In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 9 – by Andy Silber
November 11, 2095
We’re on our way to board the Spaceplane to take us from The Ark to Earth’s surface. I just hope it can make it through Earth’s atmosphere. It did fine making it from the Martian surface to The Ark, but our atmosphere is thinner and we were moving a lot slower on the way up from Mars than we will be on the way down to Earth. This plane spent 25 mears in a hanger, but at least that protected her from the wind-blown sand for which Mars is so famous.
In my 19 mears (a Martian year) this is by far the most exciting thing to happen to me: Mars is actually quite boring. That’s why I volunteered for this mission, to break up the monotony of living on Mars.
I was born on the 5th day of Goddard in the year 7, one of the first true Martians. The new calendar had just been adopted a few mears earlier. They realized right away that a new calendar would be needed, but our government has a fairly direct democracy and anyone who wanted to be on the “Sub-Committee for time” could be. It took 3 mears to create the calendar. A day (we still use that term) is made up of 1000 millidays or millies, each of which is about 90 earth seconds. A mear is about 669 days and is made up of 18 months of 37 or 38 days, with an occasional leap day in the month of Earhart. Rather than naming our months after Roman gods or dictators, our names come from real people who helped bring man to Mars: Verne; Schiaparelli; VonBraun; Bradbury, Gagarin; Armstrong; Asimov; Rutan. The basics of the calendar were agreed to in about 2 months, but they spent mears arguing over the names of the months.
I’m a doctor and that’s part of the reason I was accepted on this mission. That, and I’m single, which is fairly rare on Mars. There’s a lot of pressure to be fruitful and multiple. My mom would say to me “Do you want humanity to die out?” as if my lack of maternal instinct would single-handily doom the human race.
After 25 mears of separation, this is our voyage of re-connection. The problem is, we’ve been so isolated from Earth, it’s not clear we can survive there: the germs; heavy atmosphere and gravity; the chaos. There are only about 40,000 of us on Mars; Earth’s population has shrunk since the MEP program closed, but 2 billion people still seems like a lot to us.
On Mars I just deal with the scrapes, broken bones, cancer, but no infections diseases. When we told the Earthlings that we wanted to come for a visit, there was a lot of concern that we would bring some space virus with us, but the other way around is so much more likely. During quarantine we’ll be getting every vaccine known to Earth, so hopefully our immune system will do better with what is found floating around today than the Amerindians managed small pox. Our blood and tissues will be scanned, poked and prodded until everyone’s convinced we can’t get them sick and we won’t keel over. Eventually we’ll be let out and get to travel the Earth. If we don’t get sick, most hope to catch the next passage of The Ark in a year. I, on the other hand, hope to stay.
We’re good guests, we do come bringing a nice gift for our hosts: 500 pounds of Neodymium, which is used to make the magnets used in fusion generators. It was mined from the remains of some of the planetesimals that have been striking Mars since before I was born. Our hope is to develop trade between the planets. We can use seeds, fusion generators, and other manufactured goods. Some of the few remaining Earth-born are asking for grape and hop seeds and yeast, plus as many bottles of wine and whiskey we can fit in the Spaceplane on our return. By the time I was born all that we had brought with us was gone and we didn’t have the right kind of yeast to make more.
Part of the reason to come now is that Earth finally seems to have recovered from The Great Reset. We’re landing on a dry lakebed in California, part of Cascadia, which now is larger than the former United States of America. It includes all of Canada, except Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces and all of the USA other than Texas, Hawaii and most of the Southeast, which is now “The Second Confederacy”. We’re told “The Second Confederacy” is a basket case. From space we see no signs of civilization.
There are similar governments like Cascadia covering most of Earth: one based in Bahía Blanca, Argentina for South America; Blantyre, Malawi in Africa; Oslo, Norway in Europe, and Chang Mai, Thailand in Asia. They claim to all have grown the same way: peacefully. From space, who can tell? When we talk on the radio to the different countries, they’re all very polite about their rivalries, but I guess that’s in part because it’s an open line. Everyone has agreed that we can travel freely once quarantine is lifted, so hopefully I’ll get to see first hand.
Our arrival seems to hark of a new age, the Anthropocene, the age of man. Humans have left a mark that will survive in the geological record: mass extinctions; changes in sea level and chemistry; fires and floods. The Earth is healing, but its destiny is forever changed. Scientifically, the Anthropocene began centuries ago, but I feel in my bones that the true age of man begins now. We were but children playing with toy dinosaurs. We’ve survived a very troubled adolescence. Hopefully our college years will be filled with learning and something the old timers call “keggers”. There’s still so much to do, and hopefully there always will be. As a race, we don’t deal well with boredom.
I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler.
I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft.
I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber