Vir's Archive

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Earth More Beautiful and Less Free (Content)

So, what does Earth look like?

I’ve spent some time defining the politics (a mess of competing powers between the Hegemonies, the UN, and the independent blocs), and to a lesser extent to socio-political landscape (a stable, near tyrannical order built on the fear of another population crash), but we don’t know what Earth really looks like in TDE.
Earth is beautiful.  It has recovered from the Malthusian Crash nicely – though at great cost to freedoms modern humans would take for granted. The skies are blue.  Cities are modern, with ever-larger sky scrapers pushing the boundaries of the Earth/Space divide.  SpaceShafts dominate the horizon, since any city of any size will have at least one dedicated SpaceShaft. Expansive parks with large growing plots are ubiquitous.  Arable land is cultivated ruthlessly – not in the sense of overuse, but in the sense that every square millimeter is cared for and expected to produce.  Desertification is on the decline.  Clouds are bountiful.  Toxic emissions and pollution are considered major crimes by every nation.  Food and energy are generally adequate for most societies (with a few notable exceptions).  Greenhouse gasses are managed closely… its a paradise of sorts. 

Jutting out from the equator and poles are four magnificent SpaceElevators, who tower majestically over their numerous SpaceShaft brethren.  Goods, supplies and energy are transported into and out of LEO cost-effectively - making the stratosphere a very busy place with massive elevators and transport craft moving about docking with, decoupling, and servicing the great Elevators and Shafts.  LEO is even busier, with thousands of satellites performing an intricate dance as they weave around each other.  Larger relay satellites orbit just above LEO, transmitting beamed energy from Mercury and Jupiter. 

Cities have grown even more important than they are now.  Each city serves a downport for space traffic as well as the more traditional role of resident and business hubs.  Many of the cities in Europe and North America have expanded into each other’s borders, creating an urban sprawl that is pockmarked by expansive greenery and parks. 

Technology is dizzying.  Biology, physics and the social sciences have created a series of societies that are rapidly moving to post-scarcity and singularity (but we aren’t there yet).  Custom vat-grown bodies are common.  Disease is much less a problem/threat than it is today.  Cybernetics and biologics are commonplace.  Entertainment is transmitted directly into the brain.  Drones and robots are everywhere.  

People work, eat and love.  Many hold jobs, but a large portion of he developed world lives exclusively off of social welfare - which has developed to support a the large middle-class.  In nations that are still recovering from the Population Crash, are still developing, or face other challenges (like being irradiated) - the social welfare system is much less robust and everyone is expected to work.

The wild places of the planet are gone - replaced with farmland, or, occasionally, carefully managed preserves that exist as a legal afterthought and historical artifact.  Atmospheric scrubbers have replaced the need for large biospheres of jungle to convert CO2 into O2.  Even the remaining deep Amazon is heavily monitored and pruned - making its wild nature nothing more than a facade.    

If you look at Earth in 2100+ closely, you see a vibrant world with a lot of positive energy – but it comes at the cost of overtly agreeing to the tyranny of petty authoritarianism (or, in some cases, outright dictators). The economy is booming and people are usually fed/happy.  The cost?  Having children is a major undertaking – the unlikely intersection of wealth and a lucky strike in the population lottery.  Socialism de rigueur, with heavy taxes to keep people at a steady middle class, indirectly reduce on freedom of movement, and support a massive state bureaucracy.  Democracy exists, but in reality the state machinery has created an inertia for itself that a simple thing like a vote really couldn't change.  The state can own people de facto, if not de jure.  Laws and regulations are ubiquitous – no

matter where you live – everything from what foods you are approved to eat, to the size of your personal vehicle, to what biomods you are allowed, to what job you can hold are regulated by mandates, laws and ordinances.  Its a good time to be a lawyer.  

Like everything else in TDE – I don’t want Earth to be easily categorized.  Its not good and its not bad.  People generally live well and comfortably, though they have abdicated some critical choices about their own destinies.  The economy is strong, but partly as a result of quietly exploiting the planetary colonies.  Conflict is rare, but when it does erupt it is vicious.