Is it possible to have a planet without a certain kind of environment? Like a world without tundra or deserts?
In a word: Absolutely!
In many, many more words (and a picture):
You have several options here. The first and most obvious one is simply this: Do whatever the hell you want. If you want your world to have never seen snow, then go for it! No rainforests? Be my guest!
But since you’re asking about possibilities, I’m assuming you want something more scientific than that. And I’m always happy to oblige.
Let’s establish something that is important to keep in mind when discussing fictional non-Earth worlds:
We know how Earth works and how it supports life. We know how other real single-biome planets work that do not support life. But we can’t know everything about things we haven’t discovered. Since our life is the only kind we know, it might be possible that somewhere out there, a planet that we cannot imagine living on actually does manage to support life. Extra-terrestrial life could potentially work in a variety of different ways, as could ecosystems and atmospheres and all other planetary components.
This can be less flexible if you’re talking about sticking humans onto other worlds. We know that humans need certain things to live (water, oxygen, etc.), so if you’re taking humans as we know them, then you’ll need to write a world that is prepared to support them.
So…how would you write a biome out of a world in order to support life as we know it?
There are several ways you can do this, as long as you remember that the key to any ecosystem is balance. Part of the problem with single-biome worlds supporting life is that they don’t offer any type of balance. Not enough plant life means not enough oxygen, too much flora with too little fauna might mean too much oxygen. So if you nix a specific biome (let’s say we kill off the hottest biomes, deserts and rainforests), then you need to make sure you give a sufficient placeholder. (i.e. If you erase a rainforest and replace it with nothing but dirt, then you have eliminated a potentially vital source of oxygen from the planet, thus upsetting the balance.)
Wait, so how do you kill off the equator-biomes of Earth?
Let’s imagine a planet:
The axis doesn’t tilt. This does several things, but it would most prominently:
– eliminate seasons
– isolate climates/environments/biomes
Here, you’ve got a planet that’s probably much farther from it’s sun than Earth is from Sol. Or it is orbiting a much cooler star. Either way, you’ve got to deal with the fact that the sun will always be hitting each part of the planet with the exact same intensity. You can place it closer, if you want, and have an uninhabitable equator and people only living on the poles, where the sun doesn’t shine so intensely (but you NEVER have nights!).
And there, you’ve given yourself an environment that could possibly kiss hot climates good-bye. This offers a chance for global balance (though individual cities and countries might not feel that balance). You can place water anywhere you like, just remember that it’s basically required.
How you decide to balance the eco-system of your world is up to you, but just based on the basic elements of how Earth’s biomes are created, how seasons and climates affect one another and change over time, you can do a lot to manipulate the characteristics of a new world.
And also notice that in this physical planet/climate/biome manipulation, we’ve created some really interesting culture possibilities just by default.
Gosh darn it, but worldbuilding is fun.
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