From Our Past, Our Selves, Level 8, History and Society Lesson Plans and Readings, The Outtland Schools Curriculum:
The history of our time on earth is divided for study into three parts – Proto-Humans and Early Societies; The Age of Want; and The Century of War. The first period was divided into segments on the basis of the materials used for tools by the historians who wrote during the Age of Want (Stone, Bronze, Iron), although this choice itself suggests the military-technological bias of those historians. The Age of Want, which certainly began before the invention of writing and lasted to within a hundred years of the end of human occupation of the earth, was divided by its own historians into many periods and eras, most often on the basis of the rules of various kinds of despots – kings, queens, dictators, presidents and so on – who were themselves one of the causes of the deprivation and starvation that typified the entre sweep of thousands of years.
The Century of War was a continuation of the almost constant warfare that had marked the Age of Want and was also a cause of that want. However, a highly developed technology and an even more aggressive militarism at the end of the twentieth century (as measured by one of the dominant religions,( Christianity) began the Century of War that was to end the human presence on planet earth. Mass starvation, common throughout the age, intensified; mass migration, also common, did the same. “Nations” (societies under common rule within the same geographical limits) competed for resources, especially of energy, and climate-altering pollution made the warmer and drier parts of the planet uninhabitable as the available carbon-based energy was consumed in the production of what were then called “consumer goods” – luxury distractions from these cataclysmic events.
Certain scientists abandoned the pursuit of yet more deadly weaponry (which had long been a main goal of science) and set about to find a new source of energy. Linked by almost instantaneous electronic communcations, they agreed that the continued pursuit of carbon-based energy was insane. They accepted the invitation of the people and government of Iceland, an island “nation” in the northern ocean that depended, because of its volcanic geology, on geothermal energy rather than carbon. A complex of tunnels was built, designed to house and protect the scientists from the nuclear and biological wars then raging. Over a period of sixty years, more scientists made their way to the Icelandic base, which had continued to expand. At the end of its existence, the base housed forty-three thousand people, including scientists, engineers and their families from all over the planet as well as Icelanders who had taken refuge there and who worked as technicians and staff. The men and women who came to the complex in the final years endured terrible hardships in getting there. Many died. They came increasingly by sea as air travel ended; some came in flimsy wooden boats that often failed to survive the tremendous storms of the period.
Nuclear warfare had led to “nuclear winter,” a lowering of earth’s temperature because of dust and ash clouds that hid the sun. This change was at first welcomed, as carbon-based energy consumption had increased the planet’s temperature so far that the polar icecaps melted and coastal cities were drowned by rapidly rising oceans. Coming as it did on the heels of high temperatures, the “nuclear winter” destroyed most remaining food production and, directly or indirectly, wiped out more than half the world population.
Nevertheless, the remainder went on waging war.
Forty-three years into the Icelandic project, a hypothetical model of energy production from non-carbon fusion was made practical, and a large engineering effort to produce energy of scale was begun. Purely coincidentally, within three years of this even, the first crude anti-gravity device was created in the laboratory. It was capable of lifting a tenth of a kilo against gravity at a rate of seven centimeters per minute.
By that time, much of the planet was in ruins and the ruins themselves were radioactive. Dangerous biologicals also persisted well after they had been used as weapons. National boundaries had disappeared as military encroachments and retreats had been made. The world, which had been characterized by “nations,” had become a patchwork of tribes – still at war with each other.
Earth was no longer habitable in anything like the manner of previous periods. Food production, except at a basic level, was almost impossible, the Icelandic complex surviving only because of its geographic isolation and its geothermal energy, which enabled food production under artificial light, although for only a limited population. Scientists within the project estimated that the population of specialists, engineers, and scientists would decline increasingly fast over the next twenty years because of disease, radiation, and inadequate food; all would be dead within thirty-seven years.
From this prediction came the discussions and the plans that would lead to The Leaving. These discussion also gave birth to the initial draft of the First Protocol, which would become the founding document of the post-Leaving society. In essence, both the Leaving and the First Protocol had the same goal: to leave earth and everything associated with it behind.