We always think we have more time: time to solve our oil dependency problem; time to reduce carbon emissions; time to repair damage to the environment; time to find peace in the Middle East.
We think technology is the ultimate solution: medical technology cures more diseases and leads to longer, more productive lives; information is ubiquitous, the Internet connects everyone and everything; products and services get exponentially better, faster, and cheaper. The economy has become simultaneously global and local, empowering each individual to connect to, sell to, and influence anyone, anywhere.
Yet, diseases are spreading faster and are more aggressive than ever before. Climate change has become irreversible. Increasingly, violent natural disasters, climate shifts, and water shortages are causing massive population migration and civil wars. More areas of the world are becoming uninhabitable. The worldwide economy and the world’s stock markets are increasingly erratic and unreliable. Political and religious tensions are erupting everywhere. Terrorist attacks and wars are an everyday grim reality, now affecting every part of the world.
The world is in despair.
China, having become the principal world producer of goods, continues to experience exponential economic growth, which is the only thing allowing it to withstand the global crisis. But its voracious appetite for oil is creating massive shortages and sky-high prices on the world markets. Unfortunately, investments in alternative energy sources have been too few, and have come too late. Most countries’ economies will collapse before they can achieve energy independence.
In a desperate attempt to control what is left of the planet’s oil supply, some industrialized countries finally give up all pretense of following international law and seize military control of oil-rich zones. The occupied countries retaliate, which is then reciprocated by more violent occupation. In the vicious circle of escalating violence, rebel “shadow forces” form and gain power against the invaders. In the late 20s, these forces acquire enhanced dirty bombs which they use in attacks against London, Los Angeles, and Toronto, resulting in a million civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, China is building up a massive energy infrastructure, constructing dams of dizzying proportions without environmental oversight, and investing its enormous resources to find new sources of energy. China is on the cusp of becoming the primary world power and intends on using new sources of energy to keep its lead.
The popular fear of planetary-wide environmental destruction causes the masses to turn to independent environmental organizations for solutions since their own countries seem obsessed with short-term economic and military concerns and have all but given up on the environmental issues.
Greenpiece, the leading environmental organization, has been largely independent from any national influence. Now, with rising power, and in a cunning alliance with the all-powerful Internet-based giant Coogle, they convince a panic-stricken world population to contribute to a worldwide fund to save the planet. Thanks to Coogle’s unparalleled control over information and power of influence, and Greenpiece’s shocking end-of-world promotional campaigns, the financial contributions are unprecedented. In just a few years, the Greenpiece/Coogle alliance becomes a dominating world power, although a largely virtual one... for now.
The name of the compound is K-Mix. But China is not interested in sharing its secret with the world. It has equipped its factories, its transportation system, and every home and business with K-Mix appliances, thus establishing its energy independence.
No other country has found a satisfactory energy alternative to oil, in part because of their short-sightedness, in part because of the massive brain drain of their best scientists to China’s more alluring resources. Some governments start spying on China in an attempt to gather information on the production of K-Mix. Others, relieved that China is no longer a threat in the fight for oil, expand colonizing efforts in oil-rich countries. The colonized countries, unable to fend off the occupying forces, start subsidizing the Shadow Forces, giving them access to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as global political influence.
Chinese officials vigorously deny the allegations. After a two-year battle to expose the truth, Greenpiece’s scientific resources and Coogle’s information reach finally destroy China’s credibility. However, China stays defiant and continues using K-Mix. Greenpiece calls for an economic boycott, but global businesses’ utter dependence on China prevents them from severing their business ties with the manufacturing giant. Global industries form a de-facto industrial coalition with China that bypasses national governments.
Consequently, citizens lose any and all faith in their governments, causing public opinion to sway even further toward Greenpiece and Coogle.
By the end of the decade, individuals identify less with their nation of citizenship than they do with their group of allegiance: the Industrial Coalition, the Greenpiece/Coogle Alliance, or the Shadow Forces. These three groups, virtual in nature, with members spread around the globe, have now become more important than any nation-state world power. The media call them the Three Powers of the Apocalypse.
By 2040, Greenpiece/Coogle has a higher capitalization than any nation on Earth, except for China.
Between 2040 and 2045, accelerated global climate change causes massive polar cap meltdown, resulting in a 10-meter rise in seawater levels. More than 600 million people are forced to migrate to higher lands and neighboring countries. China is the most affected, followed by India.
Shanghai, Calcutta, London, and New York are under water. The world is plunged in horror and chaos, as almost 1/8th of the world’s population is displaced.
The link between K-Mix’s pollution rate and this catastrophe is no longer in question. Greenpiece identifies China as the planet’s number one enemy. In five years, Greenpiece’s membership multiplies by a factor of five while its financial resources quadruple.
In 2044, under the pretext of monitoring polar cap melting rates, Greenpiece seizes control of the North Pole and the Antarctic continent, and establishes numerous scientific and military bases in the regions. The same year, Greenpiece announces defensive military capabilities and declares the two poles Greenpiece Territories.
Starting in 2045, Greenpiece builds giant floating cities to welcome its members and the many refugees seeking shelter. The cities are equipped with military defenses, and can navigate the sea under almost any weather conditions. They are powered by a combination of sun, wind, tidal power and algae biodiesel, providing enough energy to support basic living conditions for up to 50,000 inhabitants per city. The first floating city is set afloat in 2049.
In 2046, an independent group of renowned scientists and philosophers publish a report, dubbed the “Apocalypse Scenario,” in which they express their alarm at the combined culmination of planet-wide environmental collapse and rising geopolitical tensions: the Shadow Forces’ stockpiled weapons, Greenpiece’s power grab, China’s defiant policies, the war for oil. Sadly, they conclude that a return to peace is no longer a viable option and that an end-of-world scenario is inevitable, rendering the planet’s surface uninhabitable, and leading to the destruction of humanity.
To ensure some form of human survival, the report proposes fragmenting the human population into groups of 5000 and establishing small underground cities to provide a sheltered living environment. These cities would run autonomously and with no outside access for centuries, allowing the populations to live and evolve safely and peacefully, while maintaining the body of human knowledge and experience.
In 2048, the first underground city project begins construction in Silicon Valley, California.
Nation-states and economic powers gradually come to accept the grim future presented by the Apocalypse Scenario, and proceed to implement its prescribed survival plan. Projects vary according to the technologies and budgets available. Many underground cities are financed by one of the Three Powers of the Apocalypse. Taking advantage of the situation, opportunistic entrepreneurs go so far as proposing ready-made underground cities to the less technologically advanced countries, demanding exorbitant fees.
China polarizes the world; some nations join Greenpiece in its boycott of China, while others continue to import needed materials from China for the construction of their cities.
In 2052, Greenpiece announces that they have offensive military capabilities, and threatens war on China if it does not stop producing K-Mix. Greenpiece expands its construction of floating cities and military bases throughout the world’s oceans and seas.
2053: Ninety percent of the remaining oil reserves are controlled militarily by industrialized countries. The Shadow Forces have nothing left to lose. They multiply their terrorist attacks against every capital city of those countries. Their efforts continue until A-Day (Apocalypse Day).
2055: The first underground city is operational in Silicon Valley.
2057: Oil reserves dry up. The industrialized countries pressure China to export K-Mix, something it has been unwilling to do until now. Greenpiece is appalled by the request and threatens to bomb China’s K-Mix refineries if it sells the compound to the world. China refuses to sell K-Mix.
2060: The CIA finally gets hold of the secret K-Mix formula and, unbeknownst to China and the world, the U.S. start secretly building K-Mix production facilities.
2061: The U.S. officially announces the discovery and imminent exploitation of a new source of energy, biological in nature like K-Mix, but reported to be 100 times less polluting.
2062: Greenpiece requests samples of the US’s new energy fuel so they can test its pollution rate independently. The US government denies the request, pointing out that Greenpiece has no legal authority over it or its people.
2063: Ten underground cities are estimated operational.
2064: Diplomatic relations degrade rapidly between Greenpiece, China and the United States. Greenpiece accuses China of having sold their K-Mix formula to the U.S., and China accuses the U.S. of stealing trade secrets. Both accuse the U.S. of having lied about their so-called discovery and its reduced toxicity.
A Greenpiece report reveals that pollution rates on the American continent follow a pattern identical to that of the K-Mix when it was first exploited by China. Greenpiece accuses the U.S. of collaborating with China to push the world into self-inflicted destruction.
15 April 2065: The U.S. accuses Greenpiece of owning weapons of mass destruction, in direct contradiction with its charter to save the world. Undeterred, Greenpiece confirms its possession of biological weapons and threatens to use them if the U.S. does not cease the exploitation of its new energy source.
The Shadow Forces, taking advantage of the global confusion, launch their entire arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons on key targets within the U.S. and China, primarily K-Mix refineries and military bases. They immediately broadcast a message seemingly originating from Greenpiece, in which Greenpiece claims responsibility for the attacks.
Given Greenpiece’s recent threats and the violence of the attacks, China and the U.S. do not question the authenticity of the message and immediately retaliate in full force against the Greenpiece Territories and all known floating cities.
In less than one hour, a third of the planet’s surface receives 85% of the destructive force available on our world. Many areas will remain contaminated, radioactive, or otherwise uninhabitable for centuries...
Greenpiece never launched any weapons of mass destruction. To this day, nobody knows if they ever actually owned any.
It is estimated that only about twenty underground cities have managed to reach completion. Inhabitants are selected based on military grade, civilian skills, technical expertise, reproductive potential, and level of financial contribution.
The micro-populations remain underground for three to five centuries, waiting for a reduction in surface contamination. Some populations come out prematurely, resulting in deaths from radiation poisoning, chemical contamination, bacterial infections, or other infectious diseases. Those individuals who survive undergo mutations that spread from generation to generation.
In 500 years, the populations have evolved and the cultures of each have transformed in isolation. The most practiced skills and technologies are transmitted from parents to children; whereas others fall into obsolescence and disappear. Five centuries later, there are no more races or nationalities. There are only men and women driven by desperation and an insatiable desire to discover the world that their ancestors left behind centuries ago. They wish nothing more than to see the rebirth of Earth, to explore the lands, looking for the technologies and the knowledge they have lost. Anxiously, 500 years later, the inhabitants of the Earth emerge.
Unfortunately, it is as much in the nature of Man to conquer and destroy as it is to build, and this Earth Reborn may well suffer as chaotic and somber a fate as the one it endured at the hands of humanity 500 years earlier.