The Earth In 2081

The Earth that is presented here is presented from a Western viewpoint. That's not to say that every one in the world woke up one morning and decided that they were all from Iowa or something, but rather that I'm a Westerner and I'm writing the damned thing. Besides, most of the people who will be reading this are Westerners also, so, if you don't think that that's politically correct, go somewhere else.

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The Orbitals | The Nations | The Colonies | Tranquility Base
Economy
| Equipment


The Basics

>From the sprawling cities of the American coasts, to the smallest villages in the heart of Africa, the overall quality of life has increased. No longer is it necessary for a couple to have 15 children in order to have one or two survive to adulthood.  Most childhood diseases have been nearly wiped out across the globe. Doctors in remote villages have instant access to medical databases, and can consult with colleagues anywhere in the world, if necessary. They can have medicines delivered to their location within 48 hours or less. The average life expectancy is 85-90 years.

Most people have access to educational opportunities. It is possible to get a college education via the Internet and never physically enter a class room. With most of the major nations in the world showing their presence in space, the chance of conflict on Earth is very small. 


At least that's the story you get from the media.

The fact of the matter is that in most nations, children are implanted with a contraceptive device by the time they reach puberty, and if a couple wants to have children, they have to apply to the government in order to have the contraceptive nullified. In the larger urban areas, this is looked upon as a necessary evil, but in the more rural and productive areas, it is looked upon as another infringement on human rights.

Most children are immunized against all of the common childhood diseases, unless they happen to be in the third world, the slums, ghettos or they aren't in the computers. Of course, medicine is easy to get, if you have money or power.

Conflict can occur anywhere. Guerrilla actions are going on throughout South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Spain, Asia, and even in the former United States. Most of the warfare is between regular troops and guerrilla factions, but some of the more extreme factions on either side have resorted to attacking civilians, either to get a message across or to blame it on the other side. Terrorism comes in many guises - immediate action teams, special diplomatic services or even the old "People's Front For the cause of the week. Very little of it is done by fanatics and idealists any more. It is far more likely that the power behind the group will be a government or a corporation, and the group it's self will be for hire.

On any given day more than 1.2 million phone calls are tapped by various governments. It is estimated that illegal eavesdropping by corporations and other private bodies may be as high as ten times that much. Other types of surveillance are in evidence, too. In most large cities, there are cameras on the streets, and automated drones hovering overhead, just waiting to catch you on State Camera.

In most countries, a person's genetic code is on file somewhere, whether on the national, state, or local level. There are even a few countries that do an automated psychological screening of their citizens before they are allowed to get an ID card. If the screening shows that you may have the potential to commit a violent crime, you can be detained by the authorities as a threat to public safety, and re-educated.


The Orbitals

Orbital stations abound in both planetary orbit and at LaGrange points throughout the solar system. They run the gamut from research stations to zero-gee factories to international gateways to military stations. Ownership runs the gamut from international to private. The asteroid belt and inner planets teem with corporate and independent miners and processing plants. There are, of course, ships who's only business is to shuttle between the belt and Earth, bringing supplies and passengers to and from the belt.

Last year, in 2080, the Gateway station was destroyed in a shuttle accident, killing 42 people.  A prototype shuttle owned by the U.S. lost control due to a computer malfunction and impacted the hub and crushed part of the habitation ring.  The shuttle pilot was rescued before the shuttle entered the atmosphere.  The co-pilot did not survive the initial impact.  Nearby ships responded to the emergency, keeping the loss of life to a minimum.

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The Nations

The international scene is quite different than it is today. The most glaring example is the shape of the North American Continent. The following is a list of the countries that make up what used to be the U.S. and Canada.

California Confederacy: The California Confederacy consists of the former states of Arizona, Nevada, California south of Sacramento, and Baja.  Technically, they are a democracy, but there is a strong tendency towards centralization.

Independent States of America: Encompassing the Pacific Northwest, along with the western Canadian states and Alaska, the ISA is a huge, resource rich area with relatively few people in it. Roughly 3/4 of the households in the ISA have at least one privately owned weapon, in addition to any military weapons issued to the military reserve. Of course, it is quite common that both terrorists and criminals end up staring down the muzzle of a concerned citizen's gun. Needless to say, violent crime isn't much of a problem in the ISA. The armed forces are modeled after the Swiss armed forces, with every able-bodied citizen serving at least 4 years of military service after their 18th birthday and remaining on reserve until age 70. Also like the Swiss, reservists are required to keep their basic load and their issued weapon in their home. At first, the political scene was very libertarian in nature, and an Athenian style democracy was started. Now, nearly 70 years later, it has eroded into a representative democracy that has broad emergeny powers due to the current tensions with the California Confederacy and the United States.
Republic of Texas: During the breakup of the USA in 2012-2014, Texas used the exit clause in the 1836 treaty with the US to become an independent nation.  The California/Texas border (that's the California Confederacy, not the state.) is heavily guarded and controlled.  It is almost impossible to cross this border without some Texan going through all of your luggage.
Southern Alliance: The southeastern section of the former US is a nation on the verge of collapse. There are so many factions at war with each other, that it is doubtful that anyone knows who is in charge. There are rumors that the US is backing one of the more powerful factions with the expectation that they will soon ask for help from the US.  Texas is also blatantly courting factions in the western end.
United States of America: Fragmented during the Breakdown of 2012-2014, America still remains a powerful nation, as well as a major economic force. The America of 2081 has become an oligarchy that still pays lip service to the democratic ideals that it was founded on. There isn't a point in time where someone could look back and see where what was left of the country ceased to be a democracy. The media tells the populace what the government wants them to hear, and it's coverage  shows the government in the best light possible. It is quite common to see police in full riot gear in the streets of major cities along with specialized riot control vehicles. Demonstrations and riots are common and are brutally put down with beatings, water cannon and even gunfire. All cities have some sort of automated surveillence equipment installed. It doesn't matter which party you vote for, since they are different sides of the same coin. The capital is Philadelphia, PA since the destruction of Washington during the Subsistance Riots of 2012.
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The Colonies

By 2081, humans have finally done more than just look around. Many nations have set up mining and manufacturing stations in orbits around the various planets. Below are a few of the more famous ones.

Luna Prime: The first colony, Prime is located near the Sea of Tranquility. It is made up of 20 surface domes and several miles of tunnels under the surface. It's major industry is the baking of oxygen and hydrogen out of the lunar rock in order to make water, air and fuel for spacecraft. Once the fuel is extracted, the rock is sent on to extract aluminum, silicon and titanium for the various construction industries.

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HOUSTON, TRANQUILITY BASE HERE. THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. 
Tranquility Base International Peace Park: Here you can view the original landing module from Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong's footprints and the famous plaque. There is also an indoor mockup of the landing, complete with a VR experience.
Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon. July 1969 AD. We Came In Peace, For All Mankind.
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Titan : The Titan colony serves as a rest stop on the way to the outer system. Many types of hydrocarbon compounds are extracted from the surface and the atmosphere of Titan.

Ceres Station: A gathering place for belters who want to trade, meet and party. There are a few decent restaurants and bars here, as well as a few shops. Mars: There is an actual attempt to terraform the Red Planet in progress. Eventually, Mars is supposed to have a breathable atmosphere as well as a fair amount of water. The climate should be dry, but Earth-like. There are several large ice chunks being pushed from the Oort cloud on a collision course with Mars. When impact is imminent, the colony will be evacuated and instruments will be set up to monitor what could possibly be Mankind's most ambitious undertaking.

Economics

Economies vary from nation to nation, but some things remain the same.

Smart Cards: Imagine a credit card: a plastic rectangle with embossed numbers on it and your name at the bottom. Now add a hologram of the owner, as well as thumb and retina prints, add enough computing power to equal a palmtop computer and give it access to all of your bank accounts. The smart card is the preferred way of doing business in the world. With it, you can make deposits, move your accounts arround, get a loan, keep memos, access the news and computer networks, and of course, spend, spend, spend! It also gives the ability to track your purchases to anybody who wants to, and knows how to go about it. Of course, there are thousands of people who want to: Banks, police departments, credit companies, manufacturers, governments, advertising agencies, charities and even friends. Just imagine: The whole world is at your door, with its hand out.

Bearer Debit Cards: These are a disposable version of the smart card. It is accepted at most of the same places where smart cards are, but when the card is out of money, you throw it away. Of course, for the security minded, it holds the advantage of anonymity. It's virtually untraceable. There is a price, however. If the card is lost or stolen, it can be used by anybody. No passwords, holograms or thumbprints. Just pick it up and play.

Cash: The ultimate in anonymous payment options. Cash is accepted at about 60 percent of the stores in existence on Earth. There are quite a few that don't accept cash and that number is growing. It is something of a rarity to see someone pay for any purchase in cash. It would be a similar to someone paying with $100 bills now. Not terribly out of the ordinary, but it's the kind of thing you tend to remember. In most countries, purchases in cash of over $50 or the equivalent are supposed to be reported by the store.

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To learn more about this science fiction world background, e-mail me P0010081@fvcc.cc.mt.us

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