Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Octavia Butler, Star Trek
Life imitates art far more than art imitates life—Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying”
This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.
The war in Ukraine may enter a second horrifying year, with both sides convinced they can win. Ukraine’s sovereignty and broader European security arrangements that have largely been held since the end of World War II are at stake. Also, Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks.
And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.
A time of unprecedented danger: It is 90 seconds to midnight. Editor, John Mecklin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The above is a publication from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, trying to warn us away from the precipice since mankind opened the proverbial nuclear Pandora’s box.
It’s easy to assume that Earth’s history in Star Trek is the same as the real world before Vulcans made First Contact with humanity in 2063, but there are numerous unique divergences. Star Trek: The Original Series established that a devastating global conflict called the Eugenics Wars gripped the Earth in the 1990s, which was followed by World War III in the 21st century. TOS and Star Trek: Enterprise episodes touched upon aspects of World War III, which led to 600 million deaths and the capitals of every major country on Earth destroyed. Star Trek: First Contact showed the aftermath of World War III as the human race was still picking up the pieces a decade after the war ended. Further, the Star Trek: Discovery season 2 episode “New Eden” revealed that the Red Angel (Sonja Sohn) transported a group of World War III survivors to a planet in the Beta Quadrant.
After Captain Pike realized that Kiley 279 reverse-engineered Starfleet’s warp technology to build a warp bomb to use against each other in their civil war, he broke General Order One and used Earth’s World War III history as a cautionary parable in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ premiere. In perhaps the most significant download of information about past wars in Star Trek, Pike revealed that the United States of America actually had a second Civil War at some point in the late 20th century, which erupted over freedoms and rights. The second Civil War was soon followed by the Eugenics Wars in the 1990s when genetic engineering created Augments who became global warlords, chief among them Khan Noonien-Singh (Ricardo Montalbán). After the Augments were defeated, there was a period of peace, as seen in Star Trek: Picard season 2, before World War III erupted in 2026 and lasted for thirty years.
Pike further revealed that World War III was a nuclear holocaust that resulted in the death of 30% of the Earth’s population. In addition, 600 million lifeforms were lost on the planet, which consists of untold flora and fauna. In order to preserve nature that would be lost on a planet irradiated by nuclear weapons, scientists launched seedpods into space that eventually grew in orbit. Amazingly, when the human race became a spacefaring society, Starfleet built Starbase One around the seed pods, which explains the domed forests surrounding the space station. Thankfully, Pike’s Earth history lesson had the desired effect on Kiley 279’s leadership and population. The Enterprise’s Captain brokered peace on Kiley 279 so that they didn’t repeat the Terran homeworld’s tragic mistakes.
Strange New Worlds Solves Star Trek’s World War III Mystery. John Orquiola, Screen Rant
The above is fiction. 30% of the Earth’s population is 2.4 billion souls wiped out, in addition to the disease, death, and wholesale dystopia that would be the planet post-civilization.
Caveat: It doesn’t appear that Zephram Cochrane has been born yet. There are no Vulcans to Deus ex Machina [rescue] us from ourselves. We’re on our own to survive or become extinct in societal suicide like Octavia Butler’s “smooth dinosaurs.”
We need the stars… We need purpose! We need the image of Destiny to take root among the stars and give us of ourselves as a purposeful, growing species. We need to become the adult species that Destiny can help us become! If we’re to be anything other than smooth dinosaurs who evolve, specialize, and die, we need the stars…. When we have no difficult, long-term purpose to strive toward, we fight each other. We destroy ourselves. We have these chaotic, apocalyptic periods of murderous craziness.
“Octavia Butler.” AZQuotes.com. Wind and Fly LTD, 2023. 02 March 2023. https://www.azquotes.com/quote/998876