The nations of the world have been slow to act on climate change. What if they took a giant step, almost overnight?

What I’m Writing

This week I share with you a writing exercise I did several years ago for an online course from The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. The assignment was to make a fictitious news statement look true. I wrote an imagined in-studio conversation between a host and two guest commentators for a nightly news program about G-7 actions on climate change. (The story is NOT inspired by any popular superhero films.) I hope you enjoy it.

Reduce by Half

Bob Gillen

Good evening and thanks for joining us this hour. I’m Nicki McNally. I’ve said before that the time of slow news days on Fridays is long gone. Today’s news will exceed even your wildest imagination.

We reported exclusively on this show last night that the G-7 called an emergency meeting. As we speak, they are together in an undisclosed location in Switzerland. Our sources tell us they are discussing climate change.

Apparently the G-7 are so serious about this meeting that they invited Russia to join them on a temporary basis. So, the G-8.

Well, that was last night’s news. Tonight our sources tell us, again exclusively, that the eight nations have today decided on a course of action. A shocking course. Earth-shattering, if I may be allowed a pun.

After a marathon day of meetings, the G-8 have moved quickly beyond the what and why of climate change. Our sources tell us that today they addressed the how. Their conclusion – the earth must reduce its population by half if we are to survive the current crisis.

You heard me correctly. Reduce the earth’s population by half. And the G-8 believe that this needs to be done within the next two years. Two years.

I pause for a moment to let that sink in.

All gone within 24 months.

Our planet is inhabited by about 7.7 billion people. Half that would be roughly 3.8 billion people. All gone within 24 months.

In this almost unimaginable recommendation, the G-8 are bypassing the United Nations. Bypassing all other countries, including India and China. Disregarding NPOs around the world. With this decision the G-8 have assumed control over the climate crisis. Up for discussion now is their proposal for how this will be achieved.

We have with us in the studio tonight climate expert Jon Greenleaf. Jon, this is enormous. What’s your initial take on this?

Thanks, Nicki. Enormous is an understatement. Here are only a few of the issues facing the G-8. How do we eliminate 3.8 billion people from the earth? In two years?

Who will be eliminated? We are not talking about genocide here. This is above race and ethnicity. This is planet-wide.

Let me run through a handful of bullet points for your consideration.

First, no one disputes the necessity of the action. Our planet is dying. We are killing it.

Next, there is the issue of the hubris, if you will, of only eight nations making this decision. Granted, the eight – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and now Russia – represent 58% of global net worth. They are considered to be advanced economies.

Next, who will be designated for reduction? Do we do half of every nation on earth? Do we target entire areas on the globe?

The objective is to leave large areas of the earth to regenerate on their own. 

Now, the how. The methodology. Are we talking euthanasia? Eugenics? Sterilization is far too slow. What about asking for volunteers? Perhaps paying their surviving members a stipend. Maybe a lotto. Everyone on earth is assigned a computer-generated number. Odd numbers stay, even numbers are subject to reduction.

Who will enforce this action?

A further point – who will enforce this action? It could easily result in military action, at least with several nations. Will North Korea, for example, comply willingly with this?

Let me interrupt you, Jon. I’m thinking, what of the ethics of this? The moral implications? Think of the reaction of the world’s religions.

Indeed, Nicki. Say the world successfully carries this out somehow. It will impact economies as well. Losing half the residents of the United States, for example, could eliminate millions of jobs. I should say, eliminate people filling the jobs. Who will continue to maintain agriculture, financial institutions, education? Granted, the need for food and education could be less with all those people gone. But globally, it’s a huge issue.

What of taxes? The tax base could be cut in half. In every nation in the world. Fewer resources for services, police and fire protection, defense.

What of the talent base? The resources available to us now. The creative minds. The engineering folks. Computer systems.

And there is a huge logistical issue. Where and how will we bury 3.8 billion bodies? Can we do cremation on such a large scale? Bodies cannot easily be transported to large-scale disposal sites. 

Thank you, Jon, for your insights. Jon Greenleaf, climate change expert.

I am reeling. Of course, no one will dispute the crisis, the need for immediate action.

I have here with me another climate expert. James Walker. James, talk to us.

Thanks for having me, Nicki. This is radical beyond belief. If we began to work on climate change today, it would take many years to see a difference. Carbon emissions, glacier melting, rising ocean levels, storms, fires. Reversals will take years, decades. Sure, we can begin to change these, if globally we agree to a course of action. Yet the world’s population keeps growing. The chances of making a significant impact are honestly slim.

The solution to reduce the world’s population by half is radical. To add to Jon’s points, how do we decide who goes? Do we do it by nation? Are some nations less important than others? Could we do this by continent? Free up an entire continent for re-growth?

And in terms of impact, how do we do this without harming the flora and fauna of the earth? Can we eliminate all those humans and leave animals and plant growth unscathed?

James, my producers are telling me to take a one-minute break. Stay with me, please, for more discussion.

Please stay with us. What a day this is. So much to talk about.