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Questions tagged [environment]

For questions about an environment or aspects of it such as geographical, atmospheric or climate.

118
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9answers
34k views

Releasing a T-Rex into a modern ecosystem wouldn't be that bad, right?

T-Rex Forever LLC has a mating pair of Tyrannosaurus rex. They're a bit shady on how they got them, time travel, cloning...they won't say. Third-party biologists and paleontologists have examined ...
101
votes
28answers
25k views

How fast can I flood the Netherlands entirely and permanently?

I want the Netherlands to be flooded entirely, and I want the event to be of such a scale that it goes faster than hydroengineering can keep up with. This will mean that I need a sea level rise of ...
67
votes
10answers
18k views

Is there a real life substance like movie acid?

Is there a real life chemical or compound that exhibits the characteristics of stereotypical movie acid? From what I know of most acid, it is usually clear or just a little cloudy, but I'm looking ...
54
votes
11answers
10k views

How could mushroom/fungi forests be possible?

I am currently working on a setting which is fantasy but based around a soft approach to speculative biology. It is a tidally locked world with the habitable region based around the terminator ...
53
votes
24answers
10k views

What could make an area of land be accessible only at certain times of the year?

I've looked around here a bit, but I haven't managed to find a post that really answers my question (though if there is one, please let me know). I'm trying to write a story where the two main ...
49
votes
27answers
13k views

If a large space ship crashes on a planet, what could kill passengers without obliterating the ship?

The situation I'm considering is as follows: A large research vessel with a crew of about 100-200 attempts to land on a potentially habitable planet, but something goes wrong during the descent. A ...
45
votes
8answers
8k views

Could humanity survive the sun going dark?

The sun inexplicably ceases to give light. It's still there and continues to have a gravitational pull keeping us in orbit. The solar system continues to operate as normal, but the sun has gone dark ...
43
votes
3answers
5k views

So we glassed it, now what?

"Glassing" a planet is a common ultimate tactic in Science Fiction, basically it consists in using high power energy weapons to destroy all life on the planet and reducing the soil and rock of the ...
41
votes
22answers
11k views

Can guns be rendered unusable by changing the atmosphere?

I have an idea for a story in a post-apocalyptic setting where guns and other explosive devices unusable or otherwise impractical. Is it possible to do this by changing the atmosphere (either by ...
41
votes
10answers
3k views

How would societal development be impacted if humans were not an apex predator?

We are used to a world where humans are basically an apex predator; we don't really need to worry much about becoming some other animal's next meal. If that wasn't the case, and humans had to be wary ...
40
votes
8answers
20k views

Can plants survive without animals?

Could a world with no animals whatsoever (not even insects, no humans, etc) still have plant life? These plants do not have to include all the plants in our world, or even any of the same plants. I ...
40
votes
10answers
7k views

What social and environmental factors would create a culture where wives had more than one husband

On Earth ancient cultures developed marriage system of polygamy where one husband had multiple wives. What environmental or social differences would you need to create a world with an ancient ...
38
votes
14answers
7k views

In a post-fossil fuel economy, what could natural gas pipelines be used for?

The United States (as well as many other countries) is covered in a vast network of tubes: These tubes vary greatly in diameter. Some could hardly fit a baseball, while others are large enough to ...
37
votes
9answers
11k views

What are the effects of slicing the Earth in half with a particle beam?

Scenario: An exact copy of our world is sliced in half by a particle beam. The beam has a diameter of 40 meters and moves at a speed of 0.999c. The beam slices the earth from top to bottom in 600 ...
37
votes
18answers
7k views

Benefits of or reasons why a species would have only one eye?

Traditionally, a Cyclops has one eye, as well as some other aliens in fiction. My question is simple: Would there be any situations, Earth-like or otherwise, where a creature would benefit from ...
37
votes
7answers
4k views

How long can an abandoned, semi-sheltered computer remain bootable?

Simply put, what's the expiration date of a computer? The reason I ask is for the sake of a society recovering from some sort of cataclysm and trying to reclaim lost technology. However, I could also ...
35
votes
13answers
9k views

Is a food chain without plants plausible?

Suppose there was a world on which evolution and natural selection took an odd turn and never produced an organism that could be considered a plant by our modern definition, but which still produces ...
35
votes
12answers
8k views

What is the next dominant species?

If humans didn't exist, what species would populate the earth? Would an animal gain human-like intelligence if humans weren't here? What animal would gain dominance?
33
votes
21answers
8k views

If we can have “all the comforts of home” in space why would we settle planets?

This is something that is starting to bug me, I'm creating a universe in which space travel is cheap and comfortable and space habitats can be built roomy enough that no-one actually needs to live on ...
33
votes
16answers
6k views

How could mankind of ancient times cause significant climate change?

They don't posses any advanced knowledge, their knowledge is in fact irrelevant, just their possible actions (it doesn't matter how irrational those actions might be) that would cause significant ...
33
votes
14answers
6k views

Is there a hypothetical scenario that would make Earth uninhabitable for humans, but not for (the majority of) other animals?

I'm trying to think of a scientifically plausible reason for humanity to be forced to abandon earth that would leave animals and plants largely untouched. Is there any natural disaster that would have ...
33
votes
6answers
6k views

If a patch of desert were magically displaced to the middle of a forest, what would happen to the whole forest after certain periods of time?

First of all, I am tagging this with the magic because this phenomena is not a result of something natural. What would happen to a whole forest region if a patch of desert magically appeared at its ...
33
votes
7answers
8k views

How extensive could a habitable twilight zone be on a tidally locked planet?

If a planet always faces the same side to the sun, so that it has a permanent night side and a permanent day side, it will have a twilight zone in between the two sides. This will be a band around the ...
32
votes
8answers
3k views

Where to hide my evil Overlord? [closed]

Story: I am a evil necromancer Overlord who has many evil minions loyal to me. However a hero has greatly wounded me, and I have to go into deep sleep in order to heal and regain my dark energy. My ...
31
votes
12answers
10k views

In the late 1940’s to early 1950’s what technology was available that could melt a LOT of ice?

In my story I’ve devised lore where Greenland becomes a US territory, and they begin populating the region. It initially just served as the hub for numerous military bases and airbases, but eventually ...
29
votes
17answers
8k views

What society might survive the 3 generation rule

A not widely accepted psycho-social phenomenon but one our descendents might sometime face, the Three Generation Rule states: that the degree of social discipline needed for a space habitat to ...
29
votes
5answers
6k views

Does living without access to sunlight for extended periods have known physical or psychological effects on humans?

Humans (even programmers :-) ) are used to having some access to natural light, but in a colony in space, on the dark side of a tidally-locked planet, or underground (for example) this won't happen. ...
28
votes
17answers
7k views

What could be a valid reason for an entire section of a continent to remain unexplored and undiscovered, by the rest of the world in medieval times?

How can a part of a continent (super or other) remain unexplored by the apparently civilized majority? The undiscovered part must be habitable but inaccessible, by land or sea, so that the rest of the ...
28
votes
25answers
5k views

Which shape for an infinite world with usual sun cycles?

In fantasy works, it can be interesting to imagine an infinite world. It means you can travel in any direction for as long as you want, always discovering new lands, new cultures, new landscape, etc. ...
28
votes
3answers
3k views

How tall can a tree grow?

In my fantasy world I want fantastically large trees, particularly in the height category. The tallest trees on earth grow just over 100 meters tall. Why can't they get taller? What circumstances ...
28
votes
4answers
11k views

How long would it take for a forest ecosystem to overtake New York City?

Deer bound across broken pavement, eating from bushes growing were there were once cars beneath trees where there were once light posts. Busses have been replaced by bears, rumbling slowly down ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

What natural protections could a small oceanic island have against tsunamis?

In what ways could an island be protected from tsunamis, given the following constraints?: It lies in the middle of the ocean, at least several hundred kilometers from the nearest continent. It does ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

Relative Super Powers

The origin of Superman is fairly well known. A baby is sent to a planet and gains super powers from being in the environment (technically the sun, but I believe you catch the gist). I'd like to make a ...
27
votes
4answers
4k views

Less boring classifications of earth-like terrain when making maps

When creating a map for a fantasy world, I typically add broad top-level descriptions for terrain. Mountains here, forests there, a river, a swamp etc. Watch any nature documentary, and each terrain ...
26
votes
5answers
4k views

Plausibility of Mushroom Buildings

How plausible would buildings made inside of, or made using, giant mushrooms be? Copyright Raphael Lacoste 2018 A staple of the fantasy genre, mushrooms have commonly been seen as magical and ...
25
votes
19answers
6k views

The logistics of corpse disposal

A pair of fearless killers, thousands of years old, guard a path to what is believed to be heaven. Of course, all towns in the area have different ritual and traditions where either their criminals or ...
25
votes
20answers
5k views

Making a Planet Seem Uninhabitable

How can I make it so that an otherwise colonizable planet (or moon) can (entirely naturally) seem uninhabitable from a certain point on its surface? Background: There are a series of immovable gates ...
25
votes
5answers
10k views

What if an Earth-like planet had no axial tilt? (impact on ecosystem)

The Premise The Earth rotates on its own axis, which is tilted by about 23 degrees. The setting for my fantasy novel is an earth like planet without the axial tilt, all other factors remaining ...
25
votes
11answers
2k views

Restoring the world after a global apocalypse

So the world has been destroyed. Pick your poison. We have probably 300 different scenarios lying around here somewhere. What's Left: The world is a desolate wasteland, dry and crispy and barren ...
24
votes
12answers
6k views

Killing the majority of humanity for ecological reasons

There are a number of movies, books and TV shows where the villain wants to kill nearly everyone on the planet because of ecological concerns: there are too many humans, we're using the global ...
24
votes
8answers
2k views

How could a generation ship maintain a source of potable water?

A generation spaceship (a spaceship designed for multiple generations of humans to live in) could sail through the galaxy for hundreds of years before finding another planet, let alone a planet with ...
24
votes
8answers
2k views

Equatorial icecaps and polar jungles a fantasy or reality?

I am writing a science fiction movie script and a planet idea came to me a few weeks ago: A planet with equatorial icecaps and polar jungles. As interesting and intriguing as this is to think about, ...
24
votes
2answers
973 views

What effect would liquid sulfur oceans, sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere have on visibility, sound propagation and other environmental information?

EDIT: I eventually managed to find the absorption spectra of SO2 online - it absorbs in the ultraviolet range only, not in the visible light range, so the only factor affecting light transmitting ...
23
votes
5answers
5k views

The polar ice caps are melting. Can I replace them with icebergs made of pykrete?

Pretend I'm writing a story about a world exactly like our own. Real world physics, no magic, modern technology. Suddenly an eccentric world leader comes up with the idea to replace the melting ...
23
votes
4answers
7k views

What if the seas had fresh water in them?

In a future world, where there is almost no fresh water resources left, a radical scientist comes up with an idea to turn all the oceans into fresh water. The general idea is to be able to ...
22
votes
6answers
8k views

Is my world map unrealistic?

Just to say this first, the map is intentionally on a slant, and so the Northern cold areas are displayed at more of a North-West Angle, for example. I am designing the world from scratch, and am ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

How to survive mountain environments with a tribal culture?

Assume we have an Earth-like environment. If a tribe with only early medieval technology were to settle in a mountain environment: What resources would be needed to deal with the elevation, cold, ...
22
votes
3answers
748 views

How much land area do my land-based animals (herbivores) need for food?

I'm trying to work out the kinks of an ecosystem on a planet that is rather similar to Earth, but with some species of animal (both carnivores and herbivores) we aren't familiar with in our world. The ...
21
votes
10answers
4k views

What would cause a region of land to become barren over several decades?

I have a region in my novel called the Burren where some event many years prior caused the once relatively lush hills of farmland to become a barren desert. The desert expands little by little every ...
21
votes
21answers
5k views

Is it possible to have a habitable planet unsuitable for agriculture?

I want to have a planet similar to earth with 45% axial tilt when hunter gatherers have an advantage over agriculture. The only thing I could think of is far north(Siberia, Alaska) & Sahara desert,...