A Modern Modest Proposal
by E. Z., Los Altos

Climate change is a hotly debated topic, and rather than pushing for actual change, many people deny it is real or instead blame population growth without any meaningful discussions. Carbon dioxide emissions, which are the main cause of global warming, depend on the number of people emitting CO2 times the CO2 emission per person. The problem can be solved by reducing the number of people, or by reducing the emissions per person, using energy more efficiently, or moving to renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar that do not emit CO2. There are a few solutions to the increased carbon, but all proposals so far have holes in them. Solar geoengineering, by continuous production of a stratospheric cloud or by brightening clouds over the ocean to reflect sunlight, would produce so many dangerous side effects that the world could never come to an agreement on how to implement it. The technology to do geoengineering does not even exist anyway, and there are serious doubts if it is even possible to create a thick enough stratospheric cloud. Of course, there is carbon geoengineering, where humans would work together to plant trees or otherwise positively affect the environment, making the world a better place to live. However, the world has decided not to effectively carry out this line of action with the resources needed. The 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference will start in November, and may take small moves toward mitigation, but so far there have been no global meaningful moves to reduce CO2 emissions, or even the rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, I have concluded that the only solution to global warming is population reduction.

The most efficient method of quickly reducing the global population, and solving the global warming problem, is by nuclear war. A nuclear war between the United States and Russia today, with their nuclear arsenals targeted at cities and industrial areas, would produce tremendous amounts of smoke, blocking out the Sun and making the earth cold, dark, and dry at the surface. This nuclear winter, with summer temperatures below freezing, would wipe out global agriculture, sentencing most people on Earth to death by famine. The current nuclear arsenal can easily produce a full nuclear winter. The plan suggested here can be implemented easily, since only a nuclear weapons ban or nuclear weapons reduction from the US and Russia could prevent nuclear winter, unlikely in the status quo.

Not only would the smoke from the fires cool the planet, but emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would grind to a halt. Even with the modest temporary emission of CO2 from the fires, the global CO2 concentration would gradually go down, keeping climate from coming close to the dangerous level of 2°C above the levels of the early 19th century before industrialization.

There are no real repercussions to this solution. Some may worry about the financial cost of 100 nukes, but this cost is nominal when compared to our current efforts in cleaning up the environment. For example, the EPA budget alone in 2015 is some 44 times bigger than the humble 180 million my plan would cost. This is much more cost efficient, as well as being much more effective.

Not only does causing a nuclear winter solve climate change, it would also push humans to innovate. As the outside world burns, humans will become sick of being holed up in their houses, and will begin to innovate, creating robots to clean up the grimy world. The world will also become more fit, as people will become holed up in their houses with nothing to do. As a result, obesity may no longer be such a problem as well.

Given the lack of repercussions, as well as the numerous benefits, such as ending climate change, kickstarting innovation, costing relatively little, a nuclear winter is a perfect solution to climate change. I have not heard of any such solutions before, and the world would be crazy not to implement this proposal.

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