The World of the Divinity Bureau: Environmental Issues

Apr 23, 2017

Two hundred years ago, there was a place called North Amerigo (or was it North America? I can never remember the name). Once, it was the home of the greatest scientific discoveries, from space travel to quantum physics to genetics. The most significant development of them all was the discovery of BIONs, which allowed for human immortality. For the first time, people were healthy, young, and immortal – but this development came at a cost.

Soon, the population exploded into levels that were hardly sustainable. The overpopulation problem in North Amerigo was only fueled by global warming, which caused rising sea levels and a dramatic loss of land. A war ensued between the upper-class citizens – who were immortal and had obtained much of the remaining resources to sell for profit – and the lower-class citizens – who were poor, unable to afford these resources, and usually unable to afford immortality. From the chaos, a country called the Confederal Districts emerged.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about the world of the Divinity Bureau and how 21st-century issues shaped the Confederal Districts. As a disclaimer, I should mention that the Confederal Districts is a fictional world and the laws that govern it are merely figments of my imagination. That being said, the book was heavily influenced by current events, and I think it’s worth looking at the factors that influenced the world that was built.

The first factor that I had to consider was the size of the new world that April and Roman were living in. As I write this, I’m living in a world that’s home to 7.4 billion people and a country of 314 million. Projections estimate that the USA will be at 400 million people by the year 2050. I couldn’t even dare bring myself to think of where we’d be at in one hundred and fifty years, which is when April and Roman’s story takes place (though if you’re curious to know what our population will be like, I’ll be addressing that in another post in the coming weeks!).

The one thing we do know is that our future looks warmer. In the last fifty years, the average global temperature has increased. All but one of the 16 hottest years in NASA’s 134-year recorded history has occurred since the year 2000. And scientists say that we could see an increase in the average temperature by ten degrees by the end of the century if we don’t curb emissions. (Source: NRDC)

One side effect of global warming is the melting of ice at the poles and on mountain tops. There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth; if the ice melted, our sea level would rise by 216 feet. This fact heavily influenced the world building of the Confederal Districts, and I imagined April and Roman living in a world where there were more people and less land. Here’s an outline of the Confederal Districts:

Seems like your typical dystopian world, right? (Sorry, Mexico and Canada. I had to take some artistic liberties…). Mind you, I designed this map when I was still a rookie at Photoshop. Except here’s what National Geographic thinks the world will look like once the ice caps melt:

Look familiar?

The good news: scientists say that it would take five thousand years to melt all the ice caps. Yet the bad news is that if we expect our race to still be around by then, the time to act is now.

More effects of global warming:

  • Increased air pollution
  • A longer and more intense allergy season
  • Extreme weather conditions, ranging from more frequent and dangerous heat waves and stronger hurricanes.
  • Disruptions to food supply
  • Plant and animal range shifts

(Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)

Throughout The Divinity Bureau, Roman and April find themselves battling air pollution; even to the point where they need face masks to go outside.

Does it sound like science fiction?

It is.

And yet, cities across the world find themselves battling ammonia, formic acid, methanol, and ozone. Even today.

Next week: We’ll be learning more about how modern-day politics influenced the world of the Divinity Bureau. Interested in learning more about Roman, April, and the Confederal Districts? Check out the book here. You can even read an excerpt!

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