2460 Ecological Turnaround Point on Earth

After 500 years of abuse and self-reinforcing climate degradation, the biosphere begins to recover.

The Batafurai index (Japanese: butterfly) calculates the quality of the biosphere in relation to the ideal state, taking into account long-term trends. The index now rises for the first time in half a millennium. This means that the earth is slowly recovering.

Since the beginning of industrialization the Batafurai index has been falling. The condition of nature, the environment and climate patterns have been deteriorating. Several centuries of pollution and overexploitation have led to a self-reinforcing stress on the biosphere, a so-called runaway effect. This development had accelerated in the 23rd century when Antarctica, the northern permafrost, and the deep oceans reacted only after long delays. Many parts of the biosphere entered into equilibria unfavorable to humans.

Under the Earth Union's neo-socialist government, the Kubadwanso program (Bantu/Chewa: born again) begins in 2350 with the goal of rehabilitating Earth. Many problems of the biosphere are addressed in a worldwide concerted effort over several decades. Solar radiation is reduced to lower global temperatures and greenhouse gases are sequestered from the atmosphere. There is a plethora of measures to restore the environment and pristine nature. Large rainforests are being regrown. Biotopes are reconstructed through genetic engineering and natural food chains are reestablished. These largescale environmental projects are supported by a new type of "full-effect" accounting ensuring more sustainable economic activity.

All these measures clearly have an effect: the deterioration of the environment is slowing down. The downward trend comes to a halt. Finally, the turnaround is achieved. A hundred years later, the Batafurai index has grown by 20%. There are clear signs that the equilibria shift again in favor of a healthy biosphere. It is expected that another 200 years later the Batafurai index might reach the level of the year 2050. Further increase to pre-industrial levels does not seem possible, as parts of the environment, life forms, and resources are lost forever.

Earth is well on its way when external developments change priorities. After the Unification War practically ends the Earth Union and the new government in Calcutta takes over, the earth rejoins the Solar Coalition becoming expansionist. The people of Earth can now see their future among the stars again. However, they are no more willing to limit themselves to renewable resources nor are they eager to continue the expensive rehabilitating efforts of the previous neo-socialist government. Unfortunately, this means that the Kubadwanso program, suspended during the Unification War, is not resumed.

2469 500th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing in the Sea of Tranquility

The first human activities in the decades "after Tranquility" were characterized by few low-flying manned space stations and occasional orbital flights, propelled by large and expensive chemical rockets. Since then, much has changed.

Today, 40 million people live permanently in interplanetary space, on the inner planets and the outer moons. Small "tin cans" have given way to spacious habitats. Megatons of material is sent into orbit by laser launchers and linear accelerators. And the orbital transfer is even more extensive, because Earth and Mars orbit are much closer to each other energetically – and therefore economically – than the planetary surfaces.

The interplanetary economy is thriving. While there are tensions between the system powers there has been no major military conflict in space recently. Earth's self-imposed isolation has been in place for more than 100 years. Initially, the embargo by Earth was dramatic for space stations and habitats, but the interplanetary civilization has come to terms with the situation. The initial shock has long been overcome with the Solar system being now independent of Earth. The interplanetary economy is currently in a long-lasting growth phase.

In the previous decade, humanity has made two great leaps forward. Just 11 years prior a spaceship matched the speed of light for the first time in the famous Lighthugger-Flight. And the development of FTL propulsion systems continues to make great progress. The first colony ship with FTL drive has just left the Solar system. Only 42 years later, a period shorter than between the sixth and seventh moon landing, the first interstellar merchant ship will set off for the stars.

Not only space travel has changed fundamentally during the 500 years since Tranquility. Humanity itself has also changed. Most people have genetic optimizations: association boosters, IQ upgrades and artificial savant aspects. Nano-implants provide advanced sensor technology, connectivity and data storage, 4-color vision, and multiple parallel thought processes. The biological bodies stay in good health for 150 years and after that there are perfect biomechanical replacements available. In the age of mind-backups final death is rather unusual, because people can continue to live as mech or in a simulation. With countless gene-mods and nanotech, humans have even adapted to life in space, including ZeroG gene hacks against calcium depletion, nanobot-assisted repair of radiation damage, and feet with opposing toes for a life in zero gravity. Yet not all gene-lines are compatible. The human gene pool is diverging.

Earth and the Solar system had great political turmoil in the past. There were wars, crises, and disasters. There were united world governments and political fragmentation. The civilization collapsed and was rebuilt. Yet, there have been enormous scientific advances, the effects of which have also changed daily life. The face of the earth looks different now due to climate change and the rising sea levels. But humanity supported by technology has managed to cope with these challenges. Big problems of the 21st century have been solved. The oceans are now being used as living spaces. Energy is cheap and the earth has just reached a turnaround point from which its ecology is recovering.

The interplanetary civilization has written its own history with religions and ideologies, military conquests and economic conflicts. Great political powers emerged and disappeared: after the isolation of Earth, the Moon/L4/L5 region dominated the system, then the United Mars colonies, later the Ganymede Directorate, and now we are experiencing the rise of the outer system.

The next 500 years will bring as many changes with humanity reaching out into the interstellar neighborhood meeting new opportunities as well as existential risks. The Solar system will be undergoing severe crises, interstellar wars, occupation and liberation, victory and defeat. It will be both, an aggressor, and a victim of conquest. The Solar system will unite and fragment again. Humans will settle other star systems, some of them so far away that they will have an independent future. They will have to find their own ways among other species.

The human sphere will become multipolar other human population centers rising and surpassing the Solar system. And then the new interstellar humanity will be drawn into the dramatic developments of the local sector and will learn that stability is not a given.