Blue sky thinking. Taking a creative approach. The business world is full of appreciative lingo for people who can deliver innovative solutions to serious problems. Sometimes, such crazy, pie-in-the-sky ideas really work. More frequently, they’re simply just crazy. Here are ten times countries and companies abandoned commonsense in the face of serious issues.
Problem: Australia is Worried about Climate Change
The Crazy Solution: Shoot a million camels.
Climate change is one of the biggest issues of our time. Plenty of people are rightly worried that we can’t cut back on our carbon consumption quick enough to stop a climate apocalypse. But whereas most scientists are talking about using tech to save our asses, Australia has come up with a better solution. The government wants to shoot one million camels from a helicopter.
It’s a rarely-discussed aspect of climate change that a huge amount of it is caused by large mammals farting. No, seriously: each camel on Earth releases 100 pounds of methane every year, equivalent to 2,500 pounds of carbon dioxide in terms of atmospheric damage. Since Australia is overrun with camels, in 2011 the government seriously considered a mass-culling of the beasts to combat global warming. Incredibly, scientists thought the basic plan was a good idea. However, they did point out that Australians would be better off shooting their 20 million cows. Turns out the average bovine farts even more than the average camel.
Problem: South Korea’s Crazy Suicide Rate
The Crazy Solution: Hold mass funerals for people who are still alive.
South Korea’s suicide rate is nuts. An insane work culture combined with family pressure and a bad attitude toward older people means just about everyone is at risk of killing themselves. In 2015, some companies decided to do something about the death rate among their employees, by which we mean they organized mass funerals where workers were interred in caskets and forced to listen to speeches about their untimely passing.
The idea is a bit like It’s a Wonderful Life. The employees play ‘dead’ for an afternoon, and get to eavesdrop on their own funerals, hopefully finding out how much better the world is with them in it (though we’re sure at least one prankster messed with the concept by standing next to the coffin and declaring ‘thank God that guy’s dead!’). According to some, it really seems to have worked. The Guardian quoted a guy who said the experience of lying in a coffin had made him realize he needed to spend more time with his family.
Problem: Starvation in North Korea
The Crazy Solution: Open shops selling human poop.
A hop across the border, North Korea is one of the nastiest, bleakest places on Earth. Since the 1990s, huge swathes of the population have consistently been on the brink of starvation. Those lucky enough to own a scrap of land have taken to growing their own vegetables to subsidize their breadline existence. There’s only one problem: fertilizer is extremely hard to come by in North Korea. The solution some enterprising locals came up with? Open shops selling human poop.
In 2011, defectors to South Korea reported that one of the hottest item on the North Korean black market was human poop. A bag of the stuff changed hands for staggering amounts of money, as it allowed a better crop yield. Sadly, on a North Korean diet, it’s also impossible to generate enough poop of your own. Enter the poop shops, which pay people to do the pooping for them. It sounds crazy and gross, but when your choices are pay for man-poop or starve to death, we’re gonna guess 100 percent of you would pick the poop every time.
Problem: Japanese Women are Stressed at Work
The Crazy Solution: Hire hunks with tissues to gently wipe their tears away.
Japan’s conservative society isn’t exactly female friendly. While women are respected in public, they’re still expected to stay at home popping out babies and barely seeing their friends. In the workplace, things are even worse. The attitude is kinda like America in the Mad Men era, only with less snappy dressing.
As a result, the growing cohort of young women who are determined to have careers are finding the macho male work environment super-stressful. The Japanese government has even called it a national health problem. Last year, one company came up with a bizarrely sexist solution. Career-focused women can now hire hunky men to come round their house after work with a box of soft tissues and ‘expertly’ wipe the stress-tears from their cheeks.
Leaving aside the strangely-sexist solution to a sexist problem, the tissue men are proving popular. The company only started in late 2015, and already it has plenty of people on its rosters. Part of that may be to do with the price. You can get a full two-hours of hot guy eye-wiping time for as little as $60.
Problem: Russia’s Crazy-Low Birthrate
The Crazy Solution: A national sex day and special prizes for women who get knocked up.
Russia’s birthrate is dangerously low. That’s not hyperbole: if Russians don’t start getting busy in the sack soon, their country’s economy will implode under the weight of too many old people. Since 2006, the Kremlin has done plenty of crazy stuff to tackle the crisis, including organizing a hip-hop concert that was meant to feature Putin onstage with Boyz II Men. But the craziest of all has to be National Conception Day.
Held on September 12, couples are given a free day’s holiday for the express purpose of going home to breed like rabbits. Any woman who manages to give birth exactly nine months later will be put forward to win a fabulous award. Previous prizes have included 4×4 jeeps, an apartment, and, um, a fridge (sucks to be the winner that year). By some accounts it has even worked. Russia’s birthrate – while still worryingly low – is now climbing higher than it has been in years.
The Problem: The US Electoral College Makes No Sense
The Crazy Solution: Keep the college, make fifty new states.
US politics is clearly mad. Anyone who disagrees just needs to look at the electoral college. Thanks to the way the population is spread out, some states wield disproportionate influence.
For example, the most-populous state has 66 times the population of the smallest, yet only gets 18 times as many votes. This is clearly unfair and people have been talking of changing it for decades. In 2013, mathematician Neil Freeman came up with a solution that was both practical and utterly crazy. He proposed scrapping the current 50 states and replacing them with 50 new ones that had identical populations.
Freeman’s proposal went so far that he actually drew up a map for 50 states with a population of 6.175m each. As you can imagine, it was guaranteed to ruffle feathers. Alaska and half of Oregon were combined into a single super state, while NYC was split in two. The entire Western US was basically reduced to three gigantic states, while the eastern seaboard was split up into a crazy patchwork. It’s unlikely to ever happen, but points for thinking so far outside the box that the box itself isn’t even a blip on the barren horizon of crazy stretching out all around you.
The Problem: Danish Towns are Closing Under-Attended Schools
The Crazy Solution: Strike a deal with the government to make as many babies as humanly possible.
It’s a problem people living in small towns everywhere will recognize. At some point, the child population declines so much that the council decides to simply shut the local school and save some money. In most cases, all you can do is complain. But the citizens of Thisted in Denmark came up with a different plan. They struck a deal with the local government to procreate as quickly as possible and get the demand for school services back up again.
The Guardian reported that the town’s young couples had around five years to get as many new babies born as possible. If there were enough, the council would keep the schools open and maybe even open some new services. It seems quite an ask just to keep a local school running, but hey, there’s that famous Danish civic pride for you.
The Problem: The British Royal Family are Supposedly Cruel to Animals
The Crazy Solution: Protest this cruelty by eating a Corgi.
Fox hunting is the sport of Britain’s upper-classes. Although hunting with dogs has been illegal since 2004, the sport itself remains wildly popular. There are frequent accusations of cruelty against participants, sometimes serious, sometimes spurious. One of the latter came in 2007, when Prince Phillip was reported to have beaten a fox to death.
The Prince was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the message didn’t seem to reach animal rights activist and performance artist Mark McGowan. Incensed at the cruelty he perceived in the royal family’s treatment of animals, he decided to protest by cooking and eating a corgi.
Corgis are the breed of dog favored by the Queen herself. McGowan evidently wanted to show the royals how it felt to see their favorite animal pointlessly abused. Unsurprisingly, the public took one look at the man protesting animal cruelty by eating an animal and decided to ignore him.
The Problem: Terrorists Might Use Drones to Attack Cities
The Crazy Solution: Set up a taskforce of death-defying eagles to attack them in mid-air.
This solution isn’t so much crazy (though it’s definitely that) as it is plain awesome. Publicly-available drones have become a major worry in some countries. Not only is there fear they might crash into and bring down planes, but it’s now thought terrorists might start using them to launch remote attacks on major cities.
Dutch police and the London MET have a solution that’s all shades of amazing. They want to train up an elite corps of eagle warriors to patrol the skies and take down unauthorized drones.
Mad as it sounds, the plan has already gained some traction. Dutch scientists have proved an eagle can easily destroy a drone without harming itself. As proof, they’ve even released a video that’s basically the most-awesome thing we’ve seen involving an eagle all day (you can find it by clicking that last link).
The Problem: Togo is a Repressive Dictatorship
The Crazy Solution: No sex for anyone. Ever.
Togo is a tiny strip of land in Western Africa where “human rights” are the punchline to a particularly depressing joke. Ruled by a father-son dictator combo for 48 years, its commitment to democracy is non-existent. Rather than start a revolution, Togolese women recently came up with what might be a winning solution. They decided they would stop having sex until their men got their act together and replaced the government.
The sex strike called for the replacement of the president, and attempted to capitalize on men’s lustful nature and presumed lack of access to porn to effect democratic change. Insane as this sounds, it’s not completely unique. In the once-violent Colombian town of Pereira, women organized a 2006 sex strike to stop the killings. The murder rate immediately dropped by 26.5%.
As far as Togo is concerned, the results may have been less dramatic. The same autocratic president is still in power following 2015’s elections. On the other hand, the EU and African Union claimed the election was the most open and transparent in Togo’s history. A win for the sisterhood, maybe?