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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Imagine an earth like planet, in which a druidic magical cult gained too much power and covered every piece of land with plants. There could still be cities, but there are plants between the buildings and on them.

    Some regions of land are not good for mass vegetation, like deserts and tundras, but the druids simply altered the local / nearby plants to be more resistant to the elements and covered the region with them (so even the south pole is flourishing). Maybe dug some water canals. Those plants are not magical and they didn't use special magical plants on a big enough scale to factor in.

    They made fairies to protect the plants, so there couldn't just be something like a giant fire or a natural disaster that would destroy huge swaths of vegetation.

    How would the climate change? And would there be an issue with the amount of fresh water? (part of the idea is that fairies limit the amount of water humans get so plants won't die)
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Imagine an earth like planet, in which a druidic magical cult gained too much power and covered every piece of land with plants. There could still be cities, but there are plants between the buildings and on them.

    Some regions of land are not good for mass vegetation, like deserts and tundras, but the druids simply altered the local / nearby plants to be more resistant to the elements and covered the region with them (so even the south pole is flourishing). Maybe dug some water canals. Those plants are not magical and they didn't use special magical plants on a big enough scale to factor in.

    They made fairies to protect the plants, so there couldn't just be something like a giant fire or a natural disaster that would destroy huge swaths of vegetation.

    How would the climate change? And would there be an issue with the amount of fresh water? (part of the idea is that fairies limit the amount of water humans get so plants won't die)
    You might have some massive global cooling. Vegetation is made of carbon, and at least growing woody vegetation binds that carbon. So do many types of soil that are created by vegetation, like humus or peat. Even more so if the vegetation doesn't burn, which releases much of the trapped carbon. You'd probably get more water in the air from evaporation, which might balance this a bit, but overall, expect cooling. We might be talking glaciers and falling sea levels, here.

    Which would be interesting, since that would likely slow down the vegetation. If the druids keep counteracting that with magic, you'd get some interesting feedback loops.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2021-03-31 at 03:27 AM.
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    How would the climate change?
    A lot of this is going to depend on how much magic or the faeries step in to intervene. Let's take deserts as an example. There already are non-magical plants that are resistant to the elements of a desert region -- plants that exist in real world deserts. Thus, to make a desert 'covered' in vegetation, and not using magical plants (on a scale that definitely would factor in), you have to make the desert, in no small way, not a desert. That means diverting freshwater from elsewhere.

    And that's really what I think the effect would be -- while plants are a significant user of fresh water IRL, it isn't the only user. Some rains down and then evaporates before it gets used. Some enters into waterways and eventually gets to the ocean. These druids and faeries would probably spend a serious amount of effort diverting that water for use by plants (particularly in arid places).

    The net ecological effect would be that more of the planet would be green, damp (potentially rainforest, if it is extensive enough to create its own weather), and as Eldan mentions cooler.

    They made fairies to protect the plants, so there couldn't just be something like a giant fire or a natural disaster that would destroy huge swaths of vegetation.
    Would they stop normal, natural forest fires? That's had serious ramifications when people did it on a scale of a half century or so, much less whatever this world has.

    And would there be an issue with the amount of fresh water? (part of the idea is that fairies limit the amount of water humans get so plants won't die)
    Fresh water would be one of the dominant resource limits. If this is a anti-utopian tale, the overly-zealous faeries could be fighting with each other, tearing down each others' aqueducts and diverting water to and from each others' pet forests, all while a scrappy band of non-industrialized, non-agrarian humans do raids on facilities for just enough water to survive. Kinda Mad Max/Waterworld, but in a subtropical rainforest.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Originally Posted by akma
    Imagine an earth like planet, in which a druidic magical cult gained too much power and covered every piece of land with plants.
    Is the planet an exact copy of Earth, or just habitable with similar ecosystems and climate zones?

    If not an exact copy of Earth, then the first question is how much of the planet is covered by land vs. water.

    Originally Posted by akma
    …even the south pole is flourishing….
    Temperatures in Antarctica usually range from -10 to -60 C, so there’s no growing season for what we think of as typical vegetation. Plants would either have to be magically augmented to resist below-freezing conditions, or the “plant” cover would need to be almost entirely lichens and algae.

    Originally Posted by Eldan
    You might have some massive global cooling. Vegetation is made of carbon, and at least growing woody vegetation binds that carbon.
    There might be some cooling, but unless animal life is being specifically suppressed, the vegetation will support a greater animal biomass, which will (among other things) be producing more natural methane. More vegetation overall should also mean more wetlands, thus another source of natural methane. Together I would expect these to help counteract any effects from greater CO2 uptake.

    Also, over the long term, more vegetation cover should mean less weathering, and so less carbon sequestration via that route.

    And keep in mind that if the poles are covered in vegetation (one way or another), that reduces the planet's albedo and increases heat absorption, further counteracting any cooling effects.

    Originally Posted by Willie the Duck
    Fresh water would be one of the dominant resource limits.
    It will be indeed.

    Originally Posted by Willie the Duck
    Kinda Mad Max/Waterworld, but in a subtropical rainforest.
    And that is a great campaign setup.

    Last edited by Palanan; 2021-04-01 at 10:37 AM.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    There are known polar plants, even trees, though, in the fossil record. Trees speculated to overwinter for up to eight months. In our current world, temperature and soil are limiting, but it's not impossible with fantasy geography and druidic magic. (New Spell: create topsoil)
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    It'd change...a lot.

    1. Albedo would change. The earth's overall albedo is about .3, and a forest can get as low as .08(though it can be a fair bit higher depending on specific vegetation). Therefore, we are absorbing a significantly more amount of the sun's energy. That's probably a big ol' warming effect.

    2. Carbon would be...partially locked up. Kind of. Once mature, plants are net carbon neutral. You'd have more overall carbon locked up in plants at any one point in time, but only to a certain degree. Eventually the tree is burned, consumed, etc and that carbon is released, so from a lifecycle perspective, forests don't absorb carbon regularly. This might partially offset #1, but we'd probably still have a very hot world.

    3. If nothing is burned, you have problems. Burns are a natural part of some life cycles, so without them, you'll lose some species. You do have a lack of natural firebreaks, so fire management might need to be somewhat more active.

    4. Disease can spread somewhat easier. Places like deserts form natural barriers to disease, both among animals and of course, ailments for plants. One continuous mass of plants makes diseases potentially more able to spread.

    5. The water cycle would require some interesting management. A lot of the places lacking vegetation right now simply lack water. Making everything lush and green is gonna require getting a *lot* of water to the right places. Magic, I guess? Or at least elaborate irrigation.

    Probably a ton more I'm not thinking of.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    The main problem with many deserts is not even the lack of water, but overgrazing and deforestation by humans. The traditional definition of desert isnplaces with minimal rainfall, but it makes much more sense to define them as places with minimal biological activity. Iceland is very wet, and still much of the environment is basically a desert in every other respect.

    What causes a near total absence of plants is the absence of soil. Usually soil is held in place by plant roots. But when all the trees get felled and the shrubs and grasses are all eaten away by sheep, the soil is carried away by wind and running surface water, until only bare rock and sand remains. With scarce plants, animals have to eat every little scrap of green they can find, leaving nothing behind, causing the desert to grow larger.

    The most efficient measures to stop deserts from growing and reversing the effect that I know is to plant trees that can survive with little water and barely any soil. While the seeds can't grow on bare sand, once they have grown into small plants, they can be planted in the desert and start growing roots to enable the development of new soil without it instantly erroding away. Given the scale of these projects, I don't believe there is much artifical irrigation going on, if any. It's not a magic solution to all problems, but in many places where it's been tried, the results are really stunning in just a couple of years.

    If you can magically make billions of seedlings appear in the desert, there might not be much more magic needed beyond that in many places.

    The immediate change is in the local climate. During day, ground covered in soil does not warm up as quickly, and during night ot keeps warmth better than bare sand. Which means cooler days and warmer nights. A more moderate climate overall. Of course, with shade from plants, the ground also holds water much better, which makes the water available for the plants. Plants also release a lot of water into the air from their leaves. Many plants can basically hibernate when access to water is low, but to transport nutrients throughout the plant to grow more leaves and fruit, and to gain in overall mass, the plant must have a flow of water from the roots, up to and out of the leaves. Often the vast majority of water that a plant sucks from the ground evaporates again that way. But that water isn't lost to the environment, of course. All the water that evaporates into the air has to come down as rain somewhere, and when it falls on land it becomes available for plants again.
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Fresh water would be one of the dominant resource limits. If this is a anti-utopian tale, the overly-zealous faeries could be fighting with each other, tearing down each others' aqueducts and diverting water to and from each others' pet forests, all while a scrappy band of non-industrialized, non-agrarian humans do raids on facilities for just enough water to survive. Kinda Mad Max/Waterworld, but in a subtropical rainforest.
    I haven't thought about the fairies fighting each other... A possible timeline for this world could be:
    a) A fairly standard fantasy world, but without practical extra-planar water solutions to the problems they'll face (unless you'll want to run an adventure about people raiding other planes for water).
    b) A legendary Druid establishes a strong religion and world domination, possibly a process that continues after his death. Other religions die.
    c) In the course of several or many generations, the druids and the fairies they created make the whole world green. Part of it involves magic, part of it involves agricultural work, often combined (you don't really need magic to divert a river, but it could sure speed things up).
    d) Their mission is successful, but too successful and humans don't have enough water. Most of the devout believers of the druidic religion are now fairies.
    e) Humans are extinct or very close to it, and now the fairies started fighting each other for water.
    f) There is a sort of equilibrium of constant warfare, with each group of fairies trying to divert resources from the nearby areas to their sacred forest. It could lead to fairies actually destroying plants. That equilibrium could theoretically last forever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Would they stop normal, natural forest fires? That's had serious ramifications when people did it on a scale of a half century or so, much less whatever this world has.
    Yes, they would stop natural forest fires.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Is the planet an exact copy of Earth, or just habitable with similar ecosystems and climate zones?
    Habitable with the same ecosystems and climate zone. In practice if I'll draw a map for the setting it won't look exactly like Earth, but in the sense of climate before the vegetation, there won't be any differences that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Temperatures in Antarctica usually range from -10 to -60 C, so there’s no growing season for what we think of as typical vegetation. Plants would either have to be magically augmented to resist below-freezing conditions, or the “plant” cover would need to be almost entirely lichens and algae.
    I think that in Antarctica it would be mostly lichens and algae, but I might change my mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    There might be some cooling, but unless animal life is being specifically suppressed, the vegetation will support a greater animal biomass, which will (among other things) be producing more natural methane.
    Shouldn't the lack of fresh water suppress animal population growth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    If you can magically make billions of seedlings appear in the desert, there might not be much more magic needed beyond that in many places.
    The change took generations, so they don't even need to do it magically.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    3. If nothing is burned, you have problems. Burns are a natural part of some life cycles, so without them, you'll lose some species. You do have a lack of natural firebreaks, so fire management might need to be somewhat more active.

    4. Disease can spread somewhat easier. Places like deserts form natural barriers to disease, both among animals and of course, ailments for plants. One continuous mass of plants makes diseases potentially more able to spread.
    The fairies would stop ANYTHING that could destroy a vast amount of vegetation, the world couldn't reach that stage otherwise. They worry about preserving current plant life, they won't strategically destroy some plants to make things better in the long term.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    5. The water cycle would require some interesting management. A lot of the places lacking vegetation right now simply lack water. Making everything lush and green is gonna require getting a *lot* of water to the right places. Magic, I guess? Or at least elaborate irrigation.
    Probably more elaborate irrigation than magic. The druidic religion established world dominance, so they had a lot of extra hands of ordinary, non magical people.


    Will there be a significant change with the amount of oxygen in the air? If so, could it mean humans would go extinct because of oxygen intoxication?
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Will there be a significant change with the amount of oxygen in the air? If so, could it mean humans would go extinct because of oxygen intoxication?
    Oxygen toxicity only comes into effect at around ~50% oxygen content of the atmosphere and the highest known atmospheric oxygen content on geological record is 35% is during the Carboniferous period, so humans are unlikely to be impacted. If anything, they'd be harder to stop as they can work more efficiently.

    You've mentioned that the faeries and druids are stopping all wildfires; in that case they're going to be working 24/7 on that, as the higher the %oxygen in the air, the more flammable everything becomes.
    I'm also seriously questioning their understanding of nature, as wildfires are a natural phenomenon and a number of plant species have evolved to take advantage of wildfires to eliminate the competition so that they can spread their seeds.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    CO2 levels would probably be a bit lower, but not massively lower than pre-industrial levels. They may even get higher over longer timescales. For them to be very low you need mechanisms which lock up carbon as well as use it, and they are quite rare on land. We burn carbon because it has massive amounts of energy when combined with oxygen, and life generally evolves to do the same thing (eventually). With all the waterwork required mires will probably be drained, reducing the locking up of carbon that way.

    The water cycle gets turbocharged, and this has consequences. Areas of vegatation evaporate almost 10x the water than the same area of water does. Desert areas are typically areas where convective processes cause water to migrate away. You can counter this by diverting in massive quantities of water, but that water doesn't just disappear. For every region that is desert there is also a region where water is accumulated by the same processes. These are your rainforests. If your deserts are dry rainforest water will mostly evaporate, condense in the area (trapped by atmospheric effects), and then fall back down again forming a locally closed cycle. Water that evaporates from 'desert'* areas continually tops it up, and when there is more than the system can use it runs off.

    *I'm using desert as shorthand for any area that experiences more evaporation than condensation. Over land these places can end up very dry, stalling the cycle, but large chunks of it will be over ocean, giving limitless reserves. As I said they do evaporate slower than land sources though.

    Run off is not good for these rainforest systems, because it pulls nutrient elements away. Slow runoff can be harvested by animal life, which can even move it back up the system giving something largely closed. Rainforests have as much water as they need, and generally tons of energy. They are nutrient bottlenecked. At the 'top' of the runoff area this is most significant, but plants can mitigate this by producing low nutrient high energy fruits, which animals can trade for nutrients harvested further down (no explicit deal about this, but fruit makes you poop).

    Massive artificial forests in desert areas will dump vast amounts of extra water which has to run off. That means you would need far more powerful systems to pull nutrients back upstream. Large medium range migratory animals would be more common.

    It is a double whammy, because deserts also produce large quantities of nutrient rich dust. Stabilising them with plant life will mean far less nutrients delivered to rain forest systems to begin with.


    Basically it would be much wetter and full of elephants.
    Last edited by Fat Rooster; 2021-04-02 at 08:12 AM.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    I'm also seriously questioning their understanding of nature, as wildfires are a natural phenomenon and a number of plant species have evolved to take advantage of wildfires to eliminate the competition so that they can spread their seeds.
    Based on the OP's comments, it seems to me that this is a runaway process and/or the equivalent to the negative consequences of a monkey's paw wish playing out.

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Yes, they would stop natural forest fires.
    ...
    The fairies would stop ANYTHING that could destroy a vast amount of vegetation, the world couldn't reach that stage otherwise. They worry about preserving current plant life, they won't strategically destroy some plants to make things better in the long term.
    Okay. Well, as mentioned above, this will cause some species to die out (some have seeds that won't germinate except after a fire, others will simply not find a suitable habitat as the consequences of this propagate and perpetuate). Tree leaves will eventually litter the forest floor, and without fire will subside only through rotting. The soil level will rise, and trees with roots that require a certain depth will perhaps have a limit to their lifespan (as 'ground level' keeps changing*). Eventually a forest might become so carbon rich and moisture-retaining that there will be a sufficient amount of anaerobic metabolism such that they will give off methane as swamps do. This will also probably effect pH, and you will have an additional bought of die-offs and other plants (with different pH tolerances) moving in. What/how the faeries do with/about this die-off will probably have a serious effect on the look of the world at whatever point the PCs or audience** enter into the situation. Just note that stopping this die-off is going to be even more magical than stopping forest fires in a tinderbox world, and it might spiral headlong into a world kept as-is by sheer magical force of will***.
    *Well, it already does, but I mean on a much shorter timescale. Especially since all the ground is covered and rivers have been suborned, meaning that natural erosion cycles have been disrupted.
    **it's unclear, is this a TTRPG campaign? You're using terms like druids, planes, and faeries, but this is the Science subforum, so I don't want to make assumptions.
    ***If magic stops forest fires, we understand what that looks like. If magic stops proton-donation-proclivity in all the chemicals in the matter which makes up an environment... applying science to what that would end up looking like starts to become meaningless (because it all becomes 'whatever the magic thinks it should be').

    Habitable with the same ecosystems and climate zone. In practice if I'll draw a map for the setting it won't look exactly like Earth, but in the sense of climate before the vegetation, there won't be any differences that matter.
    Ocean size is going to matter for the outcome. Also, what is the ocean going to look like? Is it going to be forced to max-green as well?

    Shouldn't the lack of fresh water suppress animal population growth?
    It certainly is going to alter it. This will favor animals which can readily obtain their water needs through non-riverine sources (through seeds/berries, the main plant bodies themselves, or rainwater as it falls or just collects on the ground surface floor*). Smaller animals will definitely be the dominant ones, and I imagine a lot of rodent and shrew-sized creatures. Might also favor reptiles with lower metabolic costs.
    *unless we're assuming that faeries go and shepherd raindrops into the soil and straight to plant roots before animals can even get to it.

    The direct plant-eaters are going to be a big deal in this situation. Let's say mice and rabbits survive, since they can get what they need from the vegetation. However, things like foxes and wolves, which eat mice and rabbits, cannot (since on top of the mice and rabbits, they tend to need to go to the local stream to drink, etc.). Without predation, the small animal population will bloom. In North America, as the wolf population was killed off, the population spikes in such animals has literally changed the course of rivers. Mind you, we've already suggested that the rivers will be repurposed, so this might not happen. However, this may develop into the new ecological battleground of the world -- huge swarms of small herbivores devouring forests with impunity fighting back the stasis that otherwise would form.
    *although, as mentioned previously, that stasis wouldn't actually be static, as the ground level and chemistry would also creep in various directions.
    Last edited by Willie the Duck; 2021-04-02 at 08:13 AM.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    The fairies would stop ANYTHING that could destroy a vast amount of vegetation, the world couldn't reach that stage otherwise. They worry about preserving current plant life, they won't strategically destroy some plants to make things better in the long term.
    A very enthusiastic approach to fire prevention will eventually make the situation worse. In addition to losing plants like bristlecone pine, you'll also get accumulations of fallen trees, dead wood, leaves, and so on. Basically if you prevent all fires, the forest builds up flammable material and becomes a tinder box in many climates.

    Usually this tends to end with very large, very hot blazes that become so fast and hot that they end up being nearly unstoppable. In some cases, fires can spread as fast as cars drive.

    Probably more elaborate irrigation than magic. The druidic religion established world dominance, so they had a lot of extra hands of ordinary, non magical people.
    Probably doable, given that Roman era irrigation pipes are still in use today...similar methodologies and a long lived civilization could see a lot of irrigation come into play. Maybe more canals and stuff as well. This could eventually impact society interestingly.

    Will there be a significant change with the amount of oxygen in the air? If so, could it mean humans would go extinct because of oxygen intoxication?
    We can take a fair amount of oxygen before dying. However, euphoria is experienced at somewhat lower levels than lethal ones, so....for extreme results, people might act drunk. Also, lots of oxygen makes the fire problem interesting.

    That said, the contributions of forests to oxygen are often overstated. Most of our oxygen actually comes from the oceans. That portion probably wouldn't change much, so the net result isn't that big of a deal. Trees don't actually produce all that much oxygen. The Amazon is sometimes credited as a major oxygen producer...but it really isn't, and it consumes almost all that oxygen itself. Best guess, the world has very slightly higher oxygen, but is still very habitable and looks mostly similar in that regard.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Originally Posted by Tyndmyr
    If nothing is burned, you have problems. Burns are a natural part of some life cycles, so without them, you'll lose some species. You do have a lack of natural firebreaks, so fire management might need to be somewhat more active.
    Originally Posted by Brother Oni
    I'm also seriously questioning their understanding of nature, as wildfires are a natural phenomenon and a number of plant species have evolved to take advantage of wildfires to eliminate the competition so that they can spread their seeds.
    The comments about fire-influenced ecosystems are very much on point. If the fairies and/or druids are preventing all fires, that will mean some species won’t be able to germinate, and many others will end up being at a competitive disadvantage. In some areas entire ecosystems will see major changes to their vegetation communities.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Imagine an earth [that]... covered every piece of land with plants. There could still be cities, but there are plants between the buildings and on them.
    Regarding cities isn't that, to a reasonable close approximation, the current one and to an even closer approximation the one from 100/1000/10000 years ago.

    Deserts and other naturally barren regions would make a significant difference.
    It seems that they (Deserts) are about 1/3 of the land area (or 10% of the planet).

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    It is a double whammy, because deserts also produce large quantities of nutrient rich dust. Stabilising them with plant life will mean far less nutrients delivered to rain forest systems to begin with.
    I believe desert dust is rich in nutrients because those are the leftovers from ancient forest that died, and whose carbon that makes up most of their total dry mass escaped as gas into the atmosphere.

    Every tree in the Amazon that does not get nutrients from Sahara dust will instead be replaced by a tree in the Sahara. It's only relocating to nutrients from a place where they are currently unused to a place that can male use of them. It wouldn't affect total global biological activity.

    Most nutrients would eventually be washed out into the oceans over millions of years. I actually have no idea how they are recirculated to land. Sea birds can poop only so much, and generally don't travel far inland after eating fish.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    The comments about fire-influenced ecosystems are very much on point. If the fairies and/or druids are preventing all fires, that will mean some species won’t be able to germinate, and many others will end up being at a competitive disadvantage. In some areas entire ecosystems will see major changes to their vegetation communities.
    Preventing all wildfires would make the entire world a giant ticking time bomb. You get dead leaves, needles, and twigs build up everywhere until the whole world is waist deep in kindling. If at some point a wildfire does somehow start anyway, it would be apocalyptic.
    What you need is lots of regular small fires that burn away all available fuel when there is still very little of it. This keeps trees, bushes, and seeds fairly unaffected and they will be right back next spring. If the whole forest is covered in dead wood amd leaves, the fires get hot enough to kill living trees, and big enough that they don't go out and just keep burning until everything is gone. All the trees snd the animals too. And then your forest is going to look really terrible for the next few decades to a century.
    Last edited by Yora; 2021-04-03 at 04:39 PM.
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Regarding the fairies and firefighting: it's not that they are preventing fires from happening, it's that they put them off quickly when they do.

    I'm also seriously questioning their understanding of nature, as wildfires are a natural phenomenon and a number of plant species have evolved to take advantage of wildfires to eliminate the competition so that they can spread their seeds.
    They are sort of smart and stupid in the same time when it comes to nature. Remember, this whole idea is based on mismanagement of water, they are not good when it comes to long term planning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Ocean size is going to matter for the outcome. Also, what is the ocean going to look like? Is it going to be forced to max-green as well?
    I am not entirely sure what to do about oceans. They won't cover the oceans themselves or deal with underwater plants, but humans might come into play.
    Sea water is too salty to drink, but you can extract the salt and separate it from the water. I think that if you'll cover a pot with a cloth, heat the pot so the water will vaporize, and then squeeze the water from the cloth into a different pot, you'll get drinkable water. Maybe it's more complicated then that, but I don't think that by much. Humans that live close to the beaches will certainly become desperate enough to do something like that, and fairies could do this too. I am undecided as to how I want such a development to end, but maybe the amount of salt water in the world will continuingly decline, while people and fairies will have to find a place to put all the salt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Tree leaves will eventually litter the forest floor, and without fire will subside only through rotting. The soil level will rise, and trees with roots that require a certain depth will perhaps have a limit to their lifespan (as 'ground level' keeps changing). Eventually a forest might become so carbon rich and moisture-retaining that there will be a sufficient amount of anaerobic metabolism such that they will give off methane as swamps do. This will also probably effect pH, and you will have an additional bought of die-offs and other plants (with different pH tolerances) moving in. What/how the faeries do with/about this die-off will probably have a serious effect on the look of the world at whatever point the PCs or audience enter into the situation. Just note that stopping this die-off is going to be even more magical than stopping forest fires in a tinderbox world, and it might spiral headlong into a world kept as-is by sheer magical force of will.
    My intuition regarding it: that most fairies would occasionally gather and dump large amounts of leaves into the ocean. Which further complicates my indecisiveness regarding oceans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    it's unclear, is this a TTRPG campaign? You're using terms like druids, planes, and faeries, but this is the Science subforum, so I don't want to make assumptions.
    I'm thinking of it as a TTRPG setting, but I'm asking only about the science involved, so this forum feels more appropriate. If I wanted help regarding how to name the setting, which cultures would evolve, or pretty much anything else that doesn't fall into the hard sciences, I would ask it in the world building forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Usually this tends to end with very large, very hot blazes that become so fast and hot that they end up being nearly unstoppable. In some cases, fires can spread as fast as cars drive.
    "As fast as cars drive" seems like too much for how I imagined the fairies...

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Regarding cities isn't that, to a reasonable close approximation, the current one
    No, because cities are more construction then greenery. You walk on asphalt, not on grass. There might be trees planted along the streets (there are where I live), but they are spaced apart.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Preventing all wildfires would make the entire world a giant ticking time bomb. You get dead leaves, needles, and twigs build up everywhere until the whole world is waist deep in kindling. If at some point a wildfire does somehow start anyway, it would be apocalyptic.
    What you need is lots of regular small fires that burn away all available fuel when there is still very little of it. This keeps trees, bushes, and seeds fairly unaffected and they will be right back next spring. If the whole forest is covered in dead wood amd leaves, the fires get hot enough to kill living trees, and big enough that they don't go out and just keep burning until everything is gone. All the trees snd the animals too. And then your forest is going to look really terrible for the next few decades to a century.
    Maybe I should add some reasonable fire management thinking to the fairies...
    On the other hand, their natural limits could balance things too. Maybe they will keep their irresponsible attitude, but every few decades there will be a fire too big for them to handle, than a large area (but not the entire world) will be ruined, and than they will use magic to speed up it's restoration.
    Last edited by akma; 2021-04-04 at 04:21 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grinner View Post
    In a world ruled by small birds, mankind cannot help but wonder how this state of affairs came about.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Two questions.

    First, how long have the druids and fairies been at this? Because like everybody else is mentioning, there are lots of problem where magicking them away just means you're setting up a bigger problem down the line. If the world has been in this state for any amount of time, at least the druids should realize that sometimes you do need controlled destruction to forestall uncontrolled destruction. How much the fairies understand depends on what sort of fairies you're planning on building, but make them too single minded and you just created a greygreen goo world. The fairies have nothing against you, but you are made of nutrients and biomass that could be added to some tree.

    Second, and related to the last sentence there, how do you get around the simple amount of planetary stuff? If the planet is a closed system then things like water and nutrient management will become important to balance. Which is more technical than a lot of people expect for their fantasy settings. If the fairies can access fairyland to bring in fertilizer and water while getting rid of the dead stuff on the forest floor that could pose a fire hazard you'd still have planetary climate issues that might be interesting, but fewer tinderbox woes and less need to work out water cycle minutiae yourself.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    First, how long have the druids and fairies been at this?
    At least a few generations. A few dozens of generations seems like a reasonable minimum, as creating such widespread changes would take a lot of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    If the world has been in this state for any amount of time, at least the druids should realize that sometimes you do need controlled destruction to forestall uncontrolled destruction.
    The time of the "present" is sort of an uncontrolled destruction state - the fairies realize that they have to limit the amount of water humans get in order for the plants to have enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Second, and related to the last sentence there, how do you get around the simple amount of planetary stuff? If the planet is a closed system then things like water and nutrient management will become important to balance.
    Mismanagement of the limited resources is the world's main issue. The original cult didn't have to worry about the fact that a planet's resources are finite, they were so far away from the planet's full potential that they couldn't even imagine it. They didn't think about it when they created the fairies and their culture, and only recently it reached the "dehydrate humanity" point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    If the fairies can access fairyland to bring in fertilizer and water while getting rid of the dead stuff on the forest floor that could pose a fire hazard you'd still have planetary climate issues that might be interesting, but fewer tinderbox woes and less need to work out water cycle minutiae yourself.
    a) No fairyland, no extra-planar solutions.
    b) The water cycle minutiae is the main point of this world. It is the basis of the conflict between fairies and humans, between growth and sustainability, between nature and humans. Without the water cycle mismanagement, everyone could live in peace.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grinner View Post
    In a world ruled by small birds, mankind cannot help but wonder how this state of affairs came about.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Maybe I should add some reasonable fire management thinking to the fairies...
    On the other hand, their natural limits could balance things too. Maybe they will keep their irresponsible attitude, but every few decades there will be a fire too big for them to handle, than a large area (but not the entire world) will be ruined, and than they will use magic to speed up it's restoration.
    Well, if this is intended for a story/roleplaying game, having some horrible consequence gone awry is...probably great. Gives you a nice spicy element of drama to inject at some point.

    Nothing like the world literally being on fire to provide some stakes.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    If forest fires can't get big, and large areas of land are never cleared, then many plants (like aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains) would eventually become extinct. They only start growing where the land has been cleared -- usually by fire.

    But my big question is this -- where did all the new carbon come from? There should be enough oxygen (45%), hydrogen (6.3%), and nitrogen (1.3%), but some other elements could be bottlenecks as well. 1.2% silicon, 0.9% potassium, etc. These plants are in competition for these elements, and now there are far ore of them competing for the same level of resources.


    In general, a big change to an ecosystem leads to a disaster fairly quickly. The introduction of rabbits to Australia caused, and still causes, serious ecological damage, which could not be predicted.

    So my guess is that some big, unforeseen disaster would soon occur. [Of course, how big a "disaster" is depends on what you care about. If it causes a deep decrease in the ogre and troll population, I'm not convinced that the druids would care.]

    In the short term, it would be great for herbivores -- at least for the ones who eat the new plants. Their numbers would increase until they were once again limited by the new, larger number of plants. This would be great (in the slightly longer term) for the carnivores. So their numbers would increase until they were once again limited by the new, larger supply of meat.

    I suspect that this would be great for farms at first. The herbivores could go eat in the new locations where farmers aren't trying to stop them, until the supply of herbivores outstripped the supply of wild crops, when they (once again) would prefer the better tended, more productive fields of the farmers.

    So, yeah, a very difficult time is coming. Life is competition. Competition hasn't been denied. But with more total plants and animal competing, the competition will be more vicious. There's a lot more plants than the land was able to support on its own. Some form of devastating ecological upheaval occurs. Eventually, a new competitive balance will be found.



    But that's a guess. [So is everybody else's post.] The one thing I'm pretty sure of is that druids don't have the advanced scientific training to predict the results in advance.

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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    First question is this: What kind of vegetation and does it vary by climate? Because if you think about it, much of the land is already covered in some kind of vegetation or another, be it grass, forests, or even things like peat and lichen. The only places where that is an exception are deserts, ice, and parts of mountains.

    And really, those places are both the minority, and not widely used landscapes anyways. Also they can have some vegetation already. I mean, covering deserts in cacti is certainly going to do something, but it won't be nearly as big of a change as covering them in pine trees.
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    Default Re: How would the climate change if the entire planet was covered in vegetation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    First question is this: What kind of vegetation and does it vary by climate?
    It varies by climate, they mostly amplify local vegetation. So they would rather fill a desert with cacti than with pines, although with the global spread of plants, some non-local vegetation will eventually grow there. There are trees that can grow in deserts, so they can turn deserts into forests without introducing new elements.

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