2058: a retrospective
t’s hard to believe that not so long ago we felt we’d reached the pinnacle of mankind.
“That’s it!” The Scientists cried. “We’ve discovered everything, created some new things, and know everything there is to know!” The Internet was deemed “full” by more people then is needed. It was, indeed, a good time to be alive. The year was 2053. And then the Oil Ran Out.
It was always going to happen, but denial is a terrible thing. Talk of a “crisis” was dismissed, but within a year of the Arab countries stopping their oil shipments, the rest of the world was declared devoid of oil. Some said we were back in the Stone Age- but in the Stone Age, people knew how to look after themselves. Western countries could just about survive, by using wind, hydrogen, waves, the sun, and incinerating speeding motorists (draconian punishments were necessary due to the premium on energy.)
It was hard to believe how far humanity had fallen in such a short time. The reliance on Black Gold was always going to be its eventual undoing, but once it became clear that more than a handful of oil tycoons had placed the decimal point a few places further to the right than was true, and a few Sheiks decided its much easier to not give any else their oil, the wheels came off society in a big way.
The UN’s contingency plan of sending disapproving letters to those concerned was met with a mass brawl at the summit in New York. Within weeks, it was disbanded and “every country for itself” became the mantra. By May 2055, Britain’s borders were shut and windmills started appearing everywhere. What London became was a shadow of its former self, a mere shell made mostly of power stations and TV Terminals (TV in the home was no more- streets could have only 1 TV between them. This led to many remote control based murders.)
Heating and lighting limitations were prevalent (a hour a day for each, combined). A town must be self sufficient- no excesses were allowed. London stopped being about art, or beauty, simply because they were deemed unnecessary. Everyone worked in either The Police (law enforcement, not the Sting-fronted rock group) or The Energy Board. There was no room for a Welfare sector; such people just weren’t talked about. Unemployment meant homelessness. And the homeless were forgotten.
The ruling bodies only cared about law enforcement, and energy conservation. Civil servants made up 60% of the work force. The ruling party had deemed elections a “needless indulgence”. So Tony Blair’s brain-in-a-jar (his attempted resurrection had been only a partial success) led the country for 17 years.
You didn’t “live” in London- you merely existed. Climate change meant it rained as regularly as in Wales, and it was never sunny- Incinerator units, and untreated fires, drenched the city in a permanent grey smog. Colour cost money and energy to create- so everything was functional, as stripped bare as possible. Official figures had the population in drastic decline, whereas the truth was many simply just disappeared into the underclass, where they’d brew home made gin most of the day, drink it at night, and repeat until dead. Such was a city where traffic wardens were seen as extravagant.
It was hard to believe how far humanity had fallen in such a short time. The reliance on Black Gold was always going to be its eventual undoing, but as it became clear that more than a handful of oil tycoons had placed the decimal point a few places further to the right than was true, the wheels came off society in a big way. The UN’s contingency plan of sending disapproving letters to those concerned was met with a mass brawl at the summit in New York. Within weeks, it was disbanded and “every country for itself” became the mantra. Within a year, Britain’s borders were shut and windmills appeared everywhere. National dismay at the situation was heightened by the cancelled release of Take That’s 35th studio album, with the band to never record again. This is still seen as the greatest loss of the Oil Tragedy.
But as always humanity recovered. Now the year is 2108- and as I sit here on Wimbledon common, wondering if I should of chained my Hover Bike a bit better to that bollard, it’s safe to say no matter how bad it may look at the time, things will work out in the end, even if you have to burn classic Damien Hurst works to power a few light bulbs.