Dystopian Agricultural Breadbasket World [Worldbuilding]

In most science fiction, the Breadbasket worlds are sprawling farmlands with sparse population, the better to not eat the food. However, with fusion and automated building technology, you can build incredibly dense urban farms and arcologies, support a population of tens of billions, and still produce tons of food.

Thus I introduce to you Agricola, a polluted factory world, where the high tech factory is plant production:

  • The world has 15 billion people, many of whom are poorly fed. The primary and driving focus of the entire planet is toward agricultural, and specifically flora, production.
  • Industry involves growing plants, yes. But also maintaining the farming arcologies, and the machines that do the work, and some of the basic production of chemicals needed for the hydroponics. And the scientific R&D people. And then there are the people who exist to support those workers, all the way down the chain.
  • This world is an unpleasant hellhole to live on due to all of the pollution in the environment, and due to the nearly complete wipeout of non-foodstuff native ecology.
  • But this world, with 15 billion people, produces enough food to sustain 200 billion people across the Confederation, of 14 different sapient species, as well as nearly a trillion pets and livestock.
  • The vast majority of food production occurs inside the arcologies. However, there is a form of “luxury natural” foodstuffs that are grown outside in natural light. There is essentially no difference here (the hydroponics stuff is often of better quality), but is more “natural” to these consumers. Thus a great deal of area that could be used for more ecologies has instead been devoted to the more lucrative luxury markets, to the detriment of people who might like to spread out.
  • This pollution is not entirely what you’d expect. First and foremost, the atmosphere has far too much oxygen, meaning there are frequent fires on the vast planes of fields. Scrubbers take as much of this out of the atmosphere near the fields as possible, but they don’t really care about ash in the city.
    But the high O2 content also means that people (a) have more energy and focus to do their work, but (b) age faster due to oxidation of their tissues. They effectively are “burning” at the molecular level.
    The high oxygen also supercharges the pests, allowing the rapid evolution of mega-bugs, as existed on prehistoric Earth (recently, plagues of decimeter-long locusts have become a problem).
  • There is low CO2, meaning that there is too little greenhouse effect, naturally. So the engineers decided to start producing CFCs, which are highly efficient greenhouse gases. As a bonus, they’ve wiped out the entirety of the polar ozone layer, to the benefit of plants that photosynthesize on UV light.
    So this world is cold, with energy devoted to melting away encroaching glaciers, and people have just adapted to near constant sunburn

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#story ideas I will never write #food #apocalypse cw

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