ISQ 2051-2151 : THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION.
A century of protecting the wildscapes that sustain us.
“Hit the gas” is a phrase we like to use to mean accelerate – to make something go faster.
But almost no one in C22 knows where that term came from anymore, and that's the reason that we're thriving together on earth today.
It was almost exactly a century ago, in 2051, that the Ice Station Quellette team set up their historic polar outpost.
From studying the surviving artifacts, ISQ’s planet had been strikingly similar to our own – a world of violent conflict, mindless consumerism and collective disregard of consequence.
The 19th Century industrialists saw the remote Arctic as a place devoid of value, apart from whatever they could capture, kill, skin, and sell.
A century later, the Monopolist Consortiums’ massive armadas dredged the ocean with nets that stretched for miles, until 90% of fisheries were in danger of collapse.
But no one believed it; the sea was too vast, too deep, too far away. Wasn't it? It was not.
They started blasted delicate seabeds, searching for their "precious" minerals and noxious flammables, destroying acres of life in seconds.
Land had to be purchased or leased, but to some, everything in the deep ocean was free for the taking.
The Monopolists had been in the business of accelerating planetary destruction for centuries – privatizing profits, socializing costs – and business was good.
From slaughtering whales to keep the lights burning in Europe to wiring homes to blow with "natural" methane gas, 84 times more damaging than carbon – they used their cash to bribe governments for subsidies and free passes to pollute, filling aquifers and streams and rivers with their chemical wastes, then moving on. The toxic soup bled downriver into the oceans and killed millions of undiscovered sea creatures.
What we know as consumer protections, they called "regulations."
The Monopolists crushed innovative technologies that plucked the free, clean and infinite energies like sunlight and wind from the sky.
They somehow manipulated ordinary people to support their dirty industries.
A writer of the time, George Monbiot, had issued a warning: “Our consumption is trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce.”
Or as another writer, Rachel Carson, had asked, and answered, more than a half a century before that:
"Who has made the decision that sets in motion these chains of poisonings, this ever-widening wave of death that spreads out like ripples when a pebble is dropped into a still pond? ... The decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power; he has made it during a moment of inattention by millions to whom beauty and the ordered world of nature still have a meaning that is deep and imperative."
The disposable culture called for regular deliveries of fresh new inanities, soon trashed in favor of fresher, newer, and more topical inanities.
By the time the ISQ team arrived in our world, the unprecedented scale of industrial fire-machines and misery farms had actually raised the temperature of the entire planet, including the oceans, and the polar regions the most. Even as the ice started to melt faster and faster, the leaders mocked scientists' warnings – they had come to enjoy those paychecks from the Monopolists.
Anyone sounding the alarm was shouted down, bullied and in some cases, murdered by those who were making cash from the sales of those toxins and flammables.
The words that could have warned the public of the threat were made meaningless.
So that the message would fall on deaf ears – billions of them.
Blankets of trapped gas began to quietly asphyxiate the planet. A few degrees later, it became impossible to predict the increasingly capricious weather. No one was shocked as fire tornados and ice hurricanes wiped cities off the map, already littered with the crash remnants of planes ripped out of the sky by rogue tsunami winds.
The last of the drinking water tasted like mayonnaise, from those cheap, knock-off desalination machines.
The oxygen grew thin, syphoned off by the state-sized fire cyclones. As the autumn-less and spring-less decades marched on, featuring brown Christmases and white Memorial Day weekends, the oceans became vast reservoirs of blank, tepid, acidic, fish-free nothingness. It was everything the scientists had warned us about, and more.
The ISQ team knew they were exposing themselves to retaliation from an army of dark financial interests. Every schoolchild knows that these foreigners – these aliens – had witnessed the destruction of their own world, and that their terrible loss infused them with a compassion and determination to save ours.
As children, so many of us went to sleep clutching little stuffed Mimizuku Samurai space owls, the silent defenders of the earth who followed the ISQ craft from the ethersphere as they traversed dimensions to find us. But it took many years for us to accept their presence, and even longer to understand their mysteries.
That knowledge informed the New Science, the foundation of our well-being on this planet.
The ISQ team showed us our future, if we did not pull together to alter it. We so wish they could see our wonderful world today and how their sacrifice was not wasted. Then again, it’s worth reminding readers we never found any trace of them, or the “device” they referred to in the journals they left behind. We only know they kept repeating the words “infinite worlds,” again and again. So much so that we incorporated them into our Universal Charter in 2112. Words we live by, but don't quite understand. Yet.
Some have speculated that they managed to escape to yet another world. I hope for that, hoping against hope, every single day.
– Astrid Xi-Cisneros, Exhibit Curator
14 Octobre 2151