There, I Fixed It brings us an account of Atlantropa, an engineering project phenomenal in its scope: build a landmass by — partially — draining the Mediterranean Sea. This would have exposed a whole section of seabed, linking Europe and Africa and opening up new land for use. As the blog explains:
The idea was to create a sort of Utopia that bridges the gap (both literally and figuratively) between Europe and Africa. Sörgel and his followers were growing sick of recent European and Cosmopolitan trends of racism, post-colonialism, division and violence. Expanding the borders of multiple countries while enticing millions towards a common goal would bring together an unprecedented unity between hundreds of differing cultures.
To achieve the goal of creating Atlantropa — which included damming up the Straits of Gibraltar to lower the sea level and power hydroelectric stations — the project would required millions of laborers and over a century of effort. It also would have wrought havoc with the existing ecosystem, nearly draining the Adriatic Sea and turning beachfront property all around the Mediterranean into suddenly much less desirable real estate.
Next time your mad genius needs a scheme to not only shock the heroes, but make them say, “Actually, some good could come of this,” you could borrow a page from Herman Sörgel and his dreams of Atlantropa.
It reminds me more than a bit of Adventure!‘s Baron von Zorbo and his belief that the future of the human race lay in leaving the earth to recover from their depredations, living over it in flying cities. He had not only the mad, radical idea, but the resources to bring it to life. Antagonists need to have passion to make their goal reality.