Sleep in the Grave You Dug (Dystopian Short Story)

All the World Leaders were in attendance at the UN HQ for the World Leaders Conference. The year was 3000 A.D and the first conference of the new millennium would also be the most important UN session in history. Every President, Prime Minister, King, Queen, Prince and Emir was present in the enormous hall which was filled with the finest quality air, notable for its high oxygen content.

Clean air was now among the most highly-valuable commodities. The concept of renewable energy was pressed under the thumb of the powerful fossil fuel lobbies who intended to keep their business running as long as the stock of their black gold lasted. The loosely-organized international cartel kept the planet dependent on coal and oil for hundreds of years by using their abundant funds and connections to suppress the use of renewable energy. Adding to Mother Earth’s woes was indiscriminate deforestation for the purpose of constructing more cities. After centuries of contamination, the air and water worldwide were poisonous. This change, however, was imperceptible to anyone on the planet. Life expectancy had never crossed 80, owing to the Religious Resurgence of the 2050’s which lasted for hundreds of years. As a result, no individual lived long enough to notice an observable change.

The Resurgence was a religious revolution which came after a period in the early 21st century when the influence of religion was at an all-time low. The tides turned in the 2050’s by which time every major religion had become extremist and went to war with each other backed by sympathetic governments. The bloody war ended with the formation of the One Earth Religion whose doctrine borrowed from all the former faiths. The priests and preachers who were at the core of the new religion became the most influential people on the planet. One of the most important decrees commanded by them was the abolishment of all scientific education that conflicted with One Earth mythology. Consequently, most scientific advancements were lost or abandoned and science stagnated. This posed a big issue, as humans were relying heavily on scientific advancements to solve the pollution problem. By 2500, people’s way of life had not changed but the environment had changed completely. History repeats itself and those in power realized the importance of science once again, but it was already quite late.

Unpredictable shifts in natural rhythms made renewable energy and sustainable development ideas of the past. Solar energy could have been a brilliant alternative but was now just a dream, because of the global smog blocking out most sunlight. Despite the deteriorating conditions which made everyday life difficult even for the wealthy, protests and riots never happened as going out into the open required expensive equipment, especially when it rained.

A UN report in 2600 had estimated that the planet’s oxygen reserves would last for a minimum of one thousand years. It was found in 2700 that this report was grossly erroneous and that oxygen reserves would only last another hundred and fifty years. Money was poured into research to find methods of artificially synthesizing oxygen, but there was not a single method that was efficient enough to handle the whole planet’s needs. The price of clean air escalated beyond imagination and over the next hundred years, the poor sections of the population who could no longer afford air nor had any wealthy sympathizers slowly suffocated away. This meant an increase in the oxygen available for the affluent, but sadly even with this increase it would not be possible to sustain everyone for more than two hundred years.

The clock had almost ticked away on that timeframe and all the World Leaders had gathered to decide on a course of action. They knew beforehand that the UN Conference of the year 3000 would not only be the most important ever, but quite possibly also the last. With most of the world that they lead now dead, and their own deaths looming over head, a sense of humility had descended upon these last remnants of the Homo Sapiens. Understanding that death was inevitable, they unanimously agreed to not fight over air. But the thought of patiently waiting for the final day when humanity would choke was too uncomfortable to live with. Therefore, a self-annihilation pact was signed between all the leaders. The tried-and-tested method of nuclear destruction was employed to mercy kill all remaining humans.

As mushroom clouds rose up from every inhabited part of Earth, resilient creatures which had escaped extinction despite centuries of humans' inconsiderate carnage scurried for cover. In the following millions of years, Mother Earth would adjust her systems to allow a new cycle of life to bloom. Among her new children were offshoots of plants, insects and rodents, but there was nothing resembling a human to be found. Ironic for a creature which considered itself the most intelligent known organism in the universe.