If not Global Warming, Then What?
Continuing along my steam-train of thought with the question of the week, I decided to consider the environmental issues that would be associated with a developing world that ran on steam. Even in the real world, power-plants rely on steam generation to create electricity: nuclear, coal-fired, and gas-fired plants boil water to create pressurized steam that spins turbine generators. Without the internal combustion engine, cars and other motorized vehicles would use steam or electricity for propulsion in this alternate world. Since non-renewable resources must be used regardless, the amount of water being vaporized in the millions of steam-motors all over the world must be the object of criticism. One can only imagine how much steam would be required to drive the many vehicles in the United States, let-alone all the vehicles in the world. The PSA Billboard assignment for four-and-a-half stars proved to be an excellent outlet for this fictional environmental concern.
Go Green, Ditch the Steam
Today was no different than any other in Detroit. A heavy haze glowed red with the rising sun, impeding the rays of light from reaching their intended destination. The fog grew denser each day in Detroit: while its increase in intensity was hardly noticeable from one day to the next, the change in the city’s air-space over the years was anything but subtle. In nineteen-ninety-eight, visibility in the city had been reduced to around four hundred yards, and the twenty years since then saw further reductions.
Along with the increase in fog came another environmental phenomenon, a ten percent drop in the water-level of the bordering Lake St. Clair. Experts visited from the science institute in Washington D.C. to study the changes in the Detroit environment. It came as no surprise when the statement was aired declaring a correlation between the rise in fog and fall in water-level. Which one was the root cause was easily answered; the fog of course was to blame.
But what exactly was the fog, and why had it continued to hang over the Detroit skyline all these years? The experts gave the haze a special name, emberatic-brumulous fog, stemming from its two primary components: steam and soot. Being the highest producer of coal-fired steam-propelled automobiles in the country, Detroit and its atmosphere was slowly choking to death on the by-products of its only industry. Every working-age person in Detroit was employed by the Detroit auto-makers and drove a Detroit-built car, and one in every five Americans outside Detroit that owned a car owned a Detroit-built car as well.
Though the auto-manufacturers had claimed that vehicular-produced steam quickly entered the cycle of precipitation, they began to back-pedal their initial assurances after the government statement. The scientists concluded that, due to the overabundance of steam and ash together in the air, the steam was holding onto the ash in the air, preventing the natural evaporation and clearing of the fog. Intentionally or not, the auto-manufacturers had lied to Detroit, and now Detroit was suffering.
The National Coalition on Global Drought, NCGD, entered the spotlight after the report. Lobbying in D.C. for stricter ash-emission regulations had been unsuccessful before, but with the support of the Detroit Auto-Worker’s Union NCGD was able to gain influence in the Capital. Soon, billboards promoting electric cars became prevalent throughout the United States, encouraging consumers to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles. Limiting steam power to major power-plants was the goal for the coalition; containing steam and ash production to such highly regulated facilities would greatly reduce emberatic-brumulous fog in Detroit and the other cities that were beginning to call attention to their own problems with oddly persistent haze. In time, after enough people take the advice posted on the billboards, perhaps Detroit will once again see the light of day without having to squint through ash-colored fog.
Leave it to the Lobbyists
The assignment specified to use a six hundred and eighty by three hundred canvas size to mimic the proportions of a real billboard, however to make Instagram show the whole image, I had to double the height. The brown spaces at the top and bottom of the image are not part of the billboard.
How it all Came to Be
I prepared a video tutorial on YouTube on how to create this image. The video can also be watched on my tutorial post embedded below.