"All right class, can anyone tell me the three most formative factors in the World Federation?" Mr Kepler asked the students facing him.
Zachary Foxx Jr. stood up.
"Yes, Master Foxx?"
"Sir, the three most formative factors in the early formation of the World Federation were the Fourth Global conflict, the Collapse of Archetypical governments, and the Exodus of 2047."
Mr. Kepler raised his eyebrows. "Well, Master Foxx, it looks like some of those after class lessons have begun to actually sink in. Very good. Would you care to expand on any one of those events to further educate us?"
"Yes, sir. I would. I'll expand on the Exodus of 2047, if it pleases the class." He looked around, and saw no objections, so Zach boldly plowed into his thesis.
"In 2045, a combination of global warming and massive industrial pollution of the oceans caused an irreversible chain reaction that began a cascading warming of the deep sea currents. We now know that intensive energy production using deep ocean thermal divergence also attributed to this, along with intensive undersea farming using hydrothermal vents. The end result was, between 2045 and 2047, the ocean level rose by eighty centimeters worldwide."
"At this time, the planet was undergoing the last of the world wars of the 21st century, now known as the fourth global conflict. The nation-states of the former middle east were reduced to ash and molten glass by the use of atomic level weapon systems and biological weapons were spread over a third of the planet's habitable surface. History records that nearly a billion people starved to death over those two years."
"A very dark picture of our past folly, Master Foxx. Was there a happy outcome?" Mr. Kepler prompted into the pause.
"Yes, sir. There was. In 2047, in an attempt to stop the very rapid decrease in population, what was left of the former United Nations mobilised all global resources and it's lunar and near earth orbit resources to construct a large number of orbital colonies to provide a safe haven for those people who were not directly infected by the massive biological weapons that had been sown during the war. While it was evisioned that the influx of refugees would be carefully monitored to ensure that only healthy individuals would end up in the safe havens, the massive overwhelming of the launch sites and bribery endemic to the era ensured that not only was the infectious diseases carried into orbit, but that they swept through the orbital colonies faster than they did over the planet's surface. Many tens of thousands died from the rapidly mutating diseases that ran uncontrolled through the orbital colonies."
"Some of the orbital colonies were taken over by the refugees, and among them was the L4 colony of Rembrant, and the L2 Colony Dante. Both of which became our most famous colony ships."
"Do you mean to tell us that those orbital colonies became starships? C'mon, Zach - that's silly - A starship needs a hyperdrive, and we didn't have those until 2086." Dan Graser commented.
"Let me finish, Dan, and all will be revealed." Zach replied.
"On board the Rembrant, the de facto leader of the refugees, Geoff Ascott - managed to access the worldnet and began to learn how to make his colony totally self-sufficient. He had a starting population of eighteen thousand, packed into an elongated cylinder two kilometers by eight hundred meters, with a rotational velocity sufficient to give it an internal gravity of half an earth g. He knew the colony's food supply couldn't support all of the people he had on board, but could it be increased? Yes, he learned how, and put some of the refugees to work designing both airponic and hydroponic foodstuffs to supplement the existing topsoil-based food stocks."
"It took him three months to make the orbital colony self-sufficient, and he lost nearly three thousand people in the process. You may ask why the United Nations didn't step in to retake control of the orbital colonies? By this time, global revolution had taken hold, and the planet was in total anarchy. Hundreds of millions died in the fighting, and millions more died trying to leave in anything that could take them into space. The three orbital cables that had been in place in Kenya, Rio de Janeiro, and Java were overloaded, and destroyed in the process of ferrying thousands every day up their eight hundred kilometer lengths. They have never been rebuilt."
"Ascott and the rest of the refugees decided the best thing to do was to leave Earth behind altogether and head out to another star system, following the paths of the asteroidal colony ships of the previous decades. They set about building a pulsed fusion drive, similar to those used by the asteroid mining ships, but a hundred times more powerful. They managed to secure plutonium breeder reactors from orbital satellites and managed, against all the odds, to cobble together a working orion drive system."
"Once it was assembled, they wasted no time but fired the engine up, and pulled free of Earth orbit, setting course to follow the colony ships that had left eight years before towards the system of Ozark. As we all know, the Rembrant was never heard from again once it left the solar system. But, it proved to a lot of the other orbital colonies that they were capable of leaving the system, and almost sixty of the other colonies did just that. Letting nearly half a million people escape from what they perceived was a dying planet."
"But, as we are all proof, the Earth wasn't dying. Please continue, Master Foxx." Mr. Kepler indicated.
"The massive upwelling of thermal heat that caused the melting of the global icepack had continued for five years, eventually raising the sea level by one hundred centimeters and reshaping the contours of our planet. Out of the ashes of the former nation-states and shattered companies rose a small group of technologically adept, powerful organisers who called themselves the World Leaders. They were all that was left of the former government and political bodies that had guided our world for more than four hundred years."
"They provided those sprawling aimless masses with a goal and guidance. And we all flocked to them as the new leaders. By 2051, the upwelling of water had ceased, and the oceans and storms had abated to their new and current level."
"Thank you, Master Foxx, that was a well-researched and informed speech. Excellent work." Mr. Kepler looked around at the rest of the class. "Would anyone else care to tell us all about one of the other two factors in the formation of the World Federation?"
The class looked around nervously, but the bell rang, signalling the end of the session. As they all stood and prepared to leave, Mr. Kepler walked to the front. "Class is out for the weekend, people. But on Monday I want you to all be prepared to give me a three minute speech on the early impressions of the Arrival of the Ambassadors to Earth, from the point of view of a normal citizen."
Zach picked up his books and pads and pushed them into his bagf, then followed the other boys out of the classroom and into the hall of his school. He was looking forward to going home for the weekend and seeing his Dad, sister, and Mom again after spending all week at the school, but was surprised to see his Dad waiting outside for him.
"Hi Dad!" He said.
"Zach, how was school?" His Dad, Captain Zachary Foxx, leader of the Series 5 Galaxy Rangers asked as he walked with his son towards the main doors of the school.
"Fine Dad. I finished my report and gave the speech to the class today."
"The report on the Great Exodus?" Zach Sr. asked.
"Yep, the teacher said I did an excellent job. I should get great marks for it."
Zach Sr. nodded. "Oh, that reminds me... Deep Space sensors located an unusual blip on sensors today, about six hours ago. I'm going with the team to investigate. It looks like they've found the Rembrant."