The 22 wildly successful Marvel movies led up to Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame with the villain Thanos. This article will discuss the plan that Thanos had and why the plan was stupid as well as evil. This article will have some spoilers.
The movies are over a year old and are completely fictional stories. Here is why they are relevant. My 15-year old son has described classmates and online discussions where people debate if Thanos was worthy (aka good) by having the goal of restoring the environment.
The Thanos plan was to use infinite power to kill half of all life in the universe in order for ecosystems to be relieved of overpopulation stress.
Killing half of all life in the Universe is not just evil but super-evil. Of course, the Marvel movies are fictional stories but plans that involve the death of many to most people are not uncommon.
There are crazy mass murderers like the Christchurch and El Paso shooters. The combined to kill 73 people. They had manifestos that ranted against the destructive impact of people on the natural world.
There are many people who are fixated on overpopulation. David Attenborough makes TV shows, documentaries and often hosts the shows. Attenborough is also a natural historian.
David Attenborough says that every problem on this finite planet becomes more difficult and ultimately impossible to solve with even more people.
Many anthropologists say that the carrying capacity of humans on the planet without agriculture is about 10 million. This population was reached about 10,000 years ago. People lived together in small bands of hunters and gatherers aka hunter-gatherers.
The limit of the world for human population is clearly not 10 million. There are 7.8 billion people now.
If the global hunter-gatherer population was 20 million, then the Thanos solution would be to kill 10 million people. In hunter-gatherer times population levels and population growth would fluctuate. A local region would reach over-capacity and then some people would starve. So there would be no lasting benefit to temporarily killing half the people or half of life.
If David Attenborough were correct then ten million hunter-gatherers with modern technology would solve world problems better than 7.8 billion people. Also, getting to ten million people would involve wiping out or transition to a world with only the population of London.
You can wipe out a lot of life and if the resources are still there then life will bounce back. This can be seen in bacteria or mold on a wet sink. You can use Lysol to kill 99%. But if there is still an environment to support life (ie it is still dirty and has food) then the population will bounce back in 7 doublings. This could be 7 hours or less for some bacteria.
Carrying Capacity Changes
What has changed in the last ten thousand years? Technology changed the global carrying capacity.
Agriculture was not a one-time revolution. There was the development of irrigation. There was the development of mass farming with harvesting and tilling machines. There was the green revolution with better seeds and industrial production of fertilizer.
By the late 1800s, large cities all around the world were drowning in horse manure. London had over 50,000 horses drawing carts and moving people. Each horse will make 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. The manure spread typhoid fever and other diseases. In 1894, there was a prediction published in the Times that by 1944 London would be buried in 9 feet of manure.
The Thanos solution to this problem would have been killing half of the people and half of the horses. The actual solution was to change to bicycles and cars.
London had 6.5 million people in 1900 and now has 9.3 million people.
Greenhouses are 300-year-old technology. Ninety percent of the world’s plastic greenhouses are in China. In 2020, China has 3.3 million hectares of greenhouses. This is up from 1 million hectares in 2013.
The world’s arable land is about 1.4 billion hectares, out of a total of around 5 billion hectares of land used for agriculture.
Greenhouses can be 10 to 30 times more productive than regular farmland. Adding 1.4 million hectares of greenhouses every year would replace 1 to 3% of the production of regular farmland.
Greenhouses can be 2-15 times more efficient with water usage.
If Greenhouse production were increased by 10 times and it was for 20 times more efficient than farmland greenhouses then agricultural production would be doubled within 25 years.
The resources that China uses to build greenhouses is a tiny fraction of the amount used to build residences, offices and factories.
China adds about 1 million hectares of buildings every year. However, these buildings are 100 to 1000 times more expensive per hectare than greenhouses.
Lowering Impact on Environment Without Killing People or Reducing Population
If fossil fuel usage was replaced with nuclear power or solar power then the environmental impact could be reduced over 100 times.
Vehicles could be made more efficient. We do not need to have mostly one person in each 2-ton vehicle. Ridesharing, self-driving and electrification can easily make transportation 4 times more efficient. Four people in every vehicle. Highly advanced systems could achieve 100 times more efficiency.
SOURCES- Historic UK, WE-Forum
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com