What began as a slow collapse in the environment, reached a point in 2055 where a “perfect storm” of events swung the environment wildly out of control. The Earth itself would abide, but for all its delusion of greatness, Humanity found itself crushed under the weight of the metaphoric elephant.
Once it had rolled over, there was no place left in the cradle for mankind.
Excerpt from: Upon Leaving the Cradle
Artemis Lea, Union Historian, 2356
- Human population peaks at 10.3 billion.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 1.6° C above pre-industrial levels.
- Over three consecutive years with record setting summer heat waves, vast sections of the tundra across North America and Siberia thaw. These melt-offs release massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere. The methane spike is severe enough that global temperatures begin to climb quickly (Methane is a greenhouse gas and is thirty times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide).
- This event begins a cascade effect that accelerates climate change beyond scientific model projections.
- Scientists estimate global average temperature will rise 1°C per decade for a minimum of thirty to forty years as a result of the methane spike although this condition could extend or accelerate as warming upsets more of the ecosystem of frozen areas.
- Drought and wildfires additionally complicate the climate outlook, and food production worldwide plummets as a deeper wave of famine spreads through Africa.
- Human population declines to 9.9 billion.
- Food production falls globally by 50%. Four hundred million people die worldwide in the decade after the thaw begins, mostly as a result of starvation. Food riots have become continuous occurrences, and many nations have declared martial law.
- The North American drought intensifies and spreads to Europe and Africa. Food production falls by another 10%.
- Fresh water supplies worldwide begin to diminish. Agricultural use of water competes with human consumption. Many industrial facilities are idled for lack of industrial water availability.
- Many poorer nations face water riots in addition to the food riots, and military conflicts erupt over water rights. People begin to flee drier areas overrunning many international borders and causing political turmoil worldwide.
- Human population falls to 8.6 billion. Famine and water shortages combine to cause 1.3 billion deaths worldwide.
- Earth’s global average temperature approaches 2.6°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Scientists estimate that because of additional methane released and the albedo change of the earth (loss of reflective ice coverage area), global average temperatures will rise by 1° in the next seven and a half years.
- The Ross Ice Shelf and several other ice shelves in Antarctica collapse simultaneously driving global sea levels up by nearly one meter in two years.
- Rise in sea level causes several wars throughout the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and across the Indian Ocean as populations move away from the coastal regions to higher ground.
- Low-lying coastal cities in the industrialized nations invest heavily in seawall construction and other infrastructure work to attempt to hold the coastal areas. The economic impact worldwide is measured in trillions of dollars.
- Earth’s global average temperature approaches 3.6°C above pre-industrial levels. This temperature change is exactly in line with new climate predictions.
- Subsurface hydrostatic release causes Greenland’s ice pack to begin a total collapse. Glaciers that had been measured in feet per year are now moving at close to a meter per day in some cases. Scientists estimate that Greenland will be ice free within ten years. This ice collapse will raise global sea levels by six to seven meters.
- Southeast Asia is overrun by refugees from across the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. Entire nation states have ceased to exist because of the rising ocean water. Many of these nations have spawned pirate economies that run rampant throughout the region. Naval forces from around the world struggle to contain this outlaw activity.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 4.4°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Pirate warlords dominate the Indian Ocean from Australia to the African Coast, and out into the South Pacific almost to Tahiti. The lawlessness of the region collapses many of the less stable governments of Southeast Asia.
- The Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea dissolve in the war.
- Human population falls to 6.5 billion. Famine, water shortage, and diseases brought on by a lack of sanitary management clauses 2.1 billion deaths worldwide over the previous decade. Global food production falls another 10% from pre-collapse levels.
- Atmospheric methane levels continue to increase as more organic matter in the tundra thaws and decomposes. As a result scientists predict nearly 1°C rise every five years.
- Antarctica begins a massive melt-off adding to the already rapidly rising sea levels.
- “Siberian Flu” outbreak starts. This disease is not actually a flu virus, but rather is the result of an ancient disease that has been released from virtual suspended animation in the tundra. Spreading initially by animals (or birds) this disease decimates cities across the northern tier of Europe and Asia. Some progress is made in protecting North America by quarantining all refugees and other arrivals from the infected areas.
- Over the course of a year, 960 million people die. Those who are living in famine affected areas have a 60% mortality rate. Those who have managed to maintain a healthier diet die at a 30% rate.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 5.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
- The United Nations declares Saharan Africa and much of the Middle East uninhabitable. Although this declaration is not a binding declaration, it causes a massive migration of people out of the region.
Most of the refugees head north towards Europe or Asia. The Russian Federation enforces its borders with troops, so few of the migrants enter Russian-controlled territory. This forces most of them toward Europe.
- Under the weight of the unprecedented refugee crisis, the European Union explodes into chaos. Nearly 250 million people drive the collective economy of the EU to collapse.
- The United Nations is incapable of helping in the refugee management, as Europe is only one theater of the worldwide crisis. The UN has already exceeded its credit limits and can stretch no further. European leaders blame the United Nations for mismanagement of resources and withdraw from the organization.
- Late in the year China and Russia enter into a border war. The Gobi Desert of central China has become decimated by relentless heat, and large portions of the population try to migrate north. This migration is met with preemptive military force by the Russian government, and the situation escalates rapidly across the entire Nei Mongol region.
- “Eskimo Flu” erupts across North America and Eastern Siberia simultaneously. Although similar to the previous “Siberian Flu” epidemic, this disease has a 60% mortality rate everywhere.
However, because of its similarity to smallpox, scientists do manage to develop a treatment and contain the outbreak, but not before 1.65 billion people die worldwide.
Scientists dub the disease “Megapox.”
- The United Nations disbands as a result of financial collapse and political stress.
- With no forum available for international arbitration the use of military force escalates around the world. The war between China and the Russian Federation spins rapidly toward nuclear confrontation. The United States, although struggling under its own economic hardships attempts to arbitrate on behalf of the two parties.
- A heat wave cripples the southwestern United States and over 100,000 people die in a two week period in early June.
- The power grid from Texas to Oregon shuts down as a result of the temperatures. The federal government orders that much of inland California, Arizona, New Mexico and southwestern Texas be evacuated. The economic cost and logistical effort nearly bankrupts the United States.
- Power remains out in California and Texas for over a month.
- The war between Russia and China escalates to the point where a nuclear exchange appears inevitable. In the last minute, military leaders of both countries stage coups and wrest the power for the weapons control from their government leaders. Neither of the two parties will admit to having worked together, but the simultaneity of the takeovers appears to be coordinated.
- Human population falls to below 2.1 billion. Death tolls from the wars, famine, and both epidemics of the decade exceeds 4.41 billion people.
- Earth’s global average temperature breaks 7°C above pre-industrial levels.
- The United States loses sovereign control of a large portion of its territory as its citizens simply leave for Canada. Border checkpoints in Canada are overwhelmed by US refugees from the south. More people drive into Canada from the US in the first month of the year, than lived in Canada at the point of its highest population.
Until Mother Nature’s tantrum had played itself to the bitter end, humanity would have no control over its own destiny. The Earth seemed determined to continue its slide towards a hellish new environment, and the frail remnants of civilization were unlikely to be able to change that reality.
Humanity, collectively is not a species who will go quietly into oblivion.
Indeed, in the face of this devastation, there were those that sought to wrest an opportunity for our own salvation from the gasping carcass of the Earth. A coalition of visionary leaders arose with a plan that, before the beginning of the world’s death spiral, would have been impossible to even contemplate.
Excerpt from: Hope Dies Hard
Artemis Lea, Union Historian, 2358
- The Accords of 2097 establish the foundation of what becomes the Charter of the Human Union and lays out the principles of the New Vision. The goal is to set up a new process of governance to allow humanity to start climbing out of the “Grave that Earth has become.”
- It becomes a widely accepted scientific fact that the Earth will be uninhabitable to human beings in less than a century, and single-minded focus on achieving the goal of space colonization is essential to the survival of civilization.
- Under the authority of The Accords, the Executive Council of the Union re-commissions all existing orbital facilities from prior to the Great Collapse, and begins rapid expansion of operations in Low Earth Orbit. Private space industries had reached a high water point in 2055, with over ten orbital facilities and a small lunar base of operations. In the forty-four years since the environmental collapse began, these facilities were slowly mothballed, but the capability to reach, restore and utilize these facilities still exists.
- Executive Council orders the construction of an equatorial space elevator
- The Union establishes Lunar Base Alpha near the site of the former private Bigelow Aerospace moon base in the Sinus Iridum basin.
- The Union establishes Galileo Station at Lagrange One
- Space Elevator-1 goes online, greatly reducing resource cost of access to LEO Colonies and Lagrange station. SE-1 is capable of carrying upwards of 5000 people per day from the surface of the Earth into space, although initially a fair portion of its lift capacity is dedicated to carrying materials for space fabrication.
- Lunar Base Alpha is rededicated as “New Hope City” and opened for immigration of refugees from Earth.
- The DevCartel (research, education and development) and DoCartel (engineering and manufacturing) complete development and testing of an advanced hydrogen fusion propulsion system capable of allowing resource effective exploration of interplanetary space.
- The global drought finally breaks with massive flooding throughout North America and Europe. Although there is now ample water to produce crops, many domesticated vegetables and grains are not adapted to the higher temperatures and are no longer grown.
- Much of the existing farmland has been abandoned for less productive soil further north. Additionally, several plant pathogens are released out of the thawed tundra, and some plant species cease to exist.
- Scientists work to engineer new edible varieties of plant, but the human diet loses much of its variety.
- Human population falls to 1.2 billion. A steady death rate from famine, and a reduced birth rate of 1.0, combines to result in a population reduction of 800 million.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 7.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
- By the end of 2110, nearly 10 million people have left the Earth and live in the LEO Colonies, at Galileo Station, or in New Hope City.
- Accelerating ice melt from Antarctica contributes to an overall 3% reduction in land surface area on earth. All former coastal cities have been abandoned and relocated inland to higher ground. Resource cost for this industrial migration slows deployment of the Space Elevator-2 installation.
- Food production on earth falls to 15% of pre-collapse levels, however lunar based hydroponic farming facilities are able to produce enough additional food to maintain acceptable dietary standards for all of humanity for the first time since 2055.
- A magnetic catapult goes into operation on the lunar surface for boosting payloads to Lagrange and LEO stations where they can be relayed to other destinations on the surface of Earth or in Near Earth space. Establishing bidirectional transportation allows for an exponential increase in productivity.
- Martian exploration begins. Permanent settlement of Mars requires a more in-depth study of both the environment and resources available.
- Operational bases are established on Phobos and Deimos from which extended landing operations to the Martian surface can be conducted. It is anticipated that a permanent Mars colony would require upwards of a decade.
- Human population of the solar system is 1.18 billion.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 8.1°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Efforts begin to deflect a near Earth asteroid into a stable Earth/Mars resonance transfer orbit. This asteroid will become part of a long term transportation system between Earth and Mars.
- Phobos Landing and Deimos Staging Base are expanded in preparation for the establishment of the Mars Alpha surface colony. Together they will facilitate what is collectively expected to be a massive migration effort. These two bases become known collectively as “The Twin Cities.”
- Mars Alpha Base is established in the Chryse Planitia as a construction and processing center for the first permanent colony.
- Vesta Base is established in the asteroid belt to serve as a material processing center for asteroid mining operations. The facilities include an applied sciences industrial research center.
- Mars Alpha Base is rededicated as “Burroughs” and is opened for migration. A large portion of the Twin Cities population immediately relocates to the Martian surface.
- Human population of the solar system falls to 1.10 billion. This reduction in population is the result of birthrates on Earth falling to 0.8. Earth’s population is 1.06 billion and off planet population is 40 million with a birth rate of 2.7.
- Earth’s global average temperature rises to 8.3°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Scientists announce that the temperature rise appears to be slowing and may be reaching a peak. Although this is purely conjecture on their part, the announcement is taken as reason for hope.
- Aldrin Base is established on the Earth/Mars resonance cycler to facilitate mass-migration of humans to Mars. This asteroid follows a stable Hohmann Transfer Orbit between the two planets and will provide a regular influx of residents for the rapidly growing Burroughs Colony.
- Ceres Base is established with the largest single space immigration in human history. Established to be an outer solar system administrative facility, this colony is one of the most extensive human construction projects since the New Vision began.
- The Union Executive Council establishes the Terraforming Directorate as a joint venture between DevCartel and DoCartel. This cooperative is tasked with terraforming Mars and reversing the climate collapse of Earth.
- Mars Beta Base established in the Libya Montes Region, Isidis Planitia
- First Helium Cycle Fusion reactor comes online at Vesta Research Institute.
- A large Floater population relocates to the asteroids and establishes permanent residence across the asteroid belt as mining operations proliferate through the region.
- Ceres Alpha Shipyards established to build space craft to support the industrial and mining transportation requirements of the outer solar system.
- Human population of the solar system is 1.06 billion. 1.05 billion people still live on Earth although the birth rate has fallen to 0.7. The off-world population is 100 million with a birth rate of 2.9.
- Earth’s global average temperature reaches 8.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This continues the slower trend in temperature increase, and scientists determine it to be a combination of the loss of methane efficacy in the atmosphere and increased carbon uptake through geo-engineering efforts.
- Mars Gamma Base established in the Athabasca Valles, Elysium Planitia.
- Mars Beta base rededicated as Bradbury, and is opened for migration.
- Mars reaches the point where it produces 50% of the solar system’s food supply.
- Mars Gamma Base is rededicated as Robinson and is opened for migration.
- Human population of the solar system falls to 1.055 billion. This reduction is the result of birthrates on earth falling to 0.6. Earth’s population is 900 million. Off planet population is 155 million with a birth rate of 2.9.
- Earth's global average temperature reaches 8.7°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Beginning of the water crisis. Although Earth has an adequate supply of water bringing it from the surface to where it’s needed in the space colonies is challenging and requires a great deal of space on the elevator system.
- Ice mining in the asteroid belt produces sufficient water for sustaining the residents of the belt, but no additional growth in capacity or supply is anticipated.
- Union Executive Council decides to mount a manned expedition to the Jovian system, and determine the availability of water there. Vast reservoirs of water are known to exist on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but no manned expeditions beyond the inner solar system have yet been conducted.
- Jovian mission arrives at Europa and discovers complex life in the subsurface ocean.
- The mission and crew are then sent to Ganymede to determine whether or not its water is usable, and it also is teeming with life.
- The mission is recalled to Ceres Base to be refitted for an expedition to the Saturn system.
- Saturn mission arrives at Enceladus. It is found to support indigenous life. Additionally several other deposits of liquid water through the Saturn System also contain evidence of life in varying degrees of complexity. None of them are considered acceptable sources of water. However, an ample water supply for short-term needs is found in the ring system.
- SourceCartel gears up for a massive ring ice harvesting operation. Transporting ice inward to the asteroid bases and the farms at Burroughs and New Hope City will be a resource intensive process. Large ice freighters are commissioned for fabrication at Ceres Alpha Shipyard. It will take years to deploy enough of them to relieve the looming water crisis and the entire operation will adversely impact the collective economy of the Union for decades.
- A sudden outbreak of a Megapox-B variant decimates Central North America (formerly Canada). This Eskimo Flu-2 epidemic spurs a mass exodus from Earth to LEO and Mars.
- Human population of the solar system climbs to 1.06 billion. In spite of the death toll from the Eskimo flu, population rebounds for the first time in one hundred and twenty-five years. Also, for the first time more people live in space than on the surface of the Earth. The population of Earth is 490 million and the birth rate has fallen to 0.5. The off-world population of the solar system explodes to 516 million with a birth rate of 3.1.
- Earth global average temperature approaches 8.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Terraforming Directorate determines that a looming Martian population explosion, and rapidly expanding agricultural activities, will exceed ice harvesting capabilities from the Saturn system. These pressures are pushing the Burroughs Colony toward a massive water shortage.
- Late in the year the Terraforming Directorate commissions a massive scale aquifer drilling and pipeline development project in the Xanthe Terra region of Mars. Stage I of this operation is identifying aquifer depth and capacity, and then establishing pumping and pipelines to the Burroughs colony. This project is expected to take 6 to 8 Earth years to complete.
- A large contingent of Floaters migrate to Mars to work on this project. Temporary housing is established in the region.
- Burroughs Incident: Mars aquifer project connects to the Burroughs water supply. Pumping begins. Two months after the establishment of the new system, an indigenous microbe infiltrates the colony’s water supply. This is the first indigenous life form found on Mars. It immediately infects and kills any human organism within twenty-four hours. Human immune systems and medical technology are ineffectual in combating this infection. Within thirty-six hours of the first detection of this microbe, the entire population of Burroughs is dead (Almost twenty million people).
- The food supply produced by Burroughs has to be destroyed. The Martian microbial infection is determined to not harm growing plants, unfortunately the microbes do remain alive within the structure of the plant, and then will infect animals that consume it ... with severe consequences.
- It is decided by the Union Council that until a cure can be found for the disease, Mars needs to be quarantined and abandoned. All colonists are ordered to evacuate to the Twin Cities for their own safety. Seventeen million residents crowd into the bases on Phobos and Deimos.
- Unfortunate timing puts the Aldrin Cycler arriving at Mars almost simultaneous to the evacuation order being given. Aldrin Base is carrying one million colonists who were scheduled to go down to Robinson Colony.
- Phobos and Deimos are unable to offload any of the intended colonists, nor do they have supplies to give them for the return trip. The Aldrin base is twenty-three months before it returns to Earth.
- Riots of Phobos Landing: Sixteen million people die of starvation and violence in the Twin Cities while waiting for relocation to other colonies in the solar system.
- Dr. Nisreen Sokat ends the riots by organizing a return to Mars. She leads almost a million survivors back down to Bradbury and Robinson colonies. Since the microbial infection may at any time enter the biome of the two remaining colonies, those who choose to return are left without support from the rest of the Union.
- The Red-Wall Quarantine Zone is established by Union Executive Council order, locking those on Mars into permanent exile and isolation.
- Riots break out throughout the solar system as the Union Government imposes food rationing until New Hope City can increase agricultural output to cover the lost production from Burroughs. Unfortunately, transportation time to Mars and the asteroid bases means the food crisis is far worse in the outlying regions. It takes several years before shortages will end in all areas of the solar system.
- Saturn Ice Race. Due to water being used for three fundamental components in humanity’s life throughout the solar system, water consumption outstrips harvesting potential. The shortages become critical. Prioritization is given to life support in both human consumption and agriculture, but massive economic impact will be felt if reaction mass for hydrogen engines fall into short supply. Development efforts are focused on mining Saturn’s rings as a safe water source.
- Economic projections indicate that without an additional influx of water, or the advent of new technologies, transportation between the colonies and bases of the solar system will become problematic within thirty years.
- Human population of the solar system remains steady at 1.06 billion. A massive migration toward the asteroid belt shifts the growth center away from Zone One for the first time.
- Earth global average temperature remains at 8.8°C above pre-industrial levels. This marks the first two decade span where temperature on Earth has not risen since the Great Collapse.
- DevCartel and SourceCartel negotiate and establish the Jakob Waltz Charter to test a new technology for retrieving intact large-scale ice masses upwards of two kilometers in diameter.
- The Jakob Waltz is commissioned and begins fabrication at Ceres Alpha Shipyard.
- The Jakob Waltz launches for a deep space prospecting survey of the Neptune L-4 Trojan Cluster.
- The Jakob Waltz arrives at the L-4 Trojan Cluster and begins harvesting ice.
- Legacy of Pandora begins
The primary principle of the New Vision is:
“Any individual not actively involved in food production or distribution, must be involved in the development and deployment of the infrastructure necessary to remove as many human beings as possible from the surface of the Earth.”