In our headlong march to greater prosperity, productivity and growth are we really just sealing our fate?
‘New Beginning’ eased its massive bulk into the new millennium with no fuss at all. All the onboard systems had been preset, the ship’s computer completely absorbed in the collation of the information to inform the control module on the bridge – the decision: to continue their flight or engage the Genesis Protocol. The fact that it was, in Earth dates, January 1st 3000, had little impact on the circuits that occupied the brain of the ship. It had been in this position on a number of occasions and each time the data capture was completed there had been no need to alter the course programmed all those years ago. If a computer could get morose then the sentinel unit on the bridge of New Beginning had every reason to be so as it neared the 950th year from launch day, a birthday of sorts for spaceships.
The concept for the mission had been fuelled by the energy and drive produced by the new space race, the optimism created by the Chinese moon landing of 2021 and the privately funded Mars Missions of 2025, 28 and 32 that usurped NASA’s program in scope and delivery. These generated momentum and caused a massive shift in humankind’s outlook, a reversal of all moves to limit climate change as the New Beginning’s mission was hatched. The leap in technologies caused by the second moon landings created an insatiable thirst for new sources of metal ores and the development of refining methods meant no land was safe from private companies hungry to cash in. As the new technologies were devised they were released into commercial ventures and society was ravenous for instant uptake.
Where the Earth was under pressure during the late twentieth century, the fears of the early twenty-first century were ignored and mankind marched headlong and headstrong to his zenith. That it should be its nadir was disregarded as these were the missions that would discover liveable planets we would colonise, where we would start afresh and learn from our mistakes.
Yes, mankind began staring into the abyss as the climate began to turn super hostile, the sea over rode massive swathes of the most fertile plains and our endless digging search for minerals and the fuel to power our progress laid waste to vast areas of once green and verdant lands.
New Beginning allowed the information to flash through its back up drive in order for the decision to reengage thrusters was double checked. Just as in the previous six planets the worrying anomaly was becoming a worrying norm, if the A.I. could worry. All the planets had been chosen because they displayed all the signs for life and indeed they had all been liveable at one time. Upon close scrutiny from New Beginnings approaching trajectory it was ascertained they had all sustained very advanced civilisations displaying vast empty cities and a vast array of space junk that idly spun in orbit. All the planets exhibited a wildly turbulent atmosphere and large parts of the continental landmasses were stricken by drought and lay ravaged by the poisons released from the extinct technologies and industries, not too dissimilar to the ones spear-headed a decade before the Genesis mission started. On all the planets there was a vestige of life, the traces though showed horrible mutations, a clinging onto life in hostile conditions.
So, Earth-like planets, lost civilisations, worlds devoid of hope, devoid of viable life. How many generations or thousands of years had passed since their collapse. New Beginnings wasn’t made to question as it set the boosters to begin its next 950 year circuit. The computer ‘hoped’ that one of these worlds would have re-generated enough for its mission to succeed and seed another world with the life it kept on board in cyrostasis with what, it had gathered from the data of what was once it’s home planet Earth, were the last humans in existence.