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The world I'm writing is a multi-polar world where every nation has their own battleships and aircraft. Aerial warfare is kind of normal (like Ace Combat.) As I progress with my idea, I've realized that the constant use of aircraft and ships could lead to pollution which I'm not a fan of but I don't know how to tackle it. Should I avoid mentioning this kind of topic to my story, or leave some vague mentions here and there?

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  • What technological level are you dealing with (Ace Combat is Modern, but Nuclear Weapons never happened, more to get the excuse plot of a modern war between nations with modern militaries to happen. That doesn't mean "NO WMDs" as the other excuse is the aggressor nation has a new superweapon that they think gives them the edge. Just no nukes.). Modern Navies do not field Battleships as they were obsolete by WWII. Could you also explain your problem with pollution as you see it in your plot?
    – hszmv
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 12:34

5 Answers 5

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Start with your Theme

An obvious theme for a "Endless Combat" story might be the contrast between the pageantry of military celebrations and the reality of violent death. In a world with ceaseless fighting, powerful people are going to need to motivate the population to sacrifice themselves, and "patriotic" events are a time-tested way to do that.

So maybe your world is full of military parades, fly-overs of sporting events, and lionizing television segments telling of the heroic deeds of your aviators. People think of war, and they think of the beautiful, gleaming metal aircraft, and clever pilots in starched uniforms.

This preconceived notion will clash rather nicely with the image of a shattered, burnt out hulk of a downed plane. Wrecked aircraft become a metaphor for the twisted world-view that supported endless war in the first place: beautiful and poignant at first but horrifying and empty in the end.

War is intrinsically wasteful - and removing the human element, leaving only wreckage and the environment, is a great way to drive that home.

In any case: everything should work with your theme. If you're looking to drive home the horrors of war, run with the pollution angle. If you've got a different story, and pollution doesn't fit with that theme, just ignore it.

You can mention scavenger teams hunting for scrap metal if you really think you need to address it. You could even have protecting scavenger teams as a plot point / mission. But if it doesn't fit with what you're trying to do, just skip it.

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Whether the focus of your story is pollution, or warfare, or interpersonal relationships, or nationalism... or something else entirely, is up to you. The way to write the story is to signal that this is a story with themes of nationalism, or a story about of pollution, about the ills of war, etc. You put your spotlight there, on the thing you want to highlight, and readers understand that the story is not one of gender identity, or coming of age, or what have you.

If you feel that the pollution must be dealt with, but it is not the focus of the story, I'd suggest, in your case, building something to "wick" that pollution away. An atmospheric phenomenon, for example, that concentrates the pollution in one teeny spot, where it is cleaned. Or a hostile and frozen planet where a changing (warming) climate is welcome to one and all. Or a capture strategy. But I'd suggest keeping this worldbuilding short and to the point, in order to keep your spotlight where you want it--on the actual theme you care about.

Good luck.

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I would be careful about too many topics. Unless pollution drives the plot forward, or is in the arc of either character development, or the story development, try leaving it out for now. An exception might be if you need to slow the action down and you get some sensory detail that includes a polluting effect, like seeing halos around light, etc. As well, be careful to avoid being anachronistic (to assume our current idea of pollution) in a future world if that’s your setting.

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Ultimately it depends on what you want to write and what you think your target audience (if you have one in mind) will want to read.

If I were you, I'd probably suspect I had an initial, perhaps a bit flimsy idea that my writer's mind now demanded needed to be deepened.

Let's say your theme is war. You'd have one type of war between nations. Perhaps some people relate to each other in warlike ways. And finally, the use of resources, the industry of constant war would be a war against nature... and perhaps nature "fights back" with cascading climate change effects? So now armies are not just destroyed by enemy armies but also by landslides and aircraft are not just taken down by enemy aircraft but also by mega hurricanes... Researching climate change should provide even more ideas.

Of course, the most likely scenario is probably that depletion of resources such as arable land and water will in fact be a cause to start wars. Maybe your world is not causing climate change with its constant warring, maybe climate change forces the people in your world to fight for the diminishing resources? (Although, I think there is a bit of a cliché warning on this one... handle with care and ingenuity...)

Or, your world may not have figured out the relationship between greenhouse gas pollution, global warming, and the other effects that will come from it. And thus be more tallyho about the whole thing and keep warring. You might even be able to deliver some "inside" commentary on the problem over the head of your ignorant characters. (I see great thematic potential for idiot senators... if you want to go down this route...)

You may even use the model to explain the climate change effects to "fumble" the explanation. Think PTSD. In world war I, it was called cowardice, and in world war II, shell shock. Using the same for climate effects you could come up with terms and explanations of climate change that aren't rooted in the actual science. Maybe the whole thing goes under the name "war rot" and it's the other's fault... maybe the others must have used some kind of chemical or bio weapon... think cold war paranoia and it shouldn't be hard at all to fumble the "greenhouse gas emissions causes global warming causes X, Y, and Z"-explanation model into "communists did it".

Or, by all means, you might use irony or humor to comment on the climate situation but by having people shrugging about it and continue warring, make a comment about the people, the nations, and the world at large. You'll probably have to build a whole society to explain that shrug. Unless you only need the proper social media platform...

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I would not mention it. Pollution from vehicles may not be a problem, just as it wasn't a problem for humans for centuries.

It only became a problem when everybody had vehicles; that is not necessarily the case in your world as described -- The military has aircraft and battleships, but perhaps the general populace does not. The number of military aircraft and battleships per capita is approximately zero.

The solution to pollution is dilution; the only time it becomes a problem is when it is heavily concentrated in once place (like a manufacturing city) or is ubiquitous; in both cases the problem is insufficient dilution.

I wouldn't introduce complications to your story unless you have a plot reason to do so. If you just want to mention it for color or realism, have some characters talk about the choking exhaust and film of it on everything, but without getting into the health problems it causes or anything else.

Like people may complain about a pest problem, ants or flies or mice or something, without you having to explain to readers why there is a pest problem in some region. There just is. It adds color and differentiation to your world.

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