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The world's ecology has changed radically since the rise of modern corporations. Over a century of almost unbridled pollution, rollbacks of emissions laws, and lack of economic incentives has taken the world to a point of no return. Global warming was halted by the addition of a lighter-than-air radiation reflecting compound, UH-4, to the atmosphere from massive Atmosphere Control Facilities in 2025. These continuously manufacture and pump UH-4 into the atmosphere, cooling the atmosphere by reflecting excess sunlight into space. These plants must be kept working at all costs, because UH-4 has a short half-life in the upper atmosphere, only about a year and a half, and breaks down into a nonreflective gas and a metallic solid, leading to occasional flurries of "metal snow" around the poles. UH-4 is also a mild carcinogen over long term exposures, as are the products of its decay, leading to a tripling of cancer rates in northern latitudes since 2027. However, when faced with the alternative of flooding, starvation, economic collapse, and a breakdown in the corporate order, no viable alternative exists.

The Equator

The equator has the smallest amount of UH-4 content in the air, being farthest from the ACFs in the Arctic Circle. After the ozone layer broke into the separate ozone shields, the equator has been bathed in well above average levels of ultraviolet radiation. Thus, this previously biologically rich area is now a waste land in most parts of the world (with the Amazon in parts of Brazil and Indonesia being the notable exceptions, thanks to governmental and corporate conservation efforts). Temperatures run to the extremes in these latitudes and significant stretches of land have been turned to desert due to annual average temperatures of 55 degrees Celsius and severe UV radiation. These deserts, also referred to as Sterile Deserts, are almost utterly devoid of life. Described as "a hell on earth" by ecologists, the little life that remains in the region has adapted marvelously to the new, strange conditions. The largest of these deserts is the Nigerian Sterile Desert, in the Nigerian Union.


Although non-human creatures are deemed a waste of space by mega-corporations, it is their very attempts to eradicate them which allow them to survive in the present day (Dystopian creatures are immune to all diseases and common discriminating poisons). Because of either UH-4 or radiation related cancer-risk, only animals with smaller lifespans or those that received conservation efforts from humanity have survived. The shorter life-spans also accelerate evolution, allowing creatures such as rodents and canines to adapt to the new urban environment. By and large, the most common animals in a Metropolis are "Cheetah Rats" which have become faster to avoid Pest Control, as well as allowing packs of them to raid garbage compactors for food and escape without being crushed. Arcologies often have an atmosphere of enriched Oxygen content, which is a perfect condition for insect and arachnid growth, the standard varieties of spider now grow to 2.5 times their modern day size, and have a strong resistance to common disinfectants. It is from these creatures that the original Spider Grenade was developed. Naturally these "eight legged rats" are supported by a food chain of equally enlarged airborne insects and beetles. While there is a far greater amount of organic detritus outside the Ecologies, the conditions of the outside atmosphere are too harsh for them. On the other side of the city, richer citizens are able to afford the latest fashions from PetCorp, a comparatively small company which panders to the demand for designer pets, beyond merely breeding efforts. PetCorp has created more new species through custom-order genetic modification than otherwise survive in the Dystopian age.

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