The Thanos Solution Is Stupid

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.

Feeding 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,

54 thoughts on “The Thanos Solution Is Stupid”

  1. At a snap of the fingers he halved the universe of people. The question I want to know is how you decide who ceases to exist and who doesn't? If it was for food shortages, maybe he should eliminate all the fat and tall people.

  2. No. Voluntary eugenics is providing everyone with state-subsidized genetic counseling and embryo-selection. Also providing financial support and free fertility treatments for those who make suitable parents. People who would not make suitable parents would be provided with free long-term contraception and sterilization.

    Involuntary Eugenics is more effective, but politically impossible in democratic countries. I suppose China will eventually use involuntary eugenics.

  3. Plants are actually very inefficient at turning sunlight into food. I think something like 6% was the best reported. Scientists are modifying the process and making plants more efficient. They have already improved plant efficiency by over 27% and 50% is not far fetched:
    That is just massive. That means we can support billions more people right there…unless people are stupid and reject genetic modification. And they have not been working on this very long. I think 50% is quite doable.
    And that is without greenhouses, advanced fertilizers, and supplementary light.
    And this is small potatoes. We are going to be able to do a lot more: cultured food, synthetic food. Even modifying ourselves to require less nutrients and calories with the same or better performance.

  4. So more brain power justifies destroying the environment? Planet Earth entirely covered with one huge mega city?????

  5. I’ve been very actively fighting Mars Direct/First/Only since I read O’Neill in 1977. At that time, *the* question was whether Mars should be quick Apollo style, fast enuf for politicians to support, or the obviously superior Moon then Mars we now see as the only real way, except for perhaps Musk. Until recently, I would argue for Moon then Mars instead of going directly to O’Neill, hoping to at least get started on the Moon, which is finally happening, after 40 year delay. Now for the real truth, O’Neill. It does not matter how Mars is paid for, it CANNOT make a profit! It is not the right place to settle.

  6. If you are referring to Zubrin’s plan, that should be paid with taxpayer’s
    money, if you are referring to Musk’s plan, that should be paid with
    Starlink’s, Tesla’s, SpaceX’s profits.

  7. More population = more brainpower, in the last 50-70 years humanity managed to staff a trillion of man-hours on research and development to solve several high impact issues. As result lifespan increased and the amount of people that lives in extreme poverty decreased by 60% in the last 30 years alone.

  8. yep, planets are what high level civilizations dismantle to build efficient habitats. Otherwise it is like considering a mountain useful only if it has a cave suitable to host a tribe

  9. probably somewhere in the middle: reduce part of the impact and have sufficient amount of brainpower to develop the next technological step that improves again efficiency by a factor of 100

  10. That is true! Now, consider Mars First/Direct/Only. Try to come up with a worse plan, from profit point of view, I challenge you. Almost anything else would leave some infrastructure. Mars First/Direct/Only does not even help Mars First/Direct/Only II.

  11. If space solar can be made convenient it will be done, no doubt.
    Same for extraterrestrial mining. These are the first obligated steps
    to transition from unrealistic to realistic., because they are the only
    things that can make money, instead of burning it.

  12. If technology could increase efficiency by a factor of 100, would you rather have 10 billion people with 99% less environmental impact, or the same environmental impact, but 1 trillion people?

  13. “Voluntary eugenics”? So someone (me of course) gets to tell someone else (you, not me) that they should not have children – and those others are supposed to smile, nod, and get sterilized?

  14. “the mass of such settlements dwarves anything that was ever constructed by man” This indicates perhaps the most common misconception about O’Neill that I see, amongst those who have some familiarity, that Island 3 is *the* plan. Humans come after Space Solar, for example, in *the book*. I watched them dig up the dirt in a construction project to the extent that it would clearly have been easier to make glass or aluminum support in Space. If we were there!

  15. I reprinted an ad for SSI (O’Neill’s Space Studies Institute) in the ’70s, and one side was mostly a graphic of a proposed settlement (smaller than Island 3, the one everyone has seen), with a large ship and, yes, the Eiffel Tower to scale for comparison. Easy to imagine in 0 g. While you don’t actually *say* ISRU, that was O’Neill’s answer to launch costs, and you do imply its use. ISRU is also the answer to scarcity of the material itself on Earth, even if launch were free, clearly the case for large settlements, clearly the case for trillions of people living therein. The main thing O’Neill presents is a cost revelation. We cannot afford to stay on a planet! Now, you are correct that getting going is costly, but we have wasted 40 farking years not even gathering the basic facts about the Moon, for example, the first thing O’Neill sez to do. And Space Solar is the biggest economic project possible now, power for the planet! As O’Neill proposed. Oh, and Greta would approve, IMHO.

  16. Brian always gives me the impression he’s not happy unless the human population keeps increasing and planet Earth ends up looking like Coruscant. I don’t get it since this would lead to the destruction of all the Earth’s ecosystems and most of the non human species on the planet. Am I misreading his intent or just misunderstanding his goal?

  17. Well, you know, when that book came out I considered it ridicolous.
    it contemplated building mile wide space stations with cities in it when the cost of putting something in LEO neared the cost of its weight in
    gold. The remedies proposed in the book, like the shuttle-C, are woefully
    inadequate. Now, with New Space and realistic expectations of less
    than $50/kg to LEO, that book entered the realm of possible plausibility.
    While O’Neill shrewdly underlines the possible savings of such undertakings, which come from abundant solar power and absence
    of weight, it lightly ignores that the mass of such settlements dwarves
    anything that was ever constructed by man. Here we are talking
    about BILLIONS of tons of materials to be extracted, refined, machined
    in the desired shape and modeled as needed, all while working
    in harsh conditions in space, or on the Moon, or on the asteroids.
    And if it it’s true that there is no weight, there is always inertia.
    The Eiffel tower would be a toothpick in comparison to such a job.
    If costs weren’t prohibitive, that would mean we ‘d already have reached
    a post-scarcity economy, from a long time.

  18. Thanos had the power to tera-form every planet in the Universe. He could have opened portals to the Multi-verse. Heck, just providing perfect family planning ability to every female in the Universe would have done more good in the long term.

    Europe might have lost 1/2 of its population during the Black Death. How long did it take to come back up to the same population level? I have read only 80-150 years depending on the area. Within a few centuries the population of the Universe would have been back to the same level.

    Heck, you could have put the Universe on a “time loop” with every year repeating itself. The population would stay the same for all eternity.

  19. Thanos is an example of today’s left; destroy things to get what you want. The solution is free market capitalism. It’s about growing the pie and making it bigger. That does not come from top down diktats and central planning committee thinking. Thanos should have chosen to make more of what he thought people lacked, not destroy consumption. It’s like Obama claiming that Americans shouldn’t use so much air conditioning. There just isn’t enough to go around, so your life has to suck too. No, make better A/C. Lower the cost of electricity. Make things more efficient. The free market does all of this!

  20. I enjoyed most of the Marvel movies but Thanos’s plan just pushed suspension of disbelief too hard. It’s ludicrous to suppose that an entity with the access to knowledge, the intelligence and the power of Thanos as otherwise demonstrated in the movies could be so damn stupid as to believe that killing half of all life would make any difference at all. It’s so ridiculous it makes you wonder, “are they (the people that made the movie) that stupid or do they think I’m that stupid?”

  21. Because Batman’s policy of beating criminals, but leaving them alive and whole, and handing them over to a revolving door legal system means that the bad guys are back on the streets killing and robbing again every 6 months.
    At the very least he should do some “extraordinary rendition” style shipping them off to a location where the staff don’t bonk the inmates and let them escape.
    So not Arkham asylum.
    And not Melbourne:

  22. Well, of course it’s stupid: They had to shoe horn in an environmental message, but Thanos was the bad guy, and if he’d chosen a solution that would work, he wouldn’t work as a bad guy.

    The heroes’ response was stupid, too: Half of the population disappears, finally after years people have regrouped and adapted. Now you drop the missing people back in. What comes next?

    Famine, because why would they have been maintaining food production and supplies for twice the population they had? If the people had reappeared immediately, OK, but after years? Disaster!

    The original comic book Thanos had a non-stupid motivation: He was a complete sociopath who had fallen in love with the mystical incarnation of Death herself, and thought half the population of the universe would be a courting gift that would get her attention. Too complicated and subtle for movie producers, though, only a comic book could handle a theme like that…

  23. Its not overpopulation, its over consumption. Killing of the US population, 4.25% of the world total, would have far more beneficial impact than a random 50% of the rest of the world. The problem is that a targeted approach would be deemed to be racist. Maybe Thanos didn’t want the negative press?

  24. One thing we could do to preserve the environment is to start basing our tax system upon saving it and preserving resources, including desirable locations, in a Georgist fashion. The present and future is in the cities – despite the temporary setback of the so-called pandemic. People should pay near full rental value for locations in the most desirable area, to encourage highest and best use (we have to get rid of self-limiting NIMBY zoning too). Then, untax wages, sales, and true capital like buildings to get more of all of those. Don’t provide near free road and utility expansion to the hinterlands, but make rural populations pay for it to discourage unproductive and wasteful living out there, as well as habitat loss and stupid never-burn forest policies that only encourage greater fires eventually. Cities pay more than they get back while rural areas take more than they give. For now, we need remote areas for natural resources and food, but this too can be concentrated (Greenhouses are just one example). And we need mass transit, not just more cars, autonomous or otherwise. We need rational understanding of risk, of which Covid-19 is small, while nuclear war, the top 10 killers of people, and climate change (eventually) is big.

  25. Yes, Thanos’ solution is dumb (why kill half of *all life*, including endangered species, plants etc.)? He could have just doubled all resources, or whatever. But the earth is over-populated compared to what is optimal. Tech. progress was faster 100 years ago with lower populations, so more people doesn’t necessarily mean faster progress. Europe was able to move the Malthusian isocline because of the Black Death wiping out 1/3 of population. Now the world population is 50% 3rd world overpopulation and 50% 1st/2nd world depopulation… The solution is voluntary eugenics, embryo selection, plus space colonization.

  26. Probably need to add an exception for the commenting website (, IIRC). The adblocker thinks it’s an ad server.

  27. Of course Futurist Wang, the Thanos fix is openly idiotic, except to our Bauzuo pals (eyes rolling).
    Instead of looking for direct material fixes for problems the instead choose a holy narrative to guide them, until a policy crashes completely. Witness the current absolute failure if the California energy policy of promising Green tech, without it ever to prove itself successfully.

  28. Yeah, it’s stupid. Clearly, he should have decided which beings to remove based on a Karmic system, bad Karma being lethal, good Karma being life saving. Fall on the wrong side of the old scale of Karma, and lights out!

  29. Thanos isn’t stupid, the writers are stupid. Worse yet Thanos is a fictional Characters but the writers are real and do to some extent influence some people.

  30. That is what I turned on. For whatever reason, I cannot comment while it is running. I just get an arrow over the “send” not the hand.

  31. This site is becoming rapidly unusable. The audioburt videos do not close now. And if I block them, then I can’t comment.

  32. Next on NBF: This analysis shows why it is stupid to dress as a giant bat and go around beating up criminals.

  33. Yes Brian, overpopulation is stupid. Anybody with a functioning brain can see through many of the environmentalists arguments.

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