not that intellectually gifted. The source of most of that wealth is a lucky strike (as in striking gold), with some kind of entertainment, an invention that caught on, being born to a wealthy patriarch, having the looks, charisma, voice, or athletic ability to become a star (which does require some skills but not a lot of intellectual firepower), or just being in the right place at the right time or having personal friends that did, so they got in on the dirt floor of the Microsofts, Intels, Apples, Googles and PayPals of their day: One genius with 500 lucky multi-millionaires in their wake, because they got stock for a penny that became worth 10,000 times as much, with no particular genius on their part. (e.g. Bill Gates first receptionist became a multi-millionaire on MSFT stock).

What I want to preserve is talent, expertise, intelligence and problem solving ability, in hundreds of disciplines, and I want to preserve the ability to teach those things to future generations. So if that turns out to be a rich person, fine, if not, I'll take the John Deere engineer that knows how to keep farm machinery running, and everybody else it takes to continue the modern methods of putting bread on the table.

Most of the world would eventually crumble, which is what we want. Return it to forest.

Most of the people would rot and die. But they were all going to die anyway in the next 100 years, so whatever CO2 and pollutants they cause are just a pulse, exactly what they would have produced by eventually dying anyway, and less than they would produce if left alive: Their day-to-day CO2 production (their carbon footprint) comes to an end, thus saving an average of about 40 years of life. Within a few decades, as the parts of the world we don't use return to vegetation and forest, the bodies of the dead are naturally recycled into what we actually want: long lived trees and plants that absorb CO2 and produce oxygen.

For any particular places that we want to use, the dead can be removed and buried at sea as fish food, eventually helping to recover fisheries and sea life.

The oceans and atmosphere would recover, with 99% less pollution, and 99% more forest to absorb whatever pollution we produce. We don't have to give up fossil fuels, our problem is not exactly pollution, but too much pollution so we exceed the absorption capacity of the Earth. Analogous to salt: Eating a pound of salty potato chips won't kill me, eating a pound of salt could produce hypernatremia, salt poisoning that can give me seizures and kill me today.

Yes, exterminating 99% of people can work. There is plenty of land near the northern and southern poles that will still be cold enough for us to ride out the worst of global warming if it ramps up severely, for a few centuries. (Of course enough heat kills everybody and everything, we cannot recover from anything.)

But I [the super-villain] can't just leave the survivors where they are, that would return them to medieval subsistence living almost immediately, or even hunting and gathering. I need a program (and hundreds of people, but I can hire the few dozen leaders I need to recruit and run them) to identify and immunize those I wish to keep (perhaps without their knowledge). Then I need a plan to either have them already be in the right place at the right time, or a plan to protect them and get them there (to one of my 75 sanctuary sites) once the pandemic begins.

I believe both modern civilization and humanity could survive indefinitely with a population of 75 million people. Or with mandatory birth control, whatever we compute as a comfortable carrying capacity of Earth for humans.

I would likely spread out the space occupied by about double, and make living spaces much larger. Crowded and towering cities are not at all a necessity with modern transportation (electric rail and cars), there are only a very few practical reason for a building to exceed three stories if horizontal space is not an issue; it is far easier to build, maintain, and demolish such structures. (Some industrial or scientific equipment is necessarily very tall, housing it is one reason to go above three stories).

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 15 '17 at 21:37
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The logical solution would be to wipe the entire populations of every nation on Earth except for, say, Australia. The weapon of mass destruction of choice will be the equivalent of a neutron bomb that only kills human beings, leaves all physical infrastructure intact and doesn't harm any other lifeform on the planet. Although we could probably do without bedbugs and head lice. **

The rest of the planet and its infrastructure would now be a vast pool of resources for the Australian population. Australia is left as a fully functioning society with an intact infrastructure, all its social, economic and political institutions functional. Certainly there will be need to be some adjustments. The manufacturing industries for aircraft, vehicles and shipbuilding will need to be expanded and developed.

However, colonizing the empty nations of the world and taking over their resources like oil, minerals, crops and livestock plus their industries will be a straight forward exercise for an expanding Greater Australia.

Instead of eliminating 99% of the world's population globally, a wily and thoughtful ecologically minded megalomaniac would find his task of saving the world from a pestilential human species would be better served by annihilating the populations of most of the world's nations and simply saving one nation intact. As shown in this example, Australia would be ideally placed to be that nation, to be home of the surviving 1%.

Would that build a newer, better world? You can bet your life it would!

**: There is one small caveat. The ideal weapon of mass destruction described above is an utter impossibility. Any megalomaniac contemplating such a project will have to accept a little breakage in achieving their objective.

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    $\begingroup$ But you also need to take into account how to maintain those technologies while wiping the people there. Certainly some facilities require continuous maintenance in order to work, it's not that we can simply remove the people and slowly put people back there without repercussions to the technologies/facilities. $\endgroup$ – justhalf Dec 12 '17 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @justhalf The "new wave" of expansion can bring their infrastructure (or at least their know-how of where to start) with them, just as they did the first time, since they're starting from a small core of already advanced civilization. It's not "keeping it running", but depending on the work it could obviate the need. $\endgroup$ – sevenbrokenbricks Dec 12 '17 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @justhalf This is a problem that worried me too. I concluded it would take parapsychological super-weapon to selectively annihilate humans by wiping their minds causing them to die of subsequent organ failure. However, anyone operating machinery or systems would be compelled to turn them off or shut them down before expiring. Fortunately, parapsychological super-weapons are impossible. But we can entertain the idea in a scenario like this. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 13 '17 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android The super-villain can just find a way, over the course of some years, to immunize Australians against a genetically engineered plague. That might immunize some tourists and visitors, but so what. Maybe not, if the immunizing agent is in the water or a few favorite foods or ingredients (flour, sugar, milk, chicken) and must build up over time. It might still kill a lot of infants or elderly, but the super-villain is killing millions of those anyway. Or make the 'cure' temporary, an injection lasts a year and no more. Only the supervillain knows the recipe and has no stockpiles. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Dec 13 '17 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Amadeus What excellent thinking! Pardon me while I make notes for my novel proposal about only Australia surviving a global apocalypse intact and under the leadership of a divinely inspired megalomaniac supervillain conquers the world. :) $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 14 '17 at 7:30
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In short, killing off humanity would be an effective solution (in the medium term), but not an ethical one. There is no doubt that humanity's numbers are having an effect on the ecology of the planet; science has proven that climate change is real and that the environmental concerns are complicated by our sheer weight of numbers.

Ironically enough, killing off ALL of humanity has higher ethical merit than selecting a few to survive. If the problem is humans, then wiping out the entire species is a permanent solution to the problem and solves the moral implications of being the person who gets to choose who survives. If we do that though, what was the point of it all?

So we go back to the idea of a few select survivors. How do we choose them? Intelligence, physical fitness, skills? Genetic considerations? It's an ethical minefield because you're not really choosing who survives; you're choosing who dies.

For the sake of argument though, let's assume that you DID kill off 99% of the population, and you could keep the infrastructure running (you couldn't) and that the economy didn't completely collapse (it would). By my estimates, disposing of that many bodies via cremation would generate nearly 3 Billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases, and would take somewhere in the order of 7 x 10^17 joules of heat energy, and approximately 21 Billion cubic metres of natural gas to complete. Sure, it's a one off cost, but you're still adding to the problem in the short term.

When you stop and think about it, this is a drastic solution to implement without at least considering the alternatives. In the developed world at least, birth rates are already dropping. In Australia, the only reason why we have population growth at all is immigration. It is a similar story in many other developed countries and in China for instance, the one child policy is leading to a runaway aging population problem, where in 20 years or so the burden of aged care will be far and away the highest cost on the state purse and may require a significant percentage of the working age population to undertake.

If the under-developed countries of the world were brought up to the same education standards and accepted women in the workforce as a mechanism to effectively double their economies in a few short years, birth rates around the globe would reduce and no-one would have to be killed. This would introduce other social and economic problems, but couple this with efficiency technologies and other measures already underway and you've got the makings of a potential solution that doesn't involve mass murder.

Put another way; extinction is a pretty big lever to control climate considerations. Perhaps it's wise to investigate some of the smaller ones first, especially as scientists are already working on these issues today.

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    $\begingroup$ I like this question and I think it is very legitimate, which is why I don't like this answer. Stating that it is unethical is trivial. Rambling about how you shouldn't kill everyone is so not the point. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 12 '17 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ But you don't define 'decent'; my point is that it may be effective, but that's not the only (not even a good) definition of decent. Besides, you're potentially using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. What I'm saying is that you need to consider other options first, and that's not rambling $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Dec 12 '17 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ As pointed out by the OP, this is a well-established premise. The question is pretty specific for WB standards. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 12 '17 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ You're pushing an opinion here. The answer to the OP question is no; all I've done is spell out why. It's a dumb idea, really only effective in the medium term unless you're willing to 'thin the herd' every century or so and ultimately there are better solutions which is why no-one in science is even remotely considering this kind of option as viable, let alone anyone who knows how macro-economics works. I get that you like this idea. Respectfully, you're wrong. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Dec 12 '17 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ There you go; fixed. :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Dec 12 '17 at 11:35
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Someone already did, though for different villainous reasons. Still, the effect was profound ;)

As discussed in a number of research articles published since 2011, e.g,

https://news.mongabay.com/2011/01/how-genghis-khan-cooled-the-planet/

Gengiz Khan's military campaigns removed about 40M people from the chessboard, and forests grew back where they were once removed to make way for plowing fields. Since his empire lasted for many decades, maybe 150 years, the effect of permanently depopulated areas was sufficiently long (compared to plagues and other mass extinctions after which populations bloomed back). This allowed for the world ecology to shift noticeably. Some researchers claim he is still the one single greenest person, in the aftermath.

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    $\begingroup$ Link-only answers are generally discouraged, as links tend to go dead over time. Could you edit the relevant information into your answer, please? $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Dec 12 '17 at 15:36
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Short term: the transition phase. Local disasters.

Unless the killing is well managed, there will be localised ecological disasters. Nuclear power plants need a power supply to prevent nuclear accidents. Damaged ecosystems that barely manage to survive because continuous human management compensates for prior human damage, will temporarily see increased imbalance: think of stray cats or deer overpopulation until larger non-human predators recover their long-lost habitats and restore the balance. Hydro dams may collapse, oil refineries and storages may burn, and rusting cars will litter the country. Preventing this would require a coordinated effort. I suspect that when a pandemic kills 99% of the population, such effort would be doomed to fail. Mankind is ending. To prevent pollution, please shut down your industrial plants and bring your car to the nearest "recycling" centre. It's not going to work. There will be short term ecological disasters on various scales. Of course, there will be tremendous disruption to civilisation as well.

Long term: ecological harmony, sustainable development

It will work.

Let's assume the 99% killing is uniformly random. Humanity will survive and be fine. There will be more than 650,000 people left in the UK, 3 million in the USA. They can survive on stockpiles until they manage to clean up the mess and rebuild society. Unless a job is so specialised that there's less than 100 in the UK, there will still be people for every task that needs doing. Crucially, the knowledge on which our civilisation depends is not lost. Plenty of farmers, teachers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, barbers, car mechanics, carpenters, are left.

We will lose some services, at least temporarily, that rely on a very complicated supply chain of highly specialised labour. It might be a while until we can replace our ageing weather satellites. The survivors may have to do without GPS and satellite phones. Most countries probably won't be able to rescue any of their nuclear plants. Science will slow down dramatically, as most surviving scientists will find they're now the only specialised in their field worldwide. That's a step back, but hardly an imminent threat to humanity.

The standard of living will not take too much of a hit. Therefore, the fertility rate will remain low enough to prevent human population to ever count in the billions again. To recover the electricity supply, the survivors will probably prioritise solar and wind over coal and nuclear. Not because they want to save the seals, but because repairing a windmill is a lot less nasty than working in a coal mine and a lot less specialised than a nuclear power plant. Existing capacity of wind, solar, and hydro (assuming the dams survive the transition period) will be plenty to meet the needs of the 1% survivors.

The effect will be lasting ecological recovery. After the disastrous transition phase, ecosystems will recover, ozone depletion will halt, air pollution will cease, as will climate change and deforestation. Ocean acidification is no more. Peak nitrogen or peak phosphorous is no longer a worry. Factory farming might not necessarily cease, but in absolute terms the amount of antibiotics used will drop by 99%. There will be plenty of freshwater for all. The Aral Sea will recover and the Colorado River will once again reach the sea.

Although there are ethical, legal, and practical reasons to object to killing 99% of humanity, from an ecological point of view, it would be highly effective.

If you agree, join the VHEMT ;-).

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The short answer is that you have to kill off most people and then enforce an environmentalist dictatorship upon those left.

I strongly recommending reading about Pentii Linkola, and am surprised he hasn't been mentioned yet. His book "Can Life Prevail?" is relevant. Linkola is rather politely termed a "deep ecologist"... though "environmental extremist" is probably better, and "ecofascist" is not far from the truth. He advocates reducing the human population to 10% of its current total in order to stop environmental destruction.

In his view all life has value, but both the quantity of human life, and destructive effect it has upon all other life on earth, means that the individual human life is worthless. Consequently, in order to prevent ecological destruction, he claims using WMD (biological and chemical if you want infrastructure intact) on cities, enforced migrations, birth control, abortions, abandoning democracy and capitalism in favour of an austere environmentalist dictatorship, is all required, and will protect and preserve the global ecosystem. Democracy he argues is a "religion of death", which inevitably promotes unsustainable consumerism.

Importantly, it's not just killing people which has a corrective effect, but that the nature of government and society changes radically to control the destructive effects of consumerism and greed. Having children would no longer be an individual choice, and resources should be collectivised and minimised.

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Most of the answers here are from the point of view of humanity and its survival. If we step aside from that a little bit and think from Earth's point of view, then we will realize human actions no matter will have minimal impact on earth's ecology over geological time scales. Life began, survived and evolved under far harsher conditions and even if we nuke ourselves out of existence it would not matter much. Earth will heal and support different forms of life until the conditions become too harsh (due sun expanding and other external factors).

As far as humans are concerned, I don't think there will be much change even after a "planned mass culling". We, as a life form are programmed to propagate through reproduction at all costs and all our actions will be always directed towards this goal no matter how intelligent we get. So even if 1% of the population survives, provided enough resources are present things will quickly get back to the way it is now.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Dec 14 '17 at 11:55
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Like NeinStein said in the Comments: a non-instant slaughter solution should be considered.

A good example for this is the novel 'Inferno' (2013):

The plague that Zobrist created is revealed to be a vector virus that randomly activates to employ DNA modification to cause sterility in one third of humans, thereby reducing population growth to a more stable level.Source

By sterilizing a certian percantage of humanity (and infecting all following generations), an instant disaster can be avoided.

The shortterm affects of this procedure would differ from country to country. They mainly depend on:

  1. Birthrate
  2. Population growth rate
  3. Median age

Countrys with a currently low birthrate and a high median age would have to deal with economical problems soon. Mainly because of a missing workforce and a shortage of specialists. The need of power would decrease with the population of the country and therefore get powerplants shutdown. Often do these countrys have a big ecological footprint.

Countrys with a high birthrate and a low median age would be able to avoid these for some time (depending on the mentioned factors) before confronted with the same problems.

Problems:

  1. A big shift upwards in Birthrate might be able to increase the population growth rate over 0% again. The probabilty of this happening depends on the initial sterilization rate.
  2. With increasing sterilization rate the extinction probability increases.
  3. The population growth rate probably wont stall at 0% either. The population will grow again.
  4. The ecological pressure will be released slowly (not as fast as in an 99% slaughter).

Advanatage over slaughter:

  1. Most of the infrastructure is kept intact.
  2. The effect on the ecological footprint will last longer (but wont be that strong).
  3. We could maintain our standard of living.
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The problem with killing these assholes is that it would be easier to just force them to use ecological tools. Force them to use clean sources of energy, find a solution on how to use/defuse nuclear waste, switch people to less food waste and usage of more efficient food.

The problem with solution in Kingsman is that when most of the people die the rich ones would no longer be rich, politicians would have no one to control and no army to fight with. Their position would depreciate in value.

Solution in Moonraker is one of the best as the sole purpose is to kill ALL humans and repopulate with selected based on their feats (DNA). So we kill humans and build another race. This is good. BUT again, the way to do that and make earth habitable and with enough food would probably take more effort than just slap all coal users, diesel burning, meat eating lovers.

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  • $\begingroup$ You overlooked the best solution of this kind of them all. Doctor Noah's virus in Casino Royale (c. 1967) which kills all men taller than five foot and makes all women beautiful. For those who haven't seen the movie, Doctor Noah is played by Woody Allen.On second thoughts, maybe it's not so good. I'd be dead too. Make that: kills all men over 175 cm, & still makes all woman beautiful. Now that's much better, $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 12 '17 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android It's no use if the women are beautiful when they still don't like me. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Dec 12 '17 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ That is one question modern science cannot answer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 13 '17 at 3:33

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