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 a neighborhood was reduced to nothing but a war zone, 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 freedom-loving Antarctic religion, Anava Hinduism, came to be. Just as important was the creation of the Antarctic National Congress. The goal of the ANC was to create a united Free Republic throughout the entire Antarctic continent. In 2741, they drafted the Antarctic Constitution, and for the next fifty years, they laboured tirelessly to persuade the fractured governments of the continent to join the Free Republic under its founding document's principles. Finally, in 2789, the last holdouts joined, and for the first time in history, the Antarctic continent was united.

By the turn of the 29th century, the Free Republic was hard at work. A united police force was created to end the violence between Antarcticans, and religious organizations ceaselessly laboured to bring freedom and equality to a fractured and oppressed people. After fifty years of work, Antarctica was a better place than it had ever been in its history, and the improvements did not stop there. The innovative and generous Antarctic welfare state brought higher standards of living to all Antarcticans, and the network of motivational rules drove efficiency in the private sector to unprecedented heights while maintaining conscientious behaviours. After six hundred years of decay, technology, especially in the medical field, entered a second boom of innovation. After two hundred years of development, the technological and economic level of Antarctica in 3018 equals, and in some cases exceeds, those of a thousand years before.

In school, young Antarcticans are taught the full course of their continent's history, from the early climate change and refugees, to the miserable centuries of hate, violence, and suffering, to the first embers of hope and goodness, and their growth into a better future. They come out of it with a highly sobered view of their continent's past and present, and a sense of responsibility: to preserve, protect, and appreciate the modern nation of freedom and equality in which their ancestors never had the chance to live.