Endless Blue – Week 60 – Occlusion of the Pristine Sapphire   Leave a comment

Ecology

Occlusion of the Pristine Sapphire

Supporters of the Source and to a lesser extent Pantheon worshipers have recently come into opposition with the church of Olyhydra over many ideals other than dogma, but one in particular seems to be a dividing line: the environment.  Olyhydrans push the progress of piscean advancement through the sacrifice of nature, resulting in pollution that is having an impact on sealife and sentient life alike. Pantheonists and Source believers are pushing for a respect of the natural order through the elimination of wanton waste and increased sanitation.  The Lumulus are partially to blame as well as the Olyhydrans due to the handiwork of their oresmiths, while the Kelpygmies are unknowingly on the same side as the Pantheonists.

Those whom argue against the threat of pollution cite the connectedness of biology, the chain of life.  There is no such thing as waste.  The corpse of any sea animal becomes the food of scavengers, the meat consumed by predators, the bones digested by polyps and worms, the remains reduced to silt that eventually is consumed by amoebas.  Everything is broken down to its constituents, its most basic parts, and used by the vitae to grow new life.  If not, the seas would have been filled up with the flotsam and jetsam of decayed bodies ages ago.  This viewpoint is countered by those that see the encroaching threat of pollution, that the natural order moves at its own speed, and the species of the Known World have outpaced that speed a number of times over.

Pollution on a world immersed in water?  Without the ability to burn fossil fuels, how could the waters of Elqua become polluted?  “Pollution” is a strange idea for pisceans.  Every action produces it — disturbance of sand along the sea bed, eating food produces trails, red tides produced by algae blooms, ejection of bodily waste, etc.  It naturally occurs at low levels; it is simply an accepted part of life.  Nature has taken this into account, worked it into the cycles of life.  Sharks with bloodscent, the filtering of coral polyps, the scavengers of the dead, all have adapted to the unavoidable wake of pollution of merely existing.

Even some of the more extreme cases of pollution are natural, the result of environmental change.  Chemicals released by seeps, for example.  Cracks in the planet’s mantle allow pockets of gasses and/or liquids to come bubbling up to the waters above and are released into the oceans.  The added chemical (or absence in the aftermath of chemical reaction) can significantly alter the consistency of an area, making the area hostile to normal life.  Methane is a common chemical found dispersed.  Sometimes it’s the absence of a chemical, like hypoxic water where there is little oxygen to be extracted for piscean respiration.  And these area continue to expand so long as the seep keeps spewing its contents unabated.

But it is the actions of piscean life itself that has hastened the rate of pollution on Elqua.  The growing need of an expanding populace requires greater amounts of resources, and Olyhydran dogma has reinforced the notion that if something exists, it exists for exploitation by faithful.  Strip mining is actually quite well known, not so much for metallic ores but for sources of precious jewels and other basic elements.  Clearing of kelp forests and coral reefs creates  massive amounts of tiny particles, detrius that drifts along the currents like dust.  This has a double impact on breathable water, as it destroys some of the very regulating ecosystems that evolved to handled such pollution.

The Kouton homeseas have taken the brunt of Elqua’s pollution.  As far back as the Occupation, the currents of Elqua pulled the pollution southward to Kouton Bay, where the waters now are cold and brackish.  However, there is little sympathy for the situation coming from those that still charge the Kouton race with collaboration during the Kraken Occupancy, finding it justice of the most sublime.  But it may be a pyrrhic victory, as the Kouton Bay is the spawning waters of many of the Endless Blue’s core dietary staples.  The disease of blackgill is spreading, especially among the Kouton, and many point to this as the link between pollution and the inability of the natural order to respond.

Pollution may sink or rise, depending on its density, and will find a depth where it is neutrally buoyant.  This means that not only will pollution collect along the ocean floor (where most of the society constructs its buildings), but can also extend upward.  Entire “layers” of pollution can form, much like the deep sound channel, and blanket areas of ocean between depths.  The aphotic layer (the deepest) may be pristine from contamination, but the euphotic directly above could be virtually opaque.  Even the sargassum fields are a form of surface pollution that is created by dislodged aquatic flora, concentrated into a tangled mass by the ocean currents.

Even the usage of magic has its effect on the pollution rate.  Siltcloud and Inkspray are common spells meant for obscurement that mimic pollution, based on adaption by real animals.  The ink squirted by optopi is meant to blind an attacker, but the expulsion remains in the waters, slowly dispersing on the currents.  Many echinoderms disperse the silt from the sea floor to create a fog that blocks sight so they may quickly swim away.  Debris and sediment, as small particulate matter with little mass, can be swept across oceans by the inertia of flowing water, passively following a path of circulation that might end up depositing the pollution in an eddy, bay, or other aquatic cul-de-sac.  This is compounded by the Chelon Xanthellaettes, the coral-shapers, as they ignorantly tap into the ley lines along the ocean floor and siphon away vital energy from thriving coral reefs and other ecosystems.

This conflict about the effect of piscean progress is bitter.  Both sides feel acrimonious toward the other, and it is difficult to reconcile the two when both have valid views.  The Church of Olyhydra charges those pro-ecology with wanting to prevent progress and stifle economics, while in response those same activists charge Olyhydrans with short sighted greed and egocentrism.  It is hard to argue that resource development has not improved the standard of living in the Known World, but also it is hard to discount that process to attain it has deleteriously affected the world.

“Eco Over Ego!”
— a common anti-pollution slogan.

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