0
$\begingroup$

Imagine if humans solved the climate crisis by developing plants that grew almost like a cancer. Imagine the growth as exponential, uncontrollable, and any chances of cutting down the trees would be impossible as the cancerous plants developed hard trunks and the time it takes to destroy it is too slow compared to its growth. What would be the possible consequences to the human race, to the environment, and to culture and society?

((Thank you btw))

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Depends on the trees. How fast do they grow, how indestructible are they, how do they reproduce and spread? $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed May 5 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ You need to modify your plants somewhat, but it is doable. There are lots of invasive species that behave a little like this (kudzu, for example). If these were genetically modified for this kind of growth, maybe. Hard wood requires slow energy input, so maybe some kind of fibrous structure. Rapid growth favors less density. Id also suggest multiple plants, as any single plant would be subject to singular means of counteracting them. Also, if these plants were deliberately planted to deal with climate change that would help explain their pervasiveness. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus May 5 at 20:16
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This question is really too broad. This stack doesn't generally try to address open ended "What if ..." questions. You should probably focus it down on a more specific question that can have a clear Right Answer. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat May 5 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ This situation does not appear to be very realistic. Organic plants can't grow that fast as they need a source of carbon and a source of energy both of which are limited. And a chain saw can destroy trees in many orders of magnitude less time than they take to grow. You would need to rely on magic and then the answer depends on how the magic works $\endgroup$ – Slarty May 5 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ Agree that the question is too broad. Even so, do take a look at Ward Moore's Greener Than You Think; it's a mid-20th scifi novel that explores this very question. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas May 6 at 2:16
1
$\begingroup$

It's not pretty: I read a book that followed this idea, only the plants could consume mechanical things and displace them (Sorry, can't remember the name). This is just the stuff I can get a handle on. It would tear apart culture and society, collapse globalism if not industrial civilization, decimate humanity, and completely trash the environment.

  • Your plants would lead to their own mass-extinction event. Anything that couldn't eat one would starve. If the plants were poisonous, they could directly kill animals. Other plants couldn't compete and would be choked out.

  • People would retreat to any region these plants didn't grow well in (deserts, for example). Cities can be like deserts, however. Anything people could do to kill the vegetation would be done (viruses, bacteria, herbicides, flamethrowers, etc.) Eventually, people would figure out something that worked and use it, but this could destroy all the plants and lead to yet another ecological collapse. Islands would be refuges, since it would be a small enough area that intense efforts could probably still eradicate the plants (and because of transportation, see below)

  • You would need to produce food in greenhouses or very protected fields. If any animals can eat the stuff, people would probably start shepherding these animals for food and to dispose of the vegetation (I like the idea of goats, since they are supposed to be able to eat anything; more likely it would be something like grasshoppers) Much of the human race would still starve to death.
  • Transportation would collapse, as roads and train lines became impassable. Transport would be by ship, if at all. I assume these plants aren't aquatic, unless some of them are. Inland, air transportation would be critical (assuming you can somehow make something like butanol from superplant) as the area to keep clear would be small.

  • No transport means no industry, mining, etc.

  • The plants would become the chief resource. Dried superplant power plants would generate electricity. If they could be used as building material, everything would be made of them. If you could convert them somehow into ethanol, butanol, or whatever, this would become the fuel that would run any machines.
  • People would render the environment around them as inhospitable as possible to stop or slow the plants. Everywhere would be a parking lot. Roads when you could have them would be wide to block growth.
| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe not the book you remembered but Day of the Triffids involves fast growing plants taking over the world. Of course they were also carnivorous. $\endgroup$ – intrepidhero May 6 at 0:19
0
$\begingroup$

Rapidly growing invasive trees could threaten the integrity of buildings and other infrastructure. Check out abandoned places like Chernobyl or even neglected parts of cities like Baltimore. Trees can destroy buildings. Vegetation normally takes years to take over an area, but if your world has trees that grow faster than they can be chopped down, defending civilization against their constant onslaught would be a challenge. Other than buildings, you'd have to defend railroads, highways, power lines, water pipes, etc.

Abandoned amusement park in Chernobyl

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Exponential grow, huh? Like, runaway unstoppable invasion.

If the plants still need to consume CO2, you'll get a Snowball Earth in the course of about a century. That will stop them. And likely will stop the humanity too.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.