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The scientists and health officials had been saying for years that the world was due for another pandemic, but none were prepared for the one that hit the world in 2029 and lasted for two years. A warming planet had been doing strange things to the life cycle and spread of viruses and pathogens while industrial civilization had slowly been losing ground with the efficacy of its antibiotics and drugs. And it didn’t help that in a capitalist world, Big Pharma was more interested in the large pay-off of a drug like viagra than in the investment and development of the next generation of antibiotics. Rampant overuse and abuse of such medicines in the medical and agricultural fields had allowed pathogens to mutate and overcome man’s pharmaceutical weapons, jumping from the animal population to the human world.

With the unraveling of the industrial world already well underway at the time due to peak oil, massive unemployment, and bankrupt governments, conspiracy theories ran rampant about the source of this deadly pandemic that at its height would kill tens of millions per day. Once the total numbers were tallied, nearly two-thirds of the global human population were found to have been wiped out. Some thought it was a genetically engineered disease released by a rogue government scientist, or perhaps a germ weapon research project gone awry, while others thought it was a State sponsored terrorist act. Few accepted the fact that this plague was simply the disastrous outcome of our blind faith in technology as well as Nature’s inevitable push-back from centuries of human assault and incursion. Ironically, it was not specifically peak oil or climate change or financial ruin that quickly brought down the globalized hi-tech world, but the microbial world unseen by the naked eye. The meek had indeed inherited the Earth. With 5 billion people dead and the economy in disarray, greenhouse gases plummeted, but too little too late to stop all the positive climatic feedback loops that had long since been set into motion. Of course nearly all of the global elite managed to cocoon themselves from the general population, avoiding the lethal airborne virus. Mother Nature had finally pulled an ace out of her sleeve for which there was no available antidote. The initial symptoms of the virus were flu-like, but quickly lead to bleeding from every orifice and a rapid filling of the lungs with fluid, suffocating its victims. Young and old were affected equally. Hospitals, overwhelmed by the number of victims, became more like morgues. Centers were set up to incinerate the mountains of bodies piling up throughout the cities.

Vitaly S Alexius Digital Art 07

The African Flu Pandemic of 2029, which is believed to have originated in the war-torn jungles of the Congo, became better known as “The First Great Culling”. Proper sanitation and medical services never fully returned in any country, and a large migration of survivors away from cities ensued in subsequent years. This was really the watershed moment in modern times where myths of eternal progress, the superiority of mega-cities, and the triumph of man over nature were shattered. The desperate extraction of the most dirty and dangerous sources of fossil fuel came to an abrupt end. Regional differences and conflicts temporarily disappeared while teetering governments, too traumatized to think about anything other than their own internal problems, administered triage to their surviving population. Industrial civilization had suffered a major heart attack. This mass die-off was only the first wave of catastrophes that would befall the world. Weapons of mass destruction would soon be used again as the Earth’s remnant human population fought to gain control of the remaining habitable areas in the polar regions.


Rhetoric about ‘civil society’ and ‘global cooperation’ were quaint ideas of a bygone era, now horribly out-of-date in these post-apocalyptic days of struggling to eke out an existence in inhospitable, resource-depleted places. The global elite simply became more cutthroat in the face of this brutal reality. Technology came to be used more and more as a tool of control and oppression over the lower class who were more than willing to be slaves if it meant a full stomach and a place to sleep in one of the underground sanctuaries built to escape climate chaos. Vast geoengineering projects became mankind’s primary endeavor as he vainly attempted to restore what he had so thoughtlessly and methodically destroyed.

Because we have created our own processed environment of roads, cars, industry, buildings, malls, homes; because we live in a world designed by capitalism, a world of incessant advertising, sales and the desperate, frantic pursuit of material things; we rarely, if ever, experience an intimate connection with the natural world we are hoping to save.

~ Salvatore Folisi