Earth is overcrowded and a scientist is tasked with coming up with a solution. From James Mascia’s Other Worlds writing prompts.
“We are all depending on you, Derrick. We have about five years left as far as sustainability goes, and then it all goes to hell. So, with that in mind, good luck. You will have access to the latest equipment, the best we can find as far as assistants and techs and anything you feel you might need that isn’t all ready here.” Mr. Gibson walked briskly through the lab gesturing toward the tables and computers in pristine condition along the walls.
Techs walked by in white coats with clip boards in their arms hurrying about. A large screen had numbers tabulating changing by the minute. This was the most space Derrick had seen in years. It almost seemed excessive, this room to maneuver. The cleanliness of it was startling.
Something tended to happen with over crowding, people started to care less. About their environment, each other, things like cleanliness, like taking care or notice of others, of being human beings tend to disappear.
Survival of the fittest comes to mind. Yes, it all becomes a large Darwinian experiment. Which rat will churn the butter and which will drown in it. Only, Derrick couldn’t recall what real butter tasted like. There wasn’t room for actual cows anymore. They require too much grain, too much land, too many resources. Starving kids were a common sight now, not just in far off places, but right here in Washington. Their eyes begged him, find a way, save us, we are the future. The future of what, though? A garbage heap?
Many of the upper class had been heavily investing in space travel in the hopes of leaving this dirty tattered Earth behind for other places to plunder. The poor and less fortunate were stuck here, with what is left of this world, too many hungry mouths like baby birds opening wide shrieking for food.
He had to brush past the homeless clawing at his clothes to get in the building, their eyes hungry pleading, find a way, find a way, saying in their own way: “This is your future, you will be stuck and die down here with us…unless you can find a way…”
All the education in the world wouldn’t make him a part of the upper tier. He had been born in the wrong neighborhood, the wrong shade of brown. He was doomed to rot here with the undesirables which made him uniquely suited to solve this problem. He had everything at stake as well. He was in between the worlds of the top and the bottom, educated and financially in a fair place, but not included in the club because of his lowly birth. A go between of sorts. A last hope, so much pressure, so little time.
“Derrick? Any initial thoughts?”
“Is this whole mission just a distraction, or is it really possible? Am I part of a token solution to alleviate panic, or do you believe in this? That we can solve this?”
“To be honest, I don’t know if we have enough time left to solve this. But we have to try, right? If we don’t try, we will fail for sure.” Mr. Gibson patted him on the back, and nodded and walked out in his dark grey suit. Derrick heard the door shut with a click, his fate was sealed it seems. Too many people not enough resources.
You cannot create something from nothing, how to solve this dilemma without resorting to something truly evil like mass death? Derrick sat in a chair at a long table a blank computer screen waiting for him to put in his credentials a yellow legal pad next to it with a freshly sharpened pencil on it, waiting.
“Would you like some coffee, sir?” A woman in a white coat asks him with a cup in her hand. “Coffee? I haven’t had any coffee in so long. Sure.” He looked at her a moment, saw the fear in her eyes, the fear of failure times a thousand. All these people depending on him and his team and whatever answer he came up with would undoubtedly be bad for someone.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, merely transferred from one place to another. Perhaps there is something there. If we could harness our garbage, and somehow make it into food, somehow make it sustainable. That might be food for thought. He tapped the pencil a few times on the pad, writing down “waste. this is what we have the most of. Food is what we need. How to turn waste into food, and have it fulfill nutritional needs?”