6 Times Mankind Tackled Problems Like Insane Supervillains
The world has a lot of problems, but at least a lot of very smart people are working hard to fix them. It just so happens that sometimes those smart people are also insane. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Anyway, here are some of the bonkers ideas that misguided geniuses have come up with to save us all (even if they had to kill every last one of us to do it).
"Let's Put Hippos In The Mississippi To Eat Unwanted Flowers!"
Invasive species can completely destroy an ecosystem. So when the Mississippi River became infested with hyacinth plants brought from Japan in 1884, locals came up with the insane solution of importing another invasive species to solve the problem. Specifically, they wanted to import the deadliest African mammal to prowl Old Man River in order to get rid of some flowers.
Hippopotamuses will absolutely murder a human being if they feel the need to, but they also eat ridiculous amounts of hyacinth.
So a plan was hatched to import the terrifying beasts to Louisiana, which attracted the attention of Congressman Robert Broussard. In 1910, he introduced the "Hippo Bill," which asked for $250,000 to import hippos to the American mainland, because the ways politicians tried to screw us used to be a whole lot funnier.
The bill eventually died out amidst baffled criticism from the Department of Agriculture, robbing Americans of one more chance to be hunted down and trampled by a pissed-off three-ton murder machine. But the proposition was serious enough that The Washington Post assumed it would pass. And Louisiana currently spends $2 million a year battling the still-ongoing hyacinth problem. Hmm. While it's true they couldn't handle hippos in the past, surely now ...
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"Let's Use Nuclear Explosions For Fracking!"
Fracking is a dangerous industrial process which also sounds like a cartoon character swear word. It's pretty controversial, given how environmentally destructive it is. But the modern process looks like a Greenpeace tickle party compared to the old-school version, which involved goddamn nukes.
In 1967 New Mexico, the Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. Bureau of Mines, and the El Paso Natural Gas Company all teamed up to test the deceptively cutely named Gasbuggy. They lowered this 29-kiloton nuclear device 4,000 feet into the Earth, then pulled the trigger.
The explosion set off fractures for 200 feet in all directions, which dramatically increased natural gas production, albeit at the cost of putting a massive strain on American / Mole People relations.
Don't worry, nuclear fracking was stopped ... six entire human years later. After many more experiments and tests, and two full-blown underground explosions in Colorado, "Project Plowshare" ended due to concerns over cost-effectiveness, not one scientist suddenly waking up in the middle of the night and going, "Wait, what the fuck are we doing?!"
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"Let's Dust The Sky With Diamonds To Fight Climate Change!"
Everyone who doesn't have their news screamed at them agrees that climate change is bad. And in order to combat it, some scientists want to start playing Pimp My Atmosphere. The basic idea -- pumping a sulphate spray or dust into the air in order to mimic the effects of volcanic explosions and thus cool down the Earth -- has been around for a while. However, climate scientists have recently come up with a decidedly classier version: filling the sky with hundreds of thousands of tons of diamond dust, which would both reflect some of the sun's energy and let the planet know that we're serious about taking our relationship to the next level.
Stopping climate change with aerosolized diamonds sounds like it would be ridiculously expensive, but David Keith, a Harvard climate scientist, thinks 450,000 tons of dust could be procured in a few decades at a cost of only $5 per person on Earth. And really, isn't that a small price to pay for the ability to sneeze diamonds?
"Let's Bomb The River Until It Does What We Want!"
Russia and China both have:
A) Large rivers that get blocked up with ice in winter, which causes flooding near populated areas, and ...
B) governments that don't give a shit and answer to no one.
So both of their solutions are obviously "attacking nature with overwhelming military force."
In 2016, Russia's Sukhona River was clogged and overflowing, so the government ordered bombing runs to unblock it, using the same planes that had recently been dropping bombs on Syria.
Not to be outdone, China underwent a massive 2014 bombing campaign to unfreeze the Yellow River. It took 24 bombs to get a confirmed kill on winter, proving once again that Mother Nature doesn't stand a chance against a belligerent military.
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"Let's Get Rid Of Invasive Carp With A Strain Of Super Herpes!"
Carp were first transported to Australia in the 19th century, back when introducing invasive species was more of a hobby than a problem. The carp population exploded in the 1960s, and they've since completely overtaken several marine ecosystems, choking out most other fish species. Fighting them costs the government up to 500 million didgeridollars a year. So it's understandable that the incredibly Australian-named Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce wants to wipe out them all out. It is ... somewhat less understandable that he wants to do so by using a strain of carp herpes. Oh, and the strain was first discovered in Israel, because if you're going to unleash a plague upon the land, you might as well make it biblical.
It's estimated that the plan could eradicate up to 95 percent of Australia's carp, but there are some concerns about side effects. In addition to creating a disgusting and smelly cleanup process, some scientists speculate that it would also cause a "blackwater" event, in which the sudden lack of carp leads to oxygen depletion in the water, killing just ... everything.
In other words, Barnaby Joyce might be the man who kills all the fish in Australia with virulent herpes, which is at the very least going to make one hell of a headline.
"Let's House Refugees By Merging Africa And Europe!"
Bringing the world together is a noble goal ... right up until people start taking it literally. But that was Herman Sorgel's plan to solve the refugee crisis that emerged in the aftermath of World War I. Sorgel thought it would be a brilliant idea to drain the Mediterranean Sea in order to eliminate the division between Africa and Europe, essentially merging the two continents while uniting Europe in a peaceful project. Because today's absurdly villainous movie plots are yesterday's earnest proposals.
Sorgel dubbed the new supercontinent "Atlantropa." He envisioned dams at the Strait of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, and between Sicily and Tunisia, splitting the Mediterranean into two basins and "reclaiming" an area the size of France from the sea, as if the sea routinely stole land from humans.
The whole idea sounds crazy, but architects, engineers, and even politicians took it seriously at the time. A whole movement to enact it existed all the way up until Sorgel's death in 1952. Sorgel's plan only really fell apart when the cost -- which would have included the construction of a massive international power grid -- somehow proved extremely prohibitive. So Germany rolled with a different crazy, world-changing postwar plan instead. But that's another article ...
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