Challenge #02605-G048: Atomic Element Number Six
Can you Please write a Humans-Are-Space-Orcs Story about Humans commonly wasting Resources (like in the Video) on the Production of Things, Goods... that Aliens can do cheap/better/with less effort? (Like Coalpower/Atomicenergy...)
Thanks in Advance -- Mike
Deathworlders live in harsh conditions that should eliminate most life. This is known. Therefore, one might expect that Deathworlders would be frugal with their resource expenditure. One would be wrong. Most of them evolve with short lives and reproductive cycles in the earlier stages of their lifespans, and therefore don't think much further than what they have now and what they can get tomorrow.
It is called Stopthink. When something is beyond a Deathworlder's comprehension, they stop thinking about it. How big is that ocean? Infinite. Stop thinking. How far away is the sun? It's in the sky. Stop thinking. Stopthink is useful in the earlier stages of evolution, where staring at clouds and wondering how they move gets one into the mouth of the nearest hungry predator. However, when civilisation occurs, Stopthink is hazardous. Humans are the worst at doing it. Or the best, since they've had so much practice. It all depends on perspective.
How much pollution can the air hold? The smoke seems to go away just fine. Stop thinking. How much toxicity can the ocean hold? It goes on forever, so it can hold infinity. Stop thinking. How much drinkable water can there be? It will always rain tomorrow. Stop thinking. We don't need this, throw it away, it is now gone. Stop thinking. This sort of behaviour is responsible for more extinction events on Deathworlds than the Deathworlds themselves.
Getting Deathworlders to understand and prevent their own Stopthink is a hurdle that some still have trouble surmounting. Especially Humans. They don't understand how copious resources can dwindle away to nothing until it happens. The "just one" principal has caused more species to end and more resources to expire on Deathworlds than might be believed.
To explain "just one"... imagine a large cookie jar in a shared domicile. It is enough to hold, perhaps, five hundred cookies. This is a number too large for the average Human to count, so the supply seems more than sufficient for each housemate. For the sake of this experiment, imagine that the house is shared by seven people. There are, theoretically, enough cookies for everyone.
Each Human takes one cookie at a time. One for each upon the introduction of the cookie jar. They all agree to take only one cookie a day. This, of course, breaks down because every single Human in the house realises that there's no way to police this and nobody will notice if they take one when nobody else is looking. In less than a day, half the cookies are gone.
At this point, more rational cogniscents would ration the remaining supply and enforce some form of policing. Or, perhaps, divide the remaining cookies evenly between the housemates and call the honour system broken. Humans are many things, but rational is not one of them. There would be a big fight in which every single housemate would swear blindly that they had only ever taken one cookie as agreed. Many, or all of them will be lying.
Then the housemates will begin taking more cookies so that the other housemates don't get more than they do.
This is, more or less, how you get seven Humans to eat five hundred cookies in one day. It is also a microcosm of how Humans have treated resources ever since they could build cities. Then came the concept of conspicuous consumption. To stretch the above analogy, the most affluent of the housemates uses the fact that they pay the power bill to take three times as many cookies as the others, bake them into cupcakes, and coat those cakes with gold. Then they blog about eating them.
This is the theory behind slashed sleeves in the medieval era, lace throughout most of Human history, limousines following the advent of the internal combustion engine, and gold-plated, diamond-covered phone cases in the industrial era. The more you spend on something, the more powerful you are.
Which, of course, lead to Diamond Water. The most expensive carbonated beverage in Terran history.
Diamonds are carbon. This is common knowledge. Therefore, burning diamonds to make carbon dioxide and then infusing that into water to create what can be accomplished in a much similar process for thirty times the cost.
It got worse. Or, depending on your perspective, better.
This is life aboard the Stellar Yacht Princess Powder Puff. Or rather, it is life for the owner, Unununium Jones. Uni to her friends. She sleeps on a bed of organically-grown down, in a frame made of platinum and studded with gemstones. Her bedsheets are fine linen shot through with threads of gold. Her sleepwear is made from cotton grown on a planet tailored for its production. Everything she owns... sparkles. Including the water.
When she rises, she strides into a bathroom that is almost a palace of cleanliness. Everything is white. Chalcedony, marble, granite, the silver fixtures gleam and glisten. The bathtub a servant fills for her effervesces. Diamond water. Laden with soaps, scents, and unguents to fill her every moment with bliss. Even her toilet uses expense. The water there is harvested from cometary masses orbiting black holes, and has risked thousands of lives in its acquisition. It is flushed, thoughtlessly, into the void. She can afford the Years it takes to acquire more.
When she drinks, she drinks wine from the most prestigious wineries. Or a Diamond Soda if she wishes to remain sober.
Start with Diamond Water... infused with the carbon dioxide made from burning pure diamonds...
Sugar, chemically, is a long-chain hydrocarbon. Take the carbon dioxide from burned diamonds and chemically manipulate it until you have pure sucrose. In other words, Diamond Sugar.
Gently stir in the sucrose that has also been made from diamonds. Careful not to waste a single bubble, since it costs more than your worth to let it pop...
For flavouring, there are two thoughts... just a blessing of scent, to fool the senses, so that one can taste the diamonds, or hand-grown, organic, artisanal crops that have been hand-harvested and brewed in heritage vats and never gone near a laboratory until the high-pressure process that allows those cordials to blend with the aforementioned Diamond Water sweetened with Diamond Sugar.
The maid approaching Uni Jones with her morning Diamond Cola has not been briefed as to Madame's tastes. It is already in a cut crystal glass with ice harvested from comets and a straw grown for the purpose of being in her drink. Exclusively farmed on her yacht by expert technicians.
Uni had her ear buds in and didn't hear the approaching fizz. She merely held out her hand and waited for the glass to meet her fingers. She accepted it and took a sip. Then grimaced and erupted from her bath in anger.
"You let this go flat!" She flicked the Diamond Cola all over the luckless maid's pristine white uniform and face. "You're going to pay for every Second you wasted you dumb ingrate!" The glass landed harmlessly in the bathwater as Uni Jones tantrumed out of the room. Screaming, "Ugh! This is the worst possible thing! Get me a fresh Diamond Cola, somebody, and call my masseuse and beauty people now! My bath has been ruined!"
The luckless maid would be summarily fired for daring to ruin Uni Jones. She would be sent to a planetary body that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jones Enterprises Incorporated and there work the rest of her days to pay for a single cola. If she was lucky, her children would be permitted to cancel the debt upon her death. The training regime would be reviewed, and apprentice servers would not be allowed near Uni Jones thereafter.
Her daily routine, her every waking moment, was a work of art with herself as the primary player. She could afford it all and not even notice the expense.
It takes ten men with their feet in the mud to keep one man with his head in the clouds, went the ancient Human saying. In the case of Uni Jones, it might as well be:
It takes ten billion people up to their hips in crap to keep one person with their head up their ass.
 The workforce living there subsist mainly on a mixture of peanuts and corn. They don't understand where the cotton goes, or why it is the chief source of funding, but the more people like Uni Jones there are, the less corn they have to eat. Peanuts, a byproduct of enriching the soil for cotton, are always available. The people don't get clean water. The cotton always does.
 Carbon is carbon, no matter what processes it goes through. People claim they can taste the diamonds, but they are fooling everyone including themselves.
 Cut from an actual crystal grown in zero gravity inside an asteroid in conditions virtually impossible to replicate. The manufacture of the set was a year's worth of research and calculation before the first tool went near the impeccable stone.
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