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We are in an alternate universe where everything is almost exactly the same. The difference is that each person is born with a single plant. Plants cannot be grown or recreated in any way. The only plants in the universe are the ones each person is born with, detached from their body.

This plant provides enough oxygen for one person to be distributed among all people within 100 feet. So if there is only one plant and two people, they will slowly run out of oxygen and die. If there is one plant and 10 people, they will quickly run out of oxygen and die. If there are 100 plants in the same spot, and a single human 101 feet away, they will quickly suffocate.

The plants are average in that they require medium water, medium sunlight, medium soil, etc. The plants can die before their human counterpart if not taken care of. But if their human dies, the plant will die. Aside from this, there is no link between a specific human and their plant (aside from DNA testing).

If a person steals a plant, that stolen plant will provide them oxygen as long as they are within 100 feet of it, but if the theft leads to the suffocation and death of the plants owner, the plant will die.

Animals, including humans, have no need for food. But insects will eat plants.

What sort of organized crime would this create? How would the government control things differently?

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    $\begingroup$ Even for an alternate universe, I find this highly unbelievable. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse $\endgroup$ – Evorlor Apr 10 '15 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ Since one plant can reliably support exactly one human within a 100-ft. radius, and there is exactly one plant per human, then life on Earth will consist of, and only of, humans (and their life-sustaining plants). What do they eat? There's no vegetation, so no herbivores, so no meat (aside from human flesh). $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 '15 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ Happy to help! :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 '15 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @MBurke & Evorlor Agreed. I'm really glad you like my answer, but there are other people that might have some useful input or ideas for you. You can unmark it as the answer and give it a day or so, just to encourage others to contribute. And even if you chose someone elses answer as better, feel free to use/modify/whatever any of my ideas you like! $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Apr 10 '15 at 18:31
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Organized crime jobs would be plant assassination and plantnapping.
Herbicides would be banned by international treaty.

I'm wondering if instead of saying oxygen, it's some other kind of field. Like a radiation or something.
People need it, but other creatures don't. The people also let off a kind of radiation that has a much greater range, and is unique to each person. The plants need that radiation to function, but only the specific signature of their persons radiation will work.
The plants can focus their field, and will focus it on anyone within range, which it determines based on their radiation. So they can see other peoples fields, but it won't sustain them. By focusing their field on more than one person, they have less power per person.

Communities would be formed of large, dense populations to get as much field overlap as possible. In these communities the closer to the physical core of the community you are, the more prestige you have. People on the outskirts would have to be careful since the field would be much thinner. People who'd plants were lost/stolen would live as close to the core as possible, though this would be a constant source of community tension, as "those freeloaders aren't pulling their weight". Any plantless person would want to become as valuable as possible socially, since being pushed out to the fringes would be a slow death. Or if they were particularly useless a quick death by excommunication from the community.

Major research centers would focus on plant field creation, as well as people field mimicking, but these studies would be slowed since they would mostly be done on the terminally ill. No healthy person would risk experimenting on their own plant.

A major crime would be fake plant creation. A person would buy a fake plant if their own died as a way to avoid looking like one of the freeloaders.
Several political scandals occurred when it was discovered that candidates had artificially increased the size of their plants to look better.

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I think that plantnapping would be huge, but plant assassination (herbicide), not so much.

Power comes from the threat of killing off someone's plant, and if you actually kill it, you've pretty much killed the person, which only brings you power by setting an example. In which case, just killing the person does the job just as well, unless they die in some particularly horrible way via herbicide, but they die the same way as anyone who over-waters theirs.

Protection racket would be huge too. "That's a nice bromeliad you've got there, squire. Be a real shame if something happened to it." After a few plants started to disappear, people would pay anything to keep theirs safe. Control the air-conditioning and plumbing in an area to create overnight frost or drought conditions that could affect a large population. Now you can sell your bottled water for whatever price you want.

And maybe there's a second level of real protection. The mob owns an industrial plant that's been able to extract oxygen from some other source and they sell pressurized containers to their very best customers.

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