Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fleshing some future history

I'm going to expand on the first couple of points from the timeline of my first post:

  • 100 years - effective space transportation, orbital and lunar habitats, Earth in real crisis.
  • 200 years - Colonies exploiting Jovian and Saturnian moons.  Earth stabilized and beginning to re-terraform.  Lunar and cis-lunar space a single confederation but one with a lot of tension between components.  Map only barely recognizable.
  • 300 years - Stardrive invented.  Political relations stable in Sol system but stresses develop in the development of nearby usable worlds.
What is my thinking here, and what is the sol system like at the cusp of the invention of stardrives?

Well the first century is the rough one.  For a future that can only averted by an unprecedented level of international cooperation go to this site and watch the TVO video or listen to the podcast.  Sure, you don't trust scientists and everything is fine.  I'm married into science, I know climatologists who have worked on this, for that matter I know Coast Guard captains who have sailed the arctic over four decades; climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is probably going to get very bad.  In the interests of fairness, and since I am allowed to choose any premise I want for a future history, any comments debating either side of the reality of this prospect will be deleted.  Heck, maybe we will get lucky (or smart) -- most of the future histories rooted in the 1950s started with a global nuclear war.

Anyway, here's my line for the 1st century:
  • In the mid-21st century a number of very wealthy people around the world realize that the earthbound component of any crisis could be very hard on themselves and their heirs.  Under the guise of space tourism they fund (and persuade their governments, under the cover of ideological competition and patriotism) the development of the first permanent orbital habitats.  Within a few decades the technologies for ground-to-orbit travel, long-term environmental control, and permanent space habitats advances more than was ever considered possible during the first century of space flight.
  • With CO2 control a desperate priority, the gloves come off of nuclear research and development.  Small, economical and reasonably safe fission plants become commonplace, and nuclear fusion becomes a reality early in the 22nd Century.
  • The development of halphyte agriculture, including algal based fuel extraction, not only helps make up for the massive loss of farmland as the world becomes dryer and hotter, but feeds back into the development of colonization technologies when we finally find other worlds. 
There is, in the end, a stable situation short of the final disaster -- the loss of human technological civilization -- but it is a near run thing.  And it is not reached before
  • The great die-off.  The vast majority of the world's populations live in those parts of the world at greatest risk.  The evaporation of the glaciers that feed the river systems of India and Pakistan, Southeast Asia and China are an unmitigated disaster; both famine and war ensue.
  • The pressure from the climate refugees escaping the disaster completely disrupts the wealthy countries of the North.  While the fundamental grounding of the larger northern nations is preserved at some core level, the political organizations are completely re-organized.
By  2150 the population of Earth is less than a billion, clustered around the arctic ocean and bits of the South Atlantic organized into a single confederation of small and factious polities; a few hundred thousand live in Earth orbit and on the lunar colonies.  The coastlines of the icecap-free planet are unrecognizable.  But we have made it through.  Food production is actually going up, population is starting to increase, and the great debate is in the division of resources between re-terraforming the Earth, and finding elsewhere to establish human presence. 

Next post, off to the planets!


    1. 12 Posts in the last week Les. I am having trouble keeping up with you. I've only just finished reading Atomic Rockets.

    2. Yes, I am afraid I am in the "core dump" stage of things I have thought about for a while. It will slow down when I use that up.

    3. I was thinking it;s been on your mind for a while. Quite interesting. I keep thinking about Traveller, but I haven't run anything in years and years.