Life is loss and to rail against it is folly. But when life cannot be easily lost, it becomes most precious.
By the end of the first century of the third millennium, mankind’s nemesis – our addiction to fossil fuels – initiates our probable extinction. Millions, then billions, die from famines precipitated by massive floods and prolonged droughts. Violent, deadly weather becomes the norm, and entire American metropolises are flattened and conflagrated by wave after wave of colossal tornadoes and titanic electrical storms.
As the devastation increases and intensifies, the more affluent countries with aging and chronically ill populations lose the highest percentage of inhabitants. Poorer countries fare much better because extreme depredation is nothing new.
Finally, when hope is flickering and all humans, both the haves and have nots, realize they are doomed, draconian powers and absolute control over most of the available remaining resources are given to a select group of scientists chosen by their peers from around the globe. In effect, the world becomes one country ruled by a scientific intelligentsia that immediately ends the “age” of fossil fuels and begins earth’s restoration.
All personal vehicles are confiscated, and a usufructuary attitude is adopted concerning private property. Fast-growing, incredibly-strong, environmentally-friendly bamboo becomes the main construction material, forming the floors, walls, roofs and water pipes of post-apocalypse housing. Money loses its meaning when limited resources are equally shared by all, and convicted hoarders are summarily executed. All humans are equal is this decimated society, including, to their everlasting credit, the dictating scientists. Adequate medical care and decent schools become a priority. Through rigid water conservation, adequate irrigation provided via underground, protected channels and the development of hardy, drought-resistant crops, earth’s food supply gradually increases.
Within a hundred years, the remaining 600 million humans are beginning to live in a more stable and healthy world. Earth’s regenerative powers are unleashed now that energy is being produced by renewable, minimally-polluting technologies.
By 2350, mankind has harnessed the power of gravity. Photovoltaic cells and wind turbines become museum pieces. Before gravity-generated power was available, humans were legally required to migrate to cooler regions in the summer and warmer regions in the winter to conserve solar-generated energy, because the mining of rare earth metals, needed for solar power technologies, was a constant source of pollution.
Much of the time and energy and resources that once went into weapons development and warfare are redirected into saving lives, and by 2520 all diseases are eliminated.
Then, within a generation, man’s oldest dream – immortality – becomes a reality, as those gene- manipulating thaumaturgists (genetic engineers) stymie the “Grim Reaper.” All humans are eligible to become ageless, but they must agree to be reversibly sterilized, or soon the “new” world’s resources would be stressed by overpopulation, if there were few deaths and many births.
Boredom has always been the bane of mankind, so humans are encouraged to change their primary occupations every thirty years. Still, there are more than a few suicides!
The Internet has evolved into the “Meld.” A small chip is imbedded painlessly below the scalp and is powered by body-generated energy. The Meld can’t be interrupted because it is its own energy source.
The Meld enables one to connect mentally with other people, in groups or individually, at various levels of intimacy. Instead of traveling to Paris, you could “Meld” with a Parisian and experience the city the way he does: see what he sees; feel what he feels; taste what he eats.
Because of the Meld, people rarely verbally communicate. Speech between individuals who are not related is considered more intimate than sex.
Crime is negligible because the only two punishments are so devastating: banishment from the Meld (resulting in complete social isolation), and death (which certainly has a “sting” when possible everlasting life is being lost).
By 2850, Operation Arachnid, without polluting spacecraft, has discovered intelligent life millions of light years from Earth. By using gravity to send signals through the four-dimensional fabric of our universe, it is now possible to search for kindred spirits at distances no manmade vehicle could ever cover.
A two-dimensional prose analogy would be comparing the universe to a gigantic spider’s web that stretched from New York City to San Francisco. It would take a spider in New York City decades to physically travel across this web to San Francisco. But by depressing a single silken strand, that spider could instantly alert a spider in San Francisco that it existed.
Black holes are now theorized to be pieces of the membrane that contained and restrained the incredible amount of matter and energy that formed our universe after the “Big Bang” Now these pieces are gathering that primordial soup back together, until they again produce new “Big Bangs” resulting in millions of new, smaller universes.
In 3012, mankind has become Earth’s steward – as long as Earth is unpolluted and her resources unstressed, humans will survive. And while humans can theoretically live forever, they are not indestructible. This sense of vulnerability leads many to still believe in a higher power – an immortal, indestructible God.
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