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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics


Thursday, December 12, 2013

7 Ways a Future Hitler Could Ruin the World

On March 19, 1945, Adolf Hitler may have sensed that all was lost. On that day he issued the so-called Nero Decree, which almost seemed to have been designed to burn up Germany in a fiery apocalypse of destruction. Perhaps he thought: if I have to go, as many of my countrymen as possible are going with me. His order dictated that “all military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.” That's almost an order to blow up or burn everything in his country. Thankfully Albert Speer (one of Hitler's subordinates) disregarded the order.

If Hitler could have issued an order like that, perhaps some future dictator will give a similar order. But such a dictator might not just want to blow up his country – perhaps he might want to ruin the whole world. Faced with a prospect of death or the loss of a war or the collapse of his regime, the dictator may think to himself: if I have to die, everybody else is going with me. Or perhaps the dictator might have a religious motivation. He might think he is God's agent in bringing about the Last Days or End of the World predicted by some prophet or religious book.

But how might such a dictator bring about worldwide ruin in a final orgy of global destruction? Below are some of the ways.

The Wish of an Evil Dictator

Method 1: Start a Nuclear War

A diabolical dictator armed with a nuclear bomb could probably do more than just blow up a single city. He might also be able to start a full-scale nuclear war in which hundreds of nuclear missiles get released. The dictator might spread some disinformation designed to make one superpower suspicious about an attack from a second superpower. The dictator might then smuggle in a nuclear weapon into a major city of the first superpower, and explode it. This might result in a retaliatory attack by the first superpower against the second superpower, which could escalate into a full-scale nuclear war.

For example, the dictator might spread rumors or misinformation that Russia is going to attack the United States. The dictator might then blow up a nuclear bomb in the United States. The dictator could then say: “You see? We warned you they were plotting against you.” The US might then launch two retaliatory missiles against Russia, which might then retaliate by launching 4 missiles at the US, which might trigger the US to launch 8 missiles against Russia, and so forth. The resulting nuclear exchanges might trigger a nuclear winter which kills almost everyone worldwide.

This is a frightening thought: one nuclear bomb leveraged to cause a war that kills almost everyone.

Method 2: An EMP Attack

A diabolical dictator armed with only a few nuclear missiles might be able to wipe out half of the world's electrical and computer systems. To wipe out much of the electrical system of the United States, it would be necessary merely to blow up a nuclear bomb in the upper atmosphere, in the middle of the country. The resulting Compton Effect would cause an electromagnetic pulse effect that would wipe out electricity, telephones and computers all over the country. If the dictator had four nuclear missiles, he might be able to wipe out half of the world's electricity and computer systems, by blowing up one nuclear bomb in the upper atmosphere above the middle of the United States, another in the upper atmosphere above the middle of Europe, another in the upper atmosphere above the middle of China, and another in the upper atmosphere above the middle of Russia.

Method 3: A Biological Apocalypse

By funding a few biological warfare laboratories, an evil dictator might be able to prepare a plague that could wipe out 50% or more of humanity. The laboratories might make genetic modifications of an existing bacteria or virus, modifications that might vastly increase the lethality of the germs. A recent scientific paper described a way in which a common flu virus might be modified to make it vastly more lethal.

Once his labs had developed such a super-bug, the dictator could arrange for the germ to be spread to each continent in the world. If the disease caused by the germ had an incubation period of several weeks, the disease might spread all over the world before biologists recognized the threat. By then it might be too late.

Method 4: An Asteroid Apocalypse

If an evil dictator had a space program, he could announce a plan to capture an asteroid and bring it back to near planet Earth. This could be described as a noble technological breakthrough, to help begin asteroid mining to reduce metal shortages in the future. But the dictator might have something different in mind. His actual plan might be to send the asteroid crashing into our planet, causing a devastating apocalypse. We might never know what hit us until it was too late. Looking up in the sky and seeing a new star, we might say, “Oh, isn't that nice; it's that asteroid they've dragged over here so they can mine it.” A few hours later we might be buried in dust.

Method 5: Doom from the Moon

If an evil dictator had a space program, he might also announce that he was establishing a lunar colony. Once a lunar colony had been established, the dictator could create a mass driver, which is kind of a huge electromagnetic catapult capable of launching lunar boulders out from the moon. Such a machine (possible because of the low gravity and airlessness of the moon) would actually be a devastating offensive weapon. The boulders could be launched toward our planet, and could strike it with incredible kinetic energy. A relatively small boulder could then strike our planet with as much force as a gigantic bomb. A dictator willing to send thousands of such projectiles might wipe out every major city on our planet.

Method 6: Oceanic Apocalypse

Many people are very worried about the current health of the world's oceans. Global warming is causing ocean acidification that is very troubling. An evil dictator wishing to cause an apocalypse might figure: if the ocean is the world's Achilles heel, then let me leverage that. The dictator could release a genetically engineered microbe that might lead to runaway ocean acidification, or runaway proliferation of a single microbe in the ocean's waters. The resulting ecological disaster might ruin the planet's suitability for human life.

Method 7: Air Pollution Apocalypse

Scientists recently announced the discovery of a gas called perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), which is 7000 times worse than carbon dioxide in its global warming effects. The gas has been produced by certain industrial manufacturing processes for decades. If an evil dictator wanted to cause a global disaster, he might create a factory specifically designed to manufacture this gas and release it into the atmosphere. The factory might deliberately produce the gas for years, producing greatly accelerated global warming. The dictator might then sit back and watch the world's cities be drowned by rising seas.

A Global Government Needed?

In short, we have seen that a single mad dictator with a nation at his disposal might have a frightening variety of ways to ruin the world. This may be one argument in a favor of a global government. As soon as we get a global government, we will no longer have to worry about the whole world being ruined by one madman with a whole nation available to fulfill his heinous whims.