After the great war of 2076, several nations vanished from the earth. The land was redistributed by the new continental government created from what was previously the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
A comet struck the land mass once considered the Middle east disintegrating most of the Euphrates river and blanketing the earth with dark soot. Crude oil was the first casualty of the new globe but its departure gave way to increased use of solar power. The comet tore a hole in the fragile atmosphere burning off critical protective layers shielding all life on earth from the Sun. The rivers that remained evaporated. With a need for fresh drinking water, great strides were made in the desalinization of the seas. What no one could predict was how quickly the population of earth and the new hostile atmosphere would consume the available surface water.
People tried to cope with the new reality of life on Earth. Thinning the world’s population was considered the only viable solution for the growing water problem. Military relocation campaigns targeted entire regions for mass extinction in an effort to seize water reserves. Water reclamation became everything. Assisted suicides gave way to more civilized rituals cheerfully named Life Celebrations. In these celebrations families and friends gathered to celebrate the elder who was surrendering their life. Many felt their sacrifice was necessary to conserve scarce items like food, water, and medicines ensuring their families would have a greater chance of survival.
The government, never one to miss an opportunity, rode the coattails of popular dogma and began euthanizing prisoners and those with unwanted physical and emotional disabilities as a way to cull the human herd and strengthen the stock. Most forms of organized religions were banned as a result of widespread and uncontrolled terrorist actions against the new government.
The Catholic church, having a powerful influence over its followers, held out the longest. In the end, many cathedrals survived by converting into hospitals and dormitories for the unclaimed of society. Theology study is still allowed under the guise of ancient historical studies. There are rumors of small groups that still follow the old religions. Of course, these rumors are ignored as punishment for such lunacy would be death.
The world’s population, reduced to almost one-eighth of its inhabitants, began a race against mother nature. Finding a habitable planet that could be reached and colonized within the standard human lifespan proved to be a greater challenge than science anticipated. Several planets selected early on in the process were later found incapable of supporting human life. The definition of a habitable zone was redefined many times. As each new planet was eliminated from the list of possibilities the rate of life celebrations increased.
Concentrated efforts were made in the areas of propulsion and human engineering allowing greater distances to be traversed faster and ensuring the human animal could survive the journey. With the combined efforts of humanity, free of governmental posturing, several vital advances were made allowing populations to carve out stable and prosperous lives in harsh conditions. A highly educated population lives on the planet with the common goal of finding a new home.
Citizens are required to choose a path of focus for their contribution to society and adhere to many laws regarding family size and the use of natural resources. The punishment for violent crime is death. Non-violent crimes require reprogramming and community atonement. In 2187 everyone understands and accepts these facts. Though, as always, there are people who oppose the system. They live outside the cities and are known as Reds.