2321 The Era of Earth Isolation

Fellow Citizens of Earth,

Forty years ago, we stopped paying for space development to focus on healing our planet. But our planet remains in crisis. Environmental destruction, resource depletion, and inequality persist.

Therefore, we must take the next step. From this day forward, Earth will no longer tolerate distractions and drains on our resources. Space ambitions have proven to be a mirage, diverting us from our critical mission here on Earth. Outer space will not save our planet. Gaia herself provides all that humanity needs.

We will impose stringent regulations on all industrial activities to ensure they align with Gaia. We will push technologies to new heights to find solutions that save Gaia. We will demonstrate our resolve to protect Mother Earth.

To safeguard our planet, we are reinforcing Union Space Command. Our defenses are fortified to ensure that the reckless and wasteful Spacer economy will be able to endanger our mission.

Citizens of Earth, this is a time for unwavering determination and commitment. Together, we will save our planet and create a sustainable future for generations to come. Gaia is our home, and we will defend her with all our might.

Lea Perres, Speaker of the Gaia Restoration Committee, Planetary Assembly V-Hall, 2321.

Earth adopts a policy of extreme Neo-Socialism. This decision continues the path begun with the Great Separation of 2284, when Earth decided to stop subsidizing interplanetary development. Now, the Earth Union takes unprecedented steps to completely isolate itself from space activities and impose stringent regulations on terrestrial activities to ensure the planet's recovery.

While earlier centuries hoped for asteroid resources and orbital industry as the savior of Earth's resource and pollution problems, the new dogma is the reverse: space is now regarded as a drag on Earth's resources, while Gaia is believed to provide all humanity ever needs.

This is a selection of subject areas driven by the new policy:

  • Down to Earth: Most activities beyond Earth's atmosphere are stopped. Orbital factories and many space-based infrastructures are abandoned, with only low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations for Earth observation remaining. The Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1, home to the old sun shades, is declared Earth's territory, ensuring that the sun shades can be utilized for weather modification to mitigate extreme climate events.
  • Vac-transport: Intercontinental travel by plane is strictly regulated and minimized, reserved only for emergencies. Instead, advanced tunneling techniques are utilized to construct a global network of high-speed underground transportation. Bore heads with clusters of massive parallel ultra-rapid thermal cycler micro-probes break down rock in a continuous forced erosion process approximating walking speed. Within two decades, vacuum tube maglevs connect every major point on Earth, providing a sustainable and efficient alternative to air travel.
  • Symbioponics: Food production undergoes a radical transformation as wasteful soil farming is finally phased out in favor of symbioponics, a system where optimized crops and engineered microorganisms coexist symbiotically. These gengineered symbiotic microbes replace the traditional bioponics substrate that itself succeeded hydroponics. Functioning as biological nanites, the symbiotics store and provide water, optimize nutrient supply, and protect against pathogens. Sophisticated biofilm engineering enhances these symbiotic relationships. Additionally, crop-bots monitor and adjust environmental conditions to meet each plant's individual needs, ensuring maximum efficiency and sustainability.
  • Full cycle: Efforts to reduce resource extraction are intensifying, with a near-total recycling mandate and a mandatory refurbishing system that tracks every piece of hardware. Traditional extraction from the seabed and seawater ceases. Instead, old waste dumps are meticulously dissected by billions of tiny bots, scraping off every speck of aluminum foil from pieces of coated plastics for recycling, while also performing millions of other tedious tasks to separate and reclaim various material combinations. This method of resource production is much more expensive than mining new deposits, but it is also much more sustainable.
  • Second silicon age: Coal mining and recent developments like deep cavitation fracking are banned, marking a decisive move away from fossil hydrocarbons as raw materials. While energy needs have been satisfied for centuries by cheap pB11-fusion reactors, hydrocarbons were still used for composites. The production of plastics and other material combinations is now strictly regulated, with an allowlist ensuring only environmentally safe output and by-products. Various silicon alloys with a wide range of material properties replace plastics while silicate-based aerogels are used instead of carbon-polymers.
  • Weather: Climate extremes are managed with weather modification technologies, including remote-controlled smart dust composed of meta materials, vaporization induced from orbital mirrors, and nanoparticle cloud seeding via ground-based EM-catapult. The L1 sun shades are employed for localized climate control, preventing extreme weather events. Individual sacrifices are accepted if severe weather events can be prevented by large-scale climate manipulation, as these measures are considered inevitable for maintaining habitable conditions on an ecologically fragile planet.
  • Gen-resurrection: Biodiversity has dramatically declined, reducing the resilience of biotopes. Supported by biobanks storing genetic material and holobiome resurrection, advanced epigenetic engineering and synthetic biology are employed to reintroduce lost species and enhance genetic diversity in an effort to restore Earth's ecosystems. Extinct populations are kickstarted by bio-fabbing, essentially the 3D printing of entire organisms of microbes, and large-scale synthetic gestation in artificial wombs of larger life forms.
  • Pandemics: Healthcare and disease prevention saw significant advancements long ago with ubiquitous health monitoring, which detects outbreaks early. A new robust policy allows for countering pandemics with an automated drug development pipeline that omits the clinical test phase, trying vaccines and treatments in the target group individually monitored by implants and the pervasive, life-extending microprobes of the general population. Also, interactions with wildlife and the few remaining pharm animals are strictly regulated to reduce cross-species transmission.

Such an extreme approach may be necessary after 300 years of failed climate preservation efforts. However, this strategy comes at a significant cost: not only a reduced standard of living – though this might be counterbalanced by improved conditions once the plan succeeds – but also a shift in public perception about outer space. The new policy is supported by decades of memetic campaigns that, as a side effect, foster open hostility towards the "wasteful" expansionist interplanetary civilization. Consequently, politicians and the public perceive the "Spacer" lifestyle as a threat to Earth, its restoration project, and Gaia herself. These feelings are reinforced by comments from space-borne Earth nostalgics, who openly voice their disappointment about recent developments, particularly criticizing Earth's strict self-isolation and, what they call, "inhuman" measures of the restoration effort. Some voices even call for the liberation of Earth from Neo-Socialist rule.

Fearing sovereignty violations and aiming to protect Earth's space, the Union reinforces Space Patrol, now known as Union Space Command. At L1 this force has several space domination vehicles with fusion pulse drives and dispersed automated point defense batteries, designed to safeguard the crucial but delicate sun shades from the perceived Spacer threat.

Moderate opinions in the interplanetary public argue that the such hostility towards outer space and the so-called "Spacer" lifestyle are no coincidence or side effect of the sustainability-oriented indoctrination on Earth. Rather, they observe, the Union intentionally creates an outside enemy to rally their people behind the GAIA restoration, even if the project involves harsh measures and sacrifice. Thus, the interplanetary civilization should keep their cool and treat these hostilities, including the military buildup of Union Space Command, as what they probably are: Earth's domestic policy. However, these measured voices are in the minority.