by Max Barry

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Antarctic History

The modern history of the Antarctic continent begins over a thousand years ago, in the late 20th century, when humanity began to release significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere as a cheap way to generate energy. Throughout the rest of the 20th and 21st centuries, scientists warned humanity with increasing urgency about the inevitable consequences. In a display of business as usual, they were ignored. As a result, by the time carbon-burning technologies finally became obsolete in the late 21st century, there were 650 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more than twice the amount that existed two centuries earlier. While the carbon dioxide level remained roughly stable after the turn of the century, the climate did not.

The effects of carbon dioxide on the Antarctic climate were evident even in the 20th and 21st centuries. Glaciers retreated, shelves of sea ice broke apart, and at one point, a nation-sized swath of the ice sheet briefly melted and re-froze. As it turned out, these changes were just the tip of the iceberg. By the turn of the 22nd century, the western half of the ice sheet was already melting away into the sea. As a result, large areas of land on the Antarctic Peninsula were exposed to the air for the first time in 34 million years. Perhaps inevitably, the land soon became home to members of the world's most widespread species: humans.

Throughout the 22nd century, many of the most populated areas in the world began to sink under the accumulating meltwater, and as a result, hundreds of millions of people found themselves homeless. Most of them simply made for the nearest high ground they could find. However, a few went on to settle a place that now had much more room for them: Antarctica. By the turn of the 23rd century, the Antarctic Peninsula was home to several million refugees from a number of places: the northeastern United States, southern England and northern France, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Odisha, southern India, the northern Chinese lowlands, and the Kantō plain. Throughout the centuries, the ice continued to recede, and the refugees gradually proliferated throughout the continent. By the time the climate finally stabilized, in the 28th century, the ice was confined to the high mountain ranges, and full-fledged human cities dotted every part of the continent. It is therefore a most saddening thing that, in reaching this point, Antarcticans suffered several centuries of hell on earth.

For much of the 25th, 26th, and 27th centuries, Antarctica was a failed society. Mass shootings, bombings, and other such acts of murder and terrorism often occurred within days of each other. Many neighborhoods were reduced to nothing but war zones, often for decades at a time. This extremely violent and hateful society came to be because the minds of the Antarctic people were closed off from the value of all human life. Their only belief was in the superiority of themselves and their own characteristics, and the primitive desire to inflict suffering upon anyone who was unlike them. In this hellish place, where all aspects of civility were long since thrown away, the deepest well of goodness inherent in humanity was itself brought to the surface, where, after all the miserable centuries, it became the salvation of Antarctica.

After three miserable centuries of hate, violence, and suffering, the Antarctic people knew, in the deepest sense of the word, that their society was purely and simply wrong. Throughout the 28th century, social movements sprung up to try and set things right. Thus the humanist and freethinking Antarctic religion, Anava Hinduism, came to be. This religion held up human happiness and the end of suffering as the ultimate divinity in the universe. Imbued by spiritual purpose, Antarcticans slowly began to cross the divides of society in friendship and love, and began to build the way towards a happier future for all.

No less important was the creation of the Antarctic National Congress. Created in 2741 by a group of concerned citizens, the ANC sought to bring an end to division in Antarctica by bringing it together under a single Free Republic, governed not by persons or groups, but by a Constitution based on the principle of human rights and freedoms. The ANC soon began a steady expansion throughout the continent, as its countless small, fractured domains eagerly ratified the Constitution in hopes of a better future, until by 2789, Antarctica was, for the first time in history, united.

Under the banner of the Free Republic, Antarctic society finally began to break free from the challenges that had long held it back. United under ideals of peace, kindness, and equality, and the protection of a competent and well-funded government, the evils of violence and bigotry gradually became things of the past. The ANC's new economic system fueled strong and steady economic growth, and prosperity finally began to reach the hands of the Antarctic people. As time passed, the continent did not go without its share of challenges, but ultimately, nothing defeated the dedication and hard work of its people.

Transformed by centuries of bloodshed, turmoil, and the efforts of its people to secure a better future, the Antarctica of the new millennium is a society remade and renewed. The Antarctic people view it as their utmost civic duty to never revisit the bloodshed and turmoil of the past, and after hundreds of lost years and millions of lost lives, are ready to bring forth a millennium free from the suffering in which their ancestors were forced to live.