2157 - A VISION OF THE FUTURE
Chapter Fourteen: The 21st Century - Narrative
The 20th century must probably be seen as the most disastrous
period for wild animals since the Great Extinction, although domesticated animals
had a good time, with substantial increases in their numbers, their health and
their treatment. The 21st century began with the same pattern, but went sharply
into reverse during the 2020s and 2030s due to a number of main factors:
- Environmental concerns took centre stage in the early
years of the century, and the invention of 'trelectricity' (transparent, photosynthetic
coatings on leaves which generate electron flow in plant or tree stems) in
2018 led to a rapid increase in forest cover worldwide.
- The perfection of large scale manufacturing of cheap,
cultured food substitutes in the late 2010s meant a rapid diminution in the
acreage devoted to farming, although at least until 2040 this was partly offset
by burgeoning human populations.
- RCR pets began to supplant 'legacy' pets in the late
2020s, and by 2040 had completely driven out the original forms, which were
represented by their genomes, held in electronic form, of course, for possible
use in the colonization of planets.
- The last years of the 20th century and the early years
of the 21st century had seen great advances in understanding of the habitats
and behavioural characteristics of wild animals, and successful breeding of
endangered species in many zoos worldwide. 'Electric forests', as well as
providing ample, clean energy for humanity, also made wonderful habitats for
wild animals. The seas also quickly recovered their diversity and fecundity
once it was no longer necessary to catch fish.
By 2040, therefore, there were virtually no domestic
animals other than pet RCRs (although some types of racing animal maintained
their position until as late as 2050), while populations of wild animals on
the other hand were growing back into the new electric forests which by then
covered more than 30% of the earth's land surface.