Alpha Centauri Wiki

Earth is the cradle of humanity and the first victim of our species.

Background[ | ]

Early in the 21st century, the long economic boom of the Industrial Age came to a crashing halt. Western civilization and its imitators had based all of their economic calculations on the assumption that Earth and its resources were infinite, free of cost. By the 2020s, it was obvious that Earth's bounty was finite after all.

Climate change and the depletion of supplies of fresh water were devastating agricultural regions worldwide, while decades of overuse left the world's fisheries impoverished. By 2025, famine was sweeping the Third World, and even First-World nations were faced with food shortages.

Meanwhile, the world's run on fossil fuels was having dire consequences. Petroleum deposits were still being discovered, but were increasingly difficult to exploit; a steep rise in oil prices was throwing the industrial nations into deep recession. Developing nations such as India and China were burning coal to fuel rapid industrialization. The result was a vast holocaust of coal, with the consequent release of greenhouse gases and pollutants.

Politics[ | ]

As famine swept the world and the industrial economy was rocked with shortages, every nation on Earth was faced with instability and rebellion. Even relatively prosperous nations had episodes of violent unrest, such as the left-wing coup that killed off the British monarchy in 2029, or the spasm of urban violence that wrecked the city of Los Angeles in 2036. In much of the world, civil government simply vanished beneath the tide of human desperation.

Of course, there was also formal war. Russia underwent a period of nationalist revival, fighting both China and the United States. The Crusader Conflicts decimated the Middle East, as Christians, Jews, and Muslims engaged in years of genocidal struggle. Finally, the old discord between India and Pakistan flared up into the Twelve Minute War, a nuclear exchange that killed almost half a billion people. By 2050, it was obvious to many that civilization was doomed - and that it might take all of Earth's life down with it.

The UNITY Mission[ | ]

Amid the chaos, there were some outposts of hope. In the early 21st century, several nations had built a permanent presence in space. There were small "orbital cities" circling Earth, great factories processing the loot of the asteroids. The Moon and Mars had been colonized. None of these ventures were likely to be self-sufficient in the event of Earth's collapse, but they were reason for cautious optimism.

In the late 2040s, some of Earth's leaders were looking even further afield. Telescopes revealed the presence of an earthlike planet in the nearby Alpha Centauri star system, and U.N. leaders proposed that a starship be built to carry several thousand scientists, engineers, and colonists to that distant world. If all went well, the massive effort might help reunify the nations of Earth. If the worst came to pass, the colonists would be safely away from whatever catastrophe finally claimed Earth's billions. Despite every obstacle, the Unity was built in high Earth orbit. Some nations contributed out of hope, others out of a desperate pride, still others out of a cynical desire for survival. Seven thousand people were chosen for the journey.

In July of 2060, the starship was launched, most of its crew in cryonic suspension. After the first few weeks, even the command crew entered their cryocells. Unity flew on through the dark for 40 years. Earth was lost.

Nations[ | ]

The following nations are known to have existed in Earth's final centuries: