Saturday, December 28, 2013

The New World

For over a century, the scientists had warned of a coming ecological disaster.  Whether it was the burning of fossil fuels, the production of chemical waste products, the ever-increasing acid rain, the constant erosion of top soils, the poisoning of the oceans, the rise in global warming....their warnings all seemed to be ignored.  There had been no political will to change any of the threatening policies until well after a tipping point had been reached and the process was irreversible--their home planet was ruined.

For a while, a few scientists had predicted that planetary feed-back mechanisms would kick in, reversing the process.  Indeed, the current predictions showed that the process might eventually reverse itself--but not for tens of thousands of years. 

If the race were to survive, it would have to be on a new planet.  After decades of searching, a suitable world was discovered.  While it would support life, the new planet did have certain drawbacks: it was colder than home, the gravity was heavy enough to be uncomfortable, and, worst of all, the planet was already occupied by a semi-sentient race. 

The numerous natives were technologically inferior--to such a low degree that it hinted that they would never reach an advanced state of civilization.  On the other hand, they were fecund and violent, and seemed to have little regard for life--even their own.

Only a few thousand lucky individuals were selected to emigrate to the new world--the bare minimum necessary to reproduce their culture, even with the extensive electronic library of literature and reference works they brought with them.  And since the colony would be small and vulnerable for several generations while they struggled to establish their new home, they would have to take special precautions.

The colony would be established in a sparsely-populated portion of the world, in an area where the inhospitable terrain would offer additional protection.  Unfortunately, the most desirable lands in the warmest areas near the equator, were also the lands most populated by the natives--but this could not be helped. 

Using advanced methods of in-vitro fertilization, the colony was planned to become relatively secure within a few generations.  In the meantime, between their advanced technology and the remoteness of the colony location, the colonists believed themselves to be secure from attack by the natives.  While the colonists tried to blend in with their surroundings, they would work hard to establish a working relationship with the indigenous inhabitants,.  If they could coexist with the savages, they could find ways to control them, or else--as a last resort--use their technology to defend themselves.

The natives (at least those close enough to the colony to be observed) used only soft metals such as gold, silver, and copper.  They had no sophisticated tools and possessed no machines--all work was accomplished by muscle power alone.  The aborigines were tribal, superstitious, and almost constantly at war with themselves.  The natives would have been described as child-like, if not for their astonishing cruelty.

And the new world was rich in unexploited resources.  If left alone for only a few generations, the colonists could easily adapt and would eventually dominate the new world and its resources.  If possible, they would share the planet with natives.  If not, the colony would survive even if the natives did not.

Some progress in controlling the natives was already evident.  A simple barter system was established where the natives received food and trinkets in exchange for manual labor.  The make-work labor was pointless as the true goal was to establish control over the childlike creatures, for they were so unsophisticated that  they were put to use making simple designs in the landscape or other useless tasks. 

The colonists were not unduly worried, but there was evidence that distant natives were becoming increasingly aware of their presence.  For what appeared to be the first time, natives from a distant continent were visiting the same continent as the colony.  While this was unusual, there was little to be worried about, as the distant natives were only slightly more sophisticated than the childlike locals.

It is tragic to contemplate the incredible human cost that Spanish exploration caused in the new world.  Isolated for thousands of years, the natives of the new world had no immunities to the diseases that were common in Europe.  This is troubling for today's anthropologists, for the diseases spread so much faster than the explorers did. 

The first sight that most of the conquistadors had of new civilizations was quite often a scene of desolation--of funerals and abandoned settlements.  Even Hernando Cortez wrote that, while riding into the great Aztec city of Tenochtitl√°n for the first time, he observed that it contained many empty buildings.

While major diseases such as malaria, smallpox, plague, and yellow fever killed tens of millions--even common ailments took their toll.  The natives succumbed to chicken pox, measles, and the flu.

Archaeologists working in South America outside of Nasca, Peru, have just started to uncover the extensive site of a hitherto unknown and highly technologically advanced tribe that appears to have perished from the common cold.

No comments:

Post a Comment