Waste-Age, a Scifi Short Story
A Short Story by Tamara Wilhite
“Now we turn our attention to one of the most frightful periods of mankind’s long history. We call it “The Age of Waste”, and it lasted just under a century, from about 1940 to about 2030.
In the mid-Twentieth Century, there was a Second World War. Fortunately for the survivors of that conflict, Atomic Energy had barely been developed into a portable weapon. However, a much more serious threat had been developed – use of petroleum.
Plastics saw only limited use in the Second World War. Immediately after that war, their use expanded dramatically. The next century was once called ‘The Plastic Age’ or “Petroleum Age”. Petroleum used for fuel and industry before this point, but its use literally exploded.
However, the material pumped from the ground merely changed form. The petroleum underground was transformed, used, then unused above ground. The disposal problem appeared first.‘Landfills’ were disposal sites where these unwanted remains were simply buried, thinking that the problems with them somehow just vanished as they were now out of sight. As ‘landfills’ filled up, ocean-dumping of this trash expanded. This poisoned the oceans and made the sea-life, which used to be a safe food source, grew toxic and inedible.
Petroleum reserves existed in the most inhospitable lands, for both people and ideas. This fuel, of course, naturally had to be paid for with both money and loss of control of our most vital need at the time - energy. Those who sought to spread primitive ideas via oil wealth even built their own nuclear weapons, in the hopes of forcing others to bow down to the Moon God. Some ancestors worshiped one god, others goddesses, others none. The power of the Atom God, though, was our salvation.
Atomic Energy was non-petroleum. However, that path was blocked by those ruled by fear. Wind and Water power efforts were held back by those who thought only of their forest or mountain views, and not of all the world’s needs. Then there came the time to seek energy from the living world. Living from the land, fuel for machines via food.
It was not a good time to live through. Food riots began as mandated biofuels drove up the cost of food. Disruptions in transportation brought lack of water and food to other places. Fighting over resources brought war and panic and refugees with disease. And refugees brought bad ideas for the world into the few places that were unharmed by human action. All the world was dying, and those who worshipped the Moon god rained down plagues and human bombs to frighten us into their death.
A large die-off of human population levels occurred worldwide, though not as quickly as our ancestors planned. This was because the nuclear weapons used preemptively by our ancestors on the large, consumer based cities did not kill as many as expected. It did, however, end those who worshiped the Moon god, and the breeder mentality and violence they brought. The bombs upon the Moon God worshipers and those like them also made the oil reserves across the world unreachable for all. There would be no more downward circle. When the air cleared, it would clear for good.
This Second Nuclear Age brought about the end of the age of waste. The nuclear bombs detonated among the largest hundreds of cities reduced the world population drastically, while the fire bombs of our ancestors kept those who had succumbed to that unsustainable life style within the fallout radius. Like a cancer that must be burned away, much was burned. Yet it ended all of those who lived the age of waste.
And though such mass death was violent, it spared those innocent tribes that had never stepped into the Age of Waste as well as those that turned their backs to the Age of Waste and had chosen to live in harmony upon the land. The weapons built by the Moon God worshipers had been stolen, yes, theft, but used to make the world safe for the Green Mother to reclaim. All who harmed her and who could not live without harming her were gone, along with all they had built. Balance was restored.
That brings us to our present day. We are back to a level that is sustainable via efficient, organic agriculture and home-grown industry. We recycle the materials we mine from the “land fills” to provide the few things we cannot grow ourselves. The ubiquitous plastic bags they carelessly disposed of now act as rain catches for our clean water. The plastic waste that they could find no use for burns for our boilers to boil our water, so that we do not die of cholera and other water borne diseases of our less advanced neighbors.
We appreciate our ancestors who brought the better old ways back so that we may live as we are meant to live, and the second Nuclear Age they brought.
Class dismissed for the season. See you after all the crops are all in.”