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A World Avoided - New York Times front page, September 10, 2021

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CNN.com Mainpage - September 1, 2021
This is fucking terrifying, you know that?

Your writing is excellent; a lot of fictional news articles are quite bad at maintaining the kind of tone and diction we expect from mainstream news sources - too stiff, too informal, riddled with grammatical errors, horrible sentence flows, etc. Your writing, on the other hand, is basically ready for print. And the effort you put into the presentation! Don't think I've ever seen a fake article where every single element - typeface, font size, sectioning, headlines, graphics - were so dead accurate to the real thing.

I do have quite a few questions, if you don't mind.
  • An interesting point is that unlike OTL climate change, which is generally worst off on the global South's hotter climates, TTL ozone depletion would devastate the rich global North first. With UV exposure's catastrophic effects so immediate and obvious to the developed world, has there been any attempt to mitigate CFC production since the Montreal Protocol failed?
  • Love the mention of the "Museum of Plastic". Is plastic production still running full speed ahead, or has it been at least somewhat curtailed?
  • How did the butterflies affect history since 1964? How did the Soviet Union survived, and how is it dealing with UV irradiation, since it's also a mid- to high-latitude country? Is NATO disintegrating because both the US and Europe are too badly weakened by the UV crisis? What's the global geopolitical situation like, especially concerning China and India?
  • If the apocalyptic 2065 projection that you cited in the previous update comes to pass, then what hope is left for human civilisation? OTL climate change (2-3 degrees rise by 2100, depending on pace of climate pledges and green tech adoption) is increasingly judged to be catastrophic, but ultimately survivable. By comparison, TTL's UV poisoining is not just rendering great swathes of the planet increasingly uninhabitable, but causing the progressive collapse of global agriculture. If things are already this bad in 2001, then how many societies would remain functioning by mid-century - when 1) even the tropics' ozone levels have collapsed, 2) DNA-mutating UV radiation is up 650%, riddling plants and animals alike with cancer, and 3) spending 5 minutes outdoors in Washington, D.C. is enough to get a sunburn?
  • TTL popular culture must be horribly dark and despondent. Considering the increasing popularity of "doomer" pessimism in OTL media (i.e. r/collapse, climate fiction, etc.), things must be at least an order of magnitude worse in TTL. I'm not at all surprised by the mention of ecological fascism and terrorism.
 
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This is fucking terrifying, you know that?

Your writing is excellent; a lot of fictional news articles are quite bad at maintaining the kind of tone and diction we expect from mainstream news sources - too stiff, too informal, riddled with grammatical errors, horrible sentence flows, etc. Your writing, on the other hand, is basically ready for print. And the effort you put into the presentation! Don't think I've ever seen a fake article where every single element - typeface, font size, sectioning, headlines, graphics - were so dead accurate to the real thing.

Not only that, but they feel like the articles you would be reading about in a world on the verge of collapse.

  • TTL popular culture must be horribly dark and despondent. Considering the increasing popularity of "doomer" pessimism in OTL media (i.e. r/collapse, climate fiction, etc.), things must be at least an order of magnitude worse in TTL. I'm not at all surprised by the mention of ecological fascism and terrorism.

To give you an example, here is the kind of things people in the Black Death produced.

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If you're seeing massive death rates and declines in standards of living, then the sense of dread is justified.
 
Your writing is excellent; a lot of fictional news articles are quite bad at maintaining the kind of tone and diction we expect from mainstream news sources - too stiff, too informal, riddled with grammatical errors, horrible sentence flows, etc.

Thank you! Verisimilitude is definitely one of my biggest goals with this project.

An interesting point is that unlike OTL climate change, which is generally worst off on the global South's hotter climates, TTL ozone depletion would devastate the rich global North first. With UV exposure's catastrophic effects so immediate and obvious to the developed world, has there been any attempt to mitigate CFC production since the Montreal Protocol failed?

On a national level, yeah. The link between ozone depletion and CFCs was made in the late 1980s, and Canada and several European nations took action to ban many CFCs by 2000. The U.S passed a watered-down bill in the late 2000s that banned the most harmful CFCs, and China, India, and most of South America have lowered the use of CFCs.
However, other ozone depleting chemicals like HCFC's are still in used in many parts of the world.

Love the mention of the "Museum of Plastic". Is plastic production still running full speed ahead, or has it been at least somewhat curtailed?

Plastic production is lower than OTL only due to worse economic conditions.

How did the butterflies affect history since 1964? How did the Soviet Union survived, and how is it dealing with UV irradiation, since it's also a mid- to high-latitude country? Is NATO disintegrating because both the US and Europe are too badly weakened by the UV crisis? What's the global geopolitical situation like, especially concerning China and India?
The 1964 POD is a professor deciding not to take a job at the University of California, Irvine. There is effectively no divergence with OTL until the mid 1990s, which is when the ozone hole really gets bad. The Soviet Union is basically just Russia, and is comparatively stable. UV exposure is lessened at higher latitudes (since it hits at an angle), but the UV reflective properties of snow means the country has to basically hunker down in the winter.

NATO is widely seen as weak and ineffective since the Soviets stopped being a major adversary, and the German PM's comments are because NATO took no action after a naval skirmish between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea. China is America's largest economic partner, and to satiate the CCP and to keep cheap goods flowing in, America's allowed China to take some more aggressive actions in Taiwan and the South China Sea. Local state governors and Naxalites in India have just as much or more power than New Delhi at this point, neutering it as a major force on the global stage.

Otherwise, geopolitically, most of Africa is de jure borders only, while protests and sectarian violence is common the Middle East. America is far more isolationist than OTL, and that void has been partially filled by China and Western Europe.

By comparison, TTL's UV poisoining is not just rendering great swathes of the planet increasingly uninhabitable, but causing the progressive collapse of global agriculture. If things are already this bad in 2001, then how many societies would remain functioning by mid-century - when 1) even the tropics' ozone levels have collapsed, 2) DNA-mutating UV radiation is up 650%, riddling plants and animals alike with cancer, and 3) spending 5 minutes outdoors in Washington, D.C. is enough to get a sunburn?

Everything you mentioned in that paragraph is completely correct. There are far more doomsday preppers than OTL.

TTL popular culture must be horribly dark and despondent. Considering the increasing popularity of "doomer" pessimism in OTL media (i.e. r/collapse, climate fiction, etc.), things must be at least an order of magnitude worse in TTL. I'm not at all surprised by the mention of ecological fascism and terrorism.

This is true, and though there is fiction depicting the probable end result of this timeline, since the climate situation is far more dire ITTL, general audiences want something so they can forget the horrors of real life. Science fiction is generally more like Star Trek than Mad Max.
 
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This is true, and though there is fiction depicting the probable end result of this timeline, since the climate situation is far more dire ITTL, general audiences want something so they can forget the horrors of real life. Science fiction is generally more like Star Trek than Mad Max.

So fiction is 1930s escapism or the more recent trend of the 1990s hyper-nostalgia?
 
It's definitely true that the planes did a lot more damage because of their full tanks of fuel, but that was the point - the hijackers deliberately chose planes taking off from eastern airports on transcontinental flights to maximize their fuel loads.
I suspect that the terrorists took planes full of fuel on purpose, to maximize the damage of their attack.

Your professor makes a good point. The 10,000 gallons of kerosene remaining on each aircraft burned at 1,500 - 1,800°F (800 - 1,000°C). Steel loses 50% of its structural strength at 600°C, and 90% at 1,000°C; more than enough to weaken the towers' frame to the point of collapse.

On the other hand, the fuel actually burnt itself out within 10 minutes; but the combustible interior fittings (rugs, curtains, furniture, paper, etc.) ignited by the initial fire kept burning at extreme temperatures, sustaining the heat transfer that eventually brought the towers down. A plane running on empty might have lead to a much smaller and less intense fire initially, but even that might have only delayed the towers' collapse for a few more hours - the structural damage from extreme impact velocity would remain, the fire would inevitably becomes self-sustaining, and there was simply no way for any firefighting effort to even reach (let alone effectively combat) a blaze between 77-95 floors above ground. And as @Wolfram have said, the hijackers knew about a high fuel load's effectiveness anyway.


Huh, there's actually a thread discussing this scenario posted four years ago. It's a more plausible outcome, but I still doubt the WTC complex would survive in the long run: the South Tower earthquake was, by all accounts, too weak to meaningfully destabilise the relatively untouched foundations of the North Tower. It was very much secondary to the weakened steel frame that eventually caused the sagging floors to "pancake" downwards.

United 175 crashing would indeed mean the South Tower’s survival, but the North Tower's collapse would have almost certainly damaged it well beyond repair. The facade would be pummeled by thousands of tons of debris, with secondary fires being ignited across the tower's length (as happened with 7 WTC).

Eventually, the ruined South Tower would have to be torn down; as I've said above, both the economic and psychological impact cannot be understated. Controlled demolitions are banned in NYC for obvious reasons; the only option would be to gradually dismantle the South Tower floor by floor. An unprecedented and immensely costly undertaking, but still less so than the equally unprecedented repair and reconstruction of the towers - which would also lead to far less economic gain, since who the hell would want to return?

Billions would have saw the North Tower burning and collapsing on live TV, just like OTL; even if no expense was spared in restoring the Twin Towers, would any corporate tenant be willing to put their headquarters at risk of instant destruction? Would any of their employees be willing to live and work where if anything went wrong, they might have to choose between being buried alive and having to jump to their death? Note that a pure repair means that incorporating major design changes, such as the new 1 WTC's improved security features, would be flat-out impossible. The restored Twin Towers would instantly become a financial black hole and public relations disaster.

The quoted scenario below would probably be the likeliest outcome.
Thanks for this little presentation.
 
Christ. how do these people go about their daily lives? Reading this shit is terrifying.

A quick look through some random posts gives me a really weird image of what this community is like.

It seems to be an eclectic mix of people with severe depression stuck in a state of eternal pessimism from negativity in the news and people stoking the fires (I assume teenagers because I’m getting flashbacks to middle school), by mixing in screaming rage at everything and everyone imaginable they want to blame.

I mean, I have depression too, I’m not gonna pretend everything’s okay with the world, there’s quite a few problems and I’m personally not too hopeful about some of them.

But damn, please wait and see how things go before giving up, it’s not an apocalypse yet, who knows, at least some things could get better soon, or at least get a better coping mechanism than a black hole of negativity, and try to see the positive in the world too (You’re lucky enough to exist in the same space and time as poison dart frogs, if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is).
 
It seems to be an eclectic mix of people with severe depression stuck in a state of eternal pessimism from negativity in the news and people stoking the fires (I assume teenagers because I’m getting flashbacks to middle school), by mixing in screaming rage at everything and everyone imaginable they want to blame.

I mean, I have depression too, I’m not gonna pretend everything’s okay with the world, there’s quite a few problems and I’m personally not too hopeful about some of them.

But damn, please wait and see how things go before giving up, it’s not an apocalypse yet, who knows, at least some things could get better soon, or at least get a better coping mechanism than a black hole of negativity, and try to see the positive in the world too (You’re lucky enough to exist in the same space and time as poison dart frogs, if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is).
I needed to read that lmao, reading some of those threads disturbed me quite a bit. Thank god we don't live in a tl like A World Avoided where their views would be entirely justified.

They speak about "the Collapse" (capitalized) with such certainty, it's... scary.
 
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I needed to read that lmao, reading some of those threads disturbed me quite a bit. Thank god we don't live in a tl like A World Avoided where their views would be entirely justified.

They speak about "the Collapse" (capitalized) with such certainty, it's... scary.

Huh, where can I find that TL?
 
A quick look through some random posts gives me a really weird image of what this community is like.

It seems to be an eclectic mix of people with severe depression stuck in a state of eternal pessimism from negativity in the news and people stoking the fires (I assume teenagers because I’m getting flashbacks to middle school), by mixing in screaming rage at everything and everyone imaginable they want to blame.

I mean, I have depression too, I’m not gonna pretend everything’s okay with the world, there’s quite a few problems and I’m personally not too hopeful about some of them.

But damn, please wait and see how things go before giving up, it’s not an apocalypse yet, who knows, at least some things could get better soon, or at least get a better coping mechanism than a black hole of negativity, and try to see the positive in the world too (You’re lucky enough to exist in the same space and time as poison dart frogs, if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is).

Again, thank god "ozone layer denialism" didn't become a thing.
 
It's not a timeline, but a 2009 NASA research paper simulating a counterfactual where no effort was put into fighting ozone depletion - the paper referred to this alternate Earth, devastated by rising UV exposure, as "A World Avoided". This then inspired @ItsMyKetchup to create his CNN website and NYT front page graphics, taking place in that setting.

What the actual fuck.

Not surprising though - even when the human race numbered just a few million people, armed with nothing but bow and spear, we still managed to drive whole species extinct and permanently alter entire ecosystems. It's a miracle we didn't annihilate ourselves and every other living species on Earth as soon as we found out how to make bronze tools.
 
I presume the POTUS was either killed or the WH directly hit? If the former, he must've not gone to Florida on the day, so another POD. Otherwise, very nice!
It actually hits the Capitol. Post-attack legislation is much more severe, leading to a War on Terror times ten and a Middle Eastern disaster
 
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