30 May 2018 Edition
In the mid-twenty-first century World War Three came around, but not as expected. The post World War Two Communist versus Capitalist conflict died of bankruptcy. The Palestinian State versus the Israeli State conflict of the 1940s to the 1960s grew into the Muslim versus Jew conflict of the late twentieth century, which then grew in to the Muslim Extremist versus Everyone Else conflict of the twenty-first century. The unrest was fuelled by the Middle Eastern oil deposits. The conflicts and instability in the region unsettled many countries. This resulted in a major shift to alternative fuels, solar energy, wind generators, with bio-diesel being the big winner. Bio-diesel fuel from non-food crops, excess food crops, and crop waste; all this was a renewable fuel while petroleum wasn’t. A major aspect of bio-diesel was you could grow it locally instead of importing it at a great expense to the environment and your bank account. When the use of bio-diesel grew big in developed countries the value of petroleum dropped, the money for Muslim religious extremism fell, and then that cause died of bankruptcy too. No funds meant no weapons, and the fight for control of the oil died in a whimper as not worth fighting for now.
What finally happened was a group of nationalist religious fanatics in the USA Department of Defence Research Establishments joined with like-minded politicians to take control of the USA by blackmail. The government gives into their demands and quickly folds, but the people don’t, so a civil war starts. A biological weapon is deployed, a variant cross of the Rubella virus with the Mumps. It quickly spreads from continent to continent, and from island to island, until the whole world population is infected. It isn’t fatal in itself, and it kills only ten percent of the people. However, its effects cause worldwide social upheaval, and civil wars break out in all of the countries, and they result in a lot of deaths. Governments break down, so companies take control to stabilise the economy to protect their investments. The companies use mercenary troops with no strong national ties. The corporations fight for control of the world economy, then the people fight them too.
The bio-weapon was designed to special parameters. It can infect an uninfected person, and move from an infected person to an uninfected person, but it can’t live within an infected person for more than fourteen days, as their anti-bodies will kill it if given time. Nor can it live outside of the human body for more than a few hours. After everyone in the world is infected the virus dies out within a few weeks, so it ceases to be. However, it did leave a residual fingerprint in the plasma of all those it infected, and a milder form is passed on to their children. This weakens with each new generation, and it will die out after enough generations.
During The Disorders, the name historians give the thirty years of war, seventy percent of the world population dies. Of the people left alive ninety-nine percent of the adult males and sixty-eight percent of the adult females are sterile. Also, sixty-five percent of pregnancies miscarry, which is an unplanned side effect of the bio-weapon. The figures are different for those born after the virus died out because they weren’t infected by the original form thus the rate of miscarriage is lower. So the rate of miscarriages starts to drop. The bulk of the children born are female, and the rate of fertile births once again starts to rise. The result is an imbalance that threatens the survival of the human race. However, a few people seem to defy the statistics by having a much higher fertility rate than most of the others, the reason for this is the subject of research, very intense research, but it still isn’t known why or fully understood.
There are some major problems with severe social adjustments. A new government arises from within the winning corporations, a worldwide one, ‘The World Council;’ in the worldwide elections some members are elected every five years, and a few may be elected for life. The new worldwide social structure is a cross of socialism and capitalism. You can improve your situation by accumulating resources, and you can pass them on to others. However, many functions are seen as essential community functions, and are handled as such. Access to many resources is under a tight control, and each person is given an allocation of essential resources. You can obtain extras when they’re available and if you’ve the resources to pay for them. Basic education is a right while anything above that is earned or bought. Much of the extra education is provided as part of employment conditions. Services and goods are provided at rates set by the World Council, so are wages and interest rates.
There’s a single worldwide currency based on an individual’s work. An hour of unskilled work at the most basic level is rated as one work credit unit, called a unit. Plastic coins of varying values are made and issued, they’re called markers or marks. A one unit coin is called a mark, a ten unit coin is known as ten marks. Most transactions are done electronically, with the coins often being used for tips and bonuses for personal services given. People are credited with a number of units for their work based on their skills and the returns from their work. Some rates are based on the benefit to the community, some on the returns of selling the product of their work.
Fifteen years after The Disorders the world is preparing to enter the twenty-second century; the population is still falling, but the birth rate is now nearing the death rate. Seventy-five percent of births are fertile females while twenty-three percent are sterile males, and two percent are fertile males; these rates have been constant over the last ten years. Only ten percent of pregnancies miscarry, and that rate is dropping each year.
All of the people have their DNA checked and registered at birth, and all fertile children are screened for genetic defects too. One positive side effect of the virus is it makes any other significant genetic defect result in a miscarriage very early in the pregnancy; thus the gene pool is now a lot cleaner than it was before the release of the virus. There are no new births with severe genetic issues like Downe Syndrome, Haemophilia, Fragile X, etc. The genetic make up of the fertile people is so clean the Breeder Control Office (BCO) isn’t worried about the possibility of close in-breeding causing issues, as there are now no identifiable bad recessives to be worried about. Also, their top genetics experts believe the passed on form of the virus will stop any malformed foetuses from carrying to term. Another unexpected windfall is the virus has also killed off all sexually transmitted diseases, the world is now free of them all.
A Changed World
Fertile males are a prime resource while there’s a glut of young fertile females. With a need to increase the population arrangements are made to encourage wide-scale breeding by the fertile adult males. Males are given fertility drugs to increase stamina and frequency of performance. Both genders are cleared for sex when the medical board decide their sexually active lifestyle and breeding won’t cause any mental health issues, and they’re physically able to perform their duties. No artificial barriers like their social standing are allowed. Parenting skills, or their lack, isn’t a problem because most children are raised in crèches run by well trained specialists skilled in raising children, and most men don’t know their children, unless they’ve had the mother assigned to them on a permanent basis prior to the birth. Because of this system few men need parenting skills, and most aren’t involved with raising their children at all. However, some men do get involved in raising some of their children.