Read Chapter 27 “The Old Continent”
In 1999 people were innocent enough to believe that environmental decline and ecological collapse was a long way away. The public assumed that, even if the eco doom was going to happen at some point, it was going to be so far into the future that none of them would be affected by that tragedy. Life was too good to even consider minimizing the massive individual consumption to cushion the upcoming devastation.
Social progress was made, and humanity was flourishing on so many levels. People felt ecstatic and optimistic about the future, saving the environment wasn’t on the agenda.
Booming economics and immense focus on capital growth resulted in shrinking, surprisingly finite, natural resources. In reality, the unprecedented and exploitive consumption left Earth unbalanced, polluted and bleeding painfully.
The division between the new (modern, liberal) and old (patriarchal, reactionary) ways of living wasn’t turned into a culture war as yet. But the actors, who were personally going to benefit from the divide, slowly started emerging onto the political and business stage.
1999 was still a few years away from the social media revolution, Internet rage and profit-only driven policies that happily sacrificed everything and everyone that stood in their way. In 1999 people didn’t mind using brick phones, for as long as they worked. Owning a new phone every year or changing a computer every two years wasn’t a status necessity, yet. Influencers, as a social group, didn’t exist, and young people didn’t aspire to be famous for the sake of consuming, most preferably for free.
It was still safe to eat fish without fear of eating too much plastic. Fast fashion wasn’t that fast or that cheap either. Public transport was affordable and cheap airlines didn’t have the monopoly to rule the skies.
However, even though the plastic wasn’t causing water pollution yet, the plastic waste was already overflooding the land. Cheaply made goods began making their way to every household around the globe, leaving behind a trail of plastic pollution and consumer debts.
Regrettably, in the 1990s, even the most pessimistic environmental activists didn’t foresee the bleak future that was just a few short decades away.
1999 was the last instant to wake up to global warming and eco devastation. It was the final moment to refocus human energy towards building a sustainable future from the ground up. But instead, the political and business class, skilfully aided by the celebrities, decided to advocate for global domination of wastefulness, while promoting over-consumption on credit.
Jessica’s creative talent, her engineering abilities and skills were widely visible across Ecotopia. She started building and inventing when she was only eight years old. Her lifestyle inventions helped Ecotopia jumped through hundreds of years of development in a few short years, setting Ecotopia way ahead of the Old World.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Jessica was the first one to land in Oxley Woods. Luckily the tunnel opened in a secluded part of the woods, away from the curious eyes. She found refugee amongst the trees for the first couple of nights, waiting for the rest of the team to successfully cross the tunnel.
However, after two freezing days and nights of waiting in the open, she ventured outside of her hiding spot.
Since she wasn’t certain when and if anyone else was coming she knew she needed to secure shelter to be able to carry on with her mission, regardless if the rest of the team was coming or not.
But every night she returned to her landing spot and patiently waited for the rest of her team to show up.
To Jessica’s greatest surprise her second day after arrival repeated itself, which made her realized that she was stuck in some type of time loop. However, the significant difference between the present day and the day she arrived was that she didn’t jump out of the time tunnel when it opened. This discovery made Jessica slightly concerned about the future arrivals of her teammates. She wondered if they would be able to travel to the same day she did if the events during the day can change the outcome of the next day.
To Jessica’s greatest relief, the actions she took one day had permanent implications on the next day, even though in a way it was still the same day. That proven that changing the future with the right actions was possible.
Since Jessica didn’t like wasting time and keeping active was often her way of coping with challenging circumstances, she wandered the streets of London for hours at the time. She was surprised to discover so much wastefulness polluting pavements, streets and parks. People used cars a lot, instead of biking or using public transport. London was swallowing up smaller towns, destroying natural habitats of insects, animals and plants to make way for houses, roads, shops and train tracks.
The global political stage was stable enough to start introducing the much-needed environmental change. However, the understanding of climate decline and the cost of a consumption-led lifestyle was pretty low amongst society. More shopping, higher spending, and endless trips to shopping centres were the daily norm.
Even though Jessica was stuck on New Year’s Eve that day was still filled with business, people running around and lots of unkindness instead of reflection and preparation to embrace the new Millennium. The day surely didn’t feel festive at all.
The Rest of The Team
Luckily, the time tunnel sent every single member of the Ecotopian team to the same timeline, which Jessica welcomed with relief. By the time the rest of the team arrived, Jessica was already set up perfectly well in 1999. The accommodation, food provision and financial support were all in place to make the team’s job go as smoothly as possible.
However, for some unknown reason to Jessica, she began feeling uneasy regarding their mission.
She spent a significant amount of time on her own and slowly started to recognise that Maggie’s initial plan to start building the spaceship to move humanity to another planet wasn’t the right solution. She wondered if perhaps there was a way out of the wastefulness and self-destroying trajectory they could take to re-set the future. What if travelling even further back in time to plant the seeds of change was a better idea? Soon she grew to believe that teaching humanity how to build sustainable circular habits to save the future ought to be the team’s propriety.