And then, there are those who frantically try to bring about the end of times themselves. To fulfill the Apocalypse out of some religious scripture, or simply, to get attention. But could a terrorist actually do it? Probably not. However, an enterprising terrorist could always try out one of the following ideas, bringing about a disaster of truly apocalyptic proportions.
1. Paint a pole
Needed: A big amount of dirt
Find a way to blacken the ice of one of the poles (the South pole is best). Cover it with dirt, soot or charcoal. Tainting it black with ordinary paint might take a little longer. A black pole doesn’t reflect sunlight but absorbs warmth -- and melts. The result: climate change, sea level rise, inundations and much annoyment for your enemies.
2. Design a disease
Difficulty: Very hard
Needed: A well-equipped laboratory, biology training
Build a biotech lab in some obscure country and hire some bad guy scientists who share your evil ideas. Now, piece together a version of Ebola that spreads through air. Design a new, upgraded version of the flu, or AIDS. Alter the camel pox virus so that it infects humans. You’ll find all the basics you need to know in the scientific journals and textbooks.
Now comes the tough part. The best way to spread your disease, is to infect yourself and visit the public transportation facilities of the cities you wish to attack. Cough, sneeze and snort at will. Touch every handle and doorknob you encounter with your virus-laden hands. You will see: it’s gonna be fun.
An even more evil way to spread your doomsday disease around, is by letting animals do it for you. This takes a little extra research. Find out what animals carry your germ, preferably animals that don't go ill themselves. Most diseases have such a ‘carrier animal’: SARS, for example, gets carried around from human to human by common house cats.
A carrier animal will make your virus all the more successful, because it will be very hard to detect and even harder to contain the outbreak. Another upshot is that you survive the attack yourself. You might want to stick around to witness the misery you’re causing.
3. Detonate a disaster
Needed: An atomic bomb
Give a terrorist an atomic bomb or a huge amount of explosives, and he will immediately run off to blow up Washington DC. Dumb, of course. There might be better targets.
A well-chosen spot on the Western Arctic ice sheet might accelerate the melting of the pole. This should give you four to six meters of worldwide sea level rise, inundating many vital areas in Europe and the US.
A big enough boom in Yellowstone Park might awaken the now dormant supervolcano under the park, turning half of the US into an ash-covered no man’ s land and bringing ice age to Europe.
Blowing up the already unstable volcanic island of La Palma could prompt a mega-tsunami, which would slosh cities like New York City, Boston and Miami to kingdom come.
A massive explosion on the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico could trigger a vast methane gas eruption, warming up the world’s climate and -- with some luck -- causing a huge firestorm over the US.
And the really good part is: you will find no guards on ocean floors, pole caps and volcanic islands.
4. Smash the dollar
Needed: A large amount of money, a PhD in economy
Forget the Twin Towers, attack the US dollar instead. Become a stock broker, and infiltrate the stock markets. Now, organize a coordinated attack, Al Qaeda-style, on the US dollar. With some luck, you'll see the dollar die before the day is over, bankrupting the US and leaving it in economic shambles.
Know: every second, the US loans 18,000 dollars from abroad. The US national debt has passed the eight trillion dollar mark already. That's 8,000,000,000,000 dollar! The reason is that US citizens and the US government spend more money than they make. So, they're living on borrowed stuff.
This leaves the US dollar very, very vulnerable. One good punch, and the buck might fall over. So, sell a vast amount of dollars, preferably in a coordinated attack from multiple places. This should cause the dollar to take an evil plunge. Other stock brokers and banks should respond and sell their dollars, too. The dollar will plummet even further. Within days or even hours, dollar notes will have become worthless scraps of paper. Americans abroad will find they can no longer pay their bills. Oil producing countries will switch their currency from the dollar to the yen or the euro. Trade will grind to a halt. There may be riots, or wars, or both. You'll have fun!
In the end, the US will be alone in the world, a poor and bankrupt country with high unemployment, no fossil fuels and in need of almost everything. Things will never be the way they were. The yen or the euro will have replaced the dollar as the world's main currency - just like the dollar dethroned the English pound in the 1920s.
5. Crush a current
Needed: Several ships, plenty of salt
It’s a bit of a long shot, but with some luck you may be able to plunge the Western world into an ice age. Now, wouldn’t you just love that?
The only thing you need to do, is disrupting the North Atlantic Current. This ocean current brings warmth from the tropics to Europe and the US. Without it, temperatures would be up to 10 degrees lower, disrupting agriculture and wreaking havoc with the economy of the civilized world. They would hate your guts for it, those westerners.
Already, the North Atlantic Current is weakening. And the best part is: some scientists believe that the current could break down relatively easy. Perhaps you may be able to kill the current yourself!
So, warm up the sea water near Greenland with atomic bombs. Load some ships with salt and sink them in the Atlantic. This should make the sea water locally denser and heavier, putting a 'plug' on the current. Blowing up some well-chosen glaciers on or near the South Pole might do the trick, too.
We warn you: it is all very speculative. But failed crops, severe winters and millions of pissed-off westerners could be your reward.
6. Bring in the plagues
Needed: A library membership, plane tickets
If you’re a terrorist with a small budget, you could always try to unleash an agricultural plague of apocalyptic proportions.
Already, there are many pests around, causing billions of dollars of damage. Locusts, rabbits, parasites, fungi, worms and insects often become a plague when they’re introduced to a place where they're not supposed to be. The critters encounter no natural enemies, multiply wildly, and become a plague. That’s why Australia and New-Zealand have their rabbit problem and the US has its boll weavil.
So, study agricultural diseases. Track down some obscure Asian fungus or insect, and bring it over. Smuggle some sinister bird disease to the country you like to attack, and introduce it to its chicken farms. Bring in foot-and-mouth disease, or mad cow disease. Introduce weird weeds, exotic moths, sex-crazy rodents, hungry beetles and obscure insects. It might take a while before your Apocalypse kicks in. But boy, will it be some mess.
7. Shortcut a state
Needed: Explosives, wire, a high-altitude airplane
Can't afford an atomic bomb? Don't panic. There's always 'the poor man's atomic bomb'. That's a device called an 'electromagnetic pulse weapon', or simply e-bomb.
E-bombs are quite easy to make. Just take a big 'sausage' of explosives, wrap coil around it, and put a magnetic field to the coil. Should you decide to detonate your e-bomb high up in the atmosphere, you should shortcut every piece of electric equipment below you. The bigger the bomb, the bigger the damage. It'll be fun.
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