History Lesson 2: Earth-That-Was - “Remember, Remember…”
In 2047, journalists for the New York Times published leaked INS documents which revealed the failure of terraforming efforts on Mars, Venus, and the chosen moons. Though Mars had demonstrated initial success, atmospheric development figures indicated a near flatline result. The planet might become habitable, but according to these findings, not for another one hundred thirty-seven years. As government officials scurried to regroup and deflect blame, all terraforming efforts within the Sol system were summarily defunded and shut down.
As the scandals of governmental and corporate concealment are exposed, riots break out on a global scale. Destabilized governments collapse, plunging much of the so-called ‘third world’ into anarchy and sapping Earth-That-Was of ever more precious resources. In response to the mounting human catastrophe, China and the United States forge an alliance, restructuring the United Nations organization into a planetary governing body, the Global Exodus Alliance This new body is swiftly ratified and supported by the majority of nation states. Holdouts are goaded into supplication by a simple ultimatum: cede control to the GEA…or see your citizens left behind come Exodus Day.
The newfound Alliance moves swifty, taking complete control of global resources and crushing rebellion where it may arise. Rationing programs keep the population on subsistence level, as talent and material is poured into preparation of an organized evacuation. By 2062, eyes have once more turned toward the star cluster 34Tauri(2020) and its’ numerous planets.
2070: A new terraforming approach has been tested and proven successful. Dozens of AI controlled terraformer ships are under construction, as competing designs for generation ships are debated and revised. These ‘arks’ will each have to carry and sustain an average of 10,000 people for a journey of approximately 125 years. With raw materials in rapid planetary decline, it is decided that existing infrastructure and urban construction will be dismantled to augment Earth’s mining, and mineral collection from Saturn’s rings. A demolition schedule is created, sparking a fresh swath of rioting that is brutally squelched by Alliance peacekeepers. Steel mills, mining and fossil fuel industries increase production to meet the anticipated demand. Environmental safeguards are frequently ignored.
The year is 2075. With her oceans now dead, wells running dry and mines yielding only dust, the first of Earth’s cities succumb to the wrecking ball. Arks are under construction, a process now considered the “only” priority by the GEA. Hope is on the rise as imagery sent from the “robot” fleet of AI terraformers reveals a larger number of usable planets in 34Tauri(2020) than originally anticipated. Good news for a future hardly conceivable as the skies blacken overhead with the pollution of desperate human industry. Climatologists revise their estimates. Earth will now be considered inhospitable to human life by 2105.
As New Year’s Day dawns in the year 2090, it does so without Paris, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, and New York. While many icons of cultural or historical significance are slated for preservation, notable structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty have been demolished, their metals going into ark construction. While many have not survived to see the new year, disturbing reports of the ark fleet’s inability to house all of Earth’s population are stirring unrest. It is announced that this year, the arks will begin loading fuel and cargo.
By mid decade, the implementation of a boarding lottery system erases all doubt. The Alliance declares martial law, a mere formality, given the increasingly draconian tactics of their peacekeeping and law enforcement arms. Sensing a profit to be made from the ensuing panic, the owners of commercial spacecraft refit their fleets to join the arks. In 2098, C/V Gossamer begins refit to accommodate 1100 passengers. Though the asking price is beyond exorbitant, her berths are sold out within 2 hours of announcement. Equally precious are her 5 open cargo containers, the other 35 being filled with fuel and supplies for their voyage.
On November 9th, 2101, C/V Gossamer departs. For her passengers and crew, the final view of their home is a planet wreathed in black clouds, and dotted by a series of detonations, a literal ‘scorched Earth’ policy of destroying power plants, refineries, and fuel depots. The Alliance will explain this move as ‘the kindest cut’ for those poor unfortunates left behind. In 9 years’ time, all transmission, including flight telemetry, will cease. November 5th, 2110, is officially recognized as the Day The Earth Stood Still.
Dates and major events quoted from The Firefly and Serenity Database -