Tag Archives: Global Climate Change

Dear Future Time-Traveler

If you are reading this it is probably the year 2416, give or take, you are undoubtedly one of the few technologists remaining alive in the last enclave of a largely uninhabitable future Earth decimated by the ravages of corporate planetary exploitation resulting in resource wars fueled by religious extremism. Your search algorithm undoubtedly pulled this ancient blog article off of molecular storage because you have just completed a prototype time-travel machine, you have only enough energy left on the planet to send one person back one time, and you are researching what a single lone agent could do to avert your catastrophic timeline.

ReaganHere is what you must do. It is your best chance for survival. You have to stop Ronald Reagan.

I know that time travel theory requires that you make only the most subtle possible alteration at a key intersection in the timelines, so just killing Reagan is ill-advised. Besides being ethically unacceptable, even to save the planet and billions of future lives, his death could result in wildly unpredictable repercussions. Therefore, you must send your agent back to April 22nd, 1980 just two days before the fateful Operation Eagle Claw failed famously to rescue American hostages held in Iran. Your agent must gain access to Col. Charles A. Beckwith and convince him to inspect the helicopter rotors and hydraulics and avoid flying though regions with sandy particulates.

If your agent can assure that these minor problems are avoided, he or she can thwart Reagan’s alleged conspiracy with Iran to hold the hostages until after the election in order to discredit Jimmy Carter. In any event, this will likely prevent Reagan from gaining the White House, which will keep the solar panels on the roof and ensure that the nascent enculturation of Carter’s responsible, science-based energy and social policies are not aborted by Reagan.

By thwarting the Reagan Presidency, we avoid the critically pivotal fork when we chose self-interest over social good; unrestrained consumerism over sustainability; religious extremism over humanist ethics; voodoo trickle-down economics over sound economic policies; superstition over science; beliefs over facts; hatred for the government over pride in government; rabid partisanism over political cooperation; and unrestrained militarism over a thriving peace-time economy.

If Carter had retained the Presidency, there would have been a chance at least that science and fact-based thinking would have prevailed; that the religious community would have followed his humble example of restraint and separation from government affairs; that rampant consumerism and self-interest would not have completely corrupted corporate leaders into elevating next-quarter’s profits and personal bonuses above all social considerations; that subsequent generations of government leaders would not be hell-bent to destroy government and the people that support them would not be convinced that government is their enemy. In the alternate timeline, John McCain would never have considered nominating Sarah Palin and Donald Trump would never have become the orange-haired Frankenstein’s Monster of our own creation that he is. The existential threat of Global Climate Change and all of its resultant horrors would have been managed responsibly with a long-term and forward-looking sense of responsibility for the planet and for future generations.

So, future time-traveler, this is your only hope, our final hope. You must ensure that Operation Eagle Claw does not fail. If you succeed in that mission, this whole tragically cascading timeline will never have occurred. Hopefully moments after I click Publish on this blog article, my timeline will shift because you will have read it in the future and sent your agent back in time and he or she has succeeded in averting the failure of Operation Eagle Claw which has prevented the Reagan Presidency and the ascendency of the crazy religious anti-government Right. Your future world and mine will transform into a sane, rational, humane planet, unpolluted and unthreatened by climate change, with an America that is truly the light of the world rather than the single greatest threat to its survival.

If we fail to rise to our challenge of building a sane and sustainable planet, you future time-traveler are our last hope!


Liberal Moderation

ModerationAll things in moderation” is a pretty sound truism. It is true for most things, but there are exceptions. Lead is never good to ingest even in moderation. Likewise, activism is not usually very effective and can even be harmful when taken in moderation.

Imagine you were an abolitionist living in the 1760’s. Would you demand a complete end to slavery or would you politely request limits on slave whippings?

Or how about if you were a feminist in the 1860’s? Would you demand equal rights or would you have request (demurely) that women be allowed to smoke in public?

How about if you were a civil rights activist in the 1960’s? Would you demand nothing less than equal rights or would you go out of your way to show how nonthreatening you are by simply asking to sit a few rows further up in the bus if all seats further back are taken?

This was the very question that troubled Martin Luther King in 1963. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King pushed back against his well-meaning supporters and their strident calls for moderation. He correctly assessed that these friends were a bigger hindrance to the achievement of equal rights than were his opponents. The modest calls of his so-called allies undermined his own demands by making them seem unreasonable and even radical in comparison.

I feel his same frustration. In all the causes I care about, I feel thwarted by fellow “activists” who demand only minor incremental improvements with negligible benefits. Often doing a little bit is worse than doing nothing at all. It often gives the impression we’ve already “fixed” that issue, making it even harder to come back later for real effective change.

That was certainly true for Healthcare. Failing to demand national healthcare and accepting at least a public option was a tactical mistake of President Obama from the beginning. Now we are stuck with a private for-profit “solution” that addresses none of the systemic private-market abuses of our healthcare system.

JoyBuzzer.pngIn fact, President Obama took years to figure out that his moderate reasonable approach in all areas were doomed to fail. Over and over he reached out across the aisle with modest requests of Jokers in Congress, only to accomplish less than nothing. It took him what, 5 years of getting joy-buzzed to finally understand that moderation did not make his opponents any more reasonable or receptive.

Bargaining isn’t a new or complicated skill. In bazaars all across the continents merchants show us how to do it. You demand 10 times what that trinket is worth and finally settle for “only” 5 times its actual value. Only a fool starts out with its actual value and hopes to get anything close to it.

Yet far too many activists fail to apply these simple bargaining rules. In a vain hope of looking reasonable, they ask for next to nothing and if they are unfortunate enough to get it, it becomes extremely difficult to come back for more. The other party always wins when they give away next to nothing. Yet we see these moderate activists in every important area diligently undermining the “extreme militant activists” who might without their “help” bring about real change.

Healthcare: What we asked for and got was a “reasonable” giveaway to the private healthcare sector. What we should demand in the next round is nationalized healthcare. We may be willing to settle for a quality low cost public option.

Gun Control: What moderates call for are “sensible” expanded background checks and mental health services. What we should demand is a near total crippling of the gun industry and close security monitoring of those who own certain guns. We might settle for reestablishing the right to sue gun manufacturers and dramatically increased gun controls and insurance requirements.

Climate Change: What moderates call for are “realistic” industry-friendly systems like carbon trading. What we actually have to achieve in order to save our planet is a near total shutdown of carbon-based fuels and greatly expanded emission limits. Our planet simply does not have the time for moderation on this.

Campaign Financing: What moderates call for are modest reforms that do nothing except create yet more loopholes and workarounds. What we should demand is a complete prohibition from politicians receiving any outside money or working in the private sector for 10 years after leaving office rather receiving a generous government pension. We might settle for public campaign financing.

Atheism: “Non Angry” atheists call for mutual respect and a live-and-let-live attitude toward religion. What we should demand is that magical thinking, like racist or homophobic thinking, not be taken seriously in any aspect of civil society. What we might settle for would be a far stricter enforcement of the separation of church and state including an elimination of all religious carve outs and tax benefits.

War Funding: Our “pragmatic” moderates are thrilled if we can just limit the amount of annual increase in the Pentagon budget. What we should call for is a 90% reduction of our military budget and a retuning of our military industrial complex. Perhaps we might settle for only a 50% reduction.

Abortion: Supposedly hardcore Choice advocates feel lucky if they can mange to push back on just a few of the State actions to restrict abortion. We should call for Federal funding of abortion services and a requirement that all institutions receiving Federal funds provide abortion services. We might settle for much stronger Federal protections of abortion services that prohibit any State legislation that intentionally or unintentionally inhibits abortion services.

Income Disparity: Moderates beg for a slightly higher minimum wage. What we should demand is a steeply graduated progressive tax up to 90% with a maximum income cap based on some multiple of a guaranteed minimum income. We could possibly negotiate on the threshold levels.

Presidents: Moderate liberals feel lucky if they can elect a President that is only slightly to the Left of their Republican opponent, even if that takes us much farther to the Right than before. They should support Bernie Sanders and maybe settle for Hillary Clinton. But they should not vote for her out of fear. The timidity and fear of our liberal moderates ensures we keep losing ground and that is why our nation has drifted steadily Right for nearly 40 years.

In the end, moderation in activism does more harm than good. Moderation does not ever sway our opponents or make the battle any easier. The effort to achieve ANY compromise is not significantly lessened if the demands are modest. Rather it is often easier to get ones opponent to accept a significant compromise if far below the demands. And in the end the ground gained through a small compromise of modest demands is far less than the ground gained by a large compromise on grander demands. Further, you often only get one compromise in a decade or more so incremental movement is often a delusion, or at least far too slow for the people or the planet involved.

A bolder and smarter enemy will give a bit of inconsequential ground to keep their key institutions safe. They will give a bit of ground to gain a bunch of ground elsewhere. That is all the Conservatives give us in response to our modest demands. Conservatives are bold and smart and they know how to demand and bargain and play the long game.

But like President Obama, liberal moderates have no clue. They are neither bold nor smart and they generally lose the long game on every front by moderating each other with continual calls for moderation.


Our Secular Pope

Well it’s official. Hell has frozen over. Even as a devout secularist, atheist, and humanist I now feel that even I have a Pope. His name is Francis.

I have always had respect for the Dali Lama whom I once had the privilege of meeting. Many years ago the Dali Lama told Carl Sagan that if a tenant of Buddhism were to be disproven by science, then “Tibetan Buddhism would have to change.” This was a refreshingly rational acknowledgment from a major religious leader that science must trump belief. Of course he was still stubbornly irrational in maintaining an implausible, untestable, and wholly unscientific belief in reincarnation, but it was an encouraging concession nonetheless.

I also recognize that Pope Pius XII made a similar acknowledgment in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis. In it he acknowledged the scientific fact of polygenism and went on, in deference to science, to specifically abandon the disprovable Adam and Eve story of human origins. He also expressed openness to the legitimacy of the relatively early evolutionary science of the 1950’s. Of course he still held that God existed and endowed humans with a divine “soul.” Like the Dali Lama, he conceded to science on the disprovable parts while still falling back upon the un-disprovable beliefs as faith.

But I’ve never been an unqualified fan of a religious leader until now. Through his recent encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (found here), Pope Francis threaded essentially the same needle as these previous religious leaders. He acknowledged the irrefutability of established climate science while still clinging to his belief in god and souls. Like Pope Pius and the Dali Lama, he is rational enough to understand that religion is better served by deferring to science on matters of fact and that it is ultimately self-defeating both for the Church and for mankind to deny established science. Like those others he is also sophisticated enough to understand that the fundamental tenants of his faith can never be specifically disproven by science and that is enough for most believers. But unlike those others, he has gone far, far beyond merely acceding to science to embracing it in an active fashion.

Even given the widespread consensus on global climate change, Pope Francis was nevertheless frank and courageous in Laudato Si’. It takes courage for any leader to acknowledge the science of global climate change, to disavow the environmentally irresponsible worldviews held by many Christians today, and to call for deep changes to the status quo. This is a courage that many of our secular leaders still sadly lack. The Pope acknowledged that man is responsible for protecting the Earth, that we are responsible for catastrophic global climate change, that climate change endangers our very survival, and that it is our responsibility to fix it.

Following are some important points that I pulled from my reading of his encyclical:

  • The Pope challenged us to “protect our common home,” entrusted to us by God.
  • He discussed many real threats to the planet including “pollution, waste and a throwaway culture,”  “the issue of water,” and “loss of biodiversity.”
  • He pointed out that the climate is a “common good” that is “a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life.”
  • He acknowledged that a “very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”
  • He acknowledged that all these things result in “global inequality” and a “decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society.”
  • He acknowledged “the human roots of the ecological crisis.”
  • He pointed out that our responses to these challenges so far have been “weak.”
  • He challenged people who defend the status quo by rejecting “those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.”
  • He acknowledged the dangers of “misguided anthropocentrism” that places the gratification of mankind above all other considerations.
  • He acknowledged the principle of the “common good” and called for “justice between the generations” which imposes a responsibility to pass along a habitable planet to future generations.
  • He issued many calls for “dialog” and immediate action.
  • He held that the role of religion is to “guide” science.

Although these may all seem like obvious points to some, it is critically important that the Pope made them. Many religious people still do not accept the 1950 encyclical regarding evolution and they are not likely to accept this encyclical on climate change, or our role in creating a sustainable planet, let alone our responsibility to respond to the social and ecological challenges we face.  It is amazing to see the Pope and the Catholic Church taking such a strong leadership role for social justice and environmental sanity.

But it is important to also look at what the Pope did not say. Most noticeably, while he called for action by others, he did not so far lead by example with tangible actions within his power to initiate. I hope these kinds of actions are to come.

  • He did not call for divestment from the fossil fuel industry and other environmentally irresponsible industries nor did he promise to do so with the reported $8B Vatican portfolio.
  • He did not call for the extremely large worldwide Church infrastructure to “go green” and lower their very substantial carbon footprint.
  • He did not specifically instruct his clergy to take tangible local action to promote a culture that helps to achieve the goals he outlines so passionately.

Less obviously but more notably, Pope Francis did not call for prayer as a solution to our environmental crisis. In fact, he only used the word “prayer” a few times in the entire encyclical and never in the context of a call to action. Instead he used the words “science” and “scientific” dozens of times in the context of providing real solutions.

Evidently even though the Pope supposedly believes in an active, caring, and omnipotent god, even he is not silly enough to rely upon the power of prayer when the outcome really matters.

PopeFrancisI close with sincere thanks to Pope Francis. He is courageously using his bully pulpit in a responsible way that most secular leaders including President Obama have not. His strong statements regarding climate change in particular and social justice generally are desperately needed. I particularly appreciate his continuing calling out of “people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons” as the immoral hypocrites that they are (see here).

Thanks Francis. You go Pope! Keep it up!

The Dandelion Project


A Fond Farewell to the Planet

Copyright © 2006 by Tyson Gill

Adrian made one final inventory, carefully confirming each item against the checklist provided. He inserted the payment form into the pre-addressed mailer last, with no trace of hesitation about having spent an entire year of graphic editing work to cover the submission fee. Finally satisfied that nothing had been overlooked, he sealed the package with the reverence of a precious time capsule. Now that it was finally ready to mail, he could hardly bring himself to part with it.

“The postman is coming,” his golden retriever alerted him with a familiar woof.

Securing the package in his lap, Adrian swung his wheelchair around and rolled silently toward the door, tapping the over-sized button open it. A gust of hot, wet air swept in through the doorway, laying siege to the air-conditioners defending the widely spaced entryway.

Against the spectacular backdrop of an angry, storm-crazed sky, the nonchalant approach of the postman might have seemed incongruous were it not an everyday occurrence. The approaching postman adjusted his balance adroitly as the frenetic wind buffeted him from every angle. All in all, it was relatively pleasant weather.

Adrian always wished he could be a postman too, strolling from house to house, warmed and cooled within one of those signature post-office blue all-weather suits. He had read that they were made of high-tech Nanobiotic™ fibers that adjusted automatically to almost any weather condition. But it could never be. The nature of his injury precluded ever being able to even use prosthetics.

“Lovely weather we’re having today eh Adrian?” Mailman Max called when he got close enough to be heard over the wind without shouting. It was Max’s usual greeting. Adrian typically came out to greet him to break up his otherwise humdrum days. In fact he ordered supplies in separate shipments to ensure that daily bit of human contact.

“It’s beautiful,” Adrian confirmed, grinning, as he rolled forward to the outermost fringe of the household climate systems protection.

Max halted, a gust of rain pelting him from out of nowhere, as he regarded the package proudly resting in the lap of the crippled boy.

“That it?” he asked simply, following up with an easy smile.

“This is it,” Adrian announced proudly, holding out the package like a holy offering.

“Right,” said Max. “I’ll send it right off then.”

Max exchanged the precious mailer for a bundle junk mail.

“Don’t worry,“ Max assured the boy as he patted the parcel. “I’ll see to this one personally.”

“Thanks. Maybe I’ll run around some day still,” Adrian whispered, like making an almost sinful admission of improbable hope.

“Maybe you will at that,” Max agreed with a wink.

Max pulled his mail truck up to the massive door of the post office and pressed his entrance card up against the rain-pelted window. He hoped that the card reader would cooperate today because he didn’t want to open the window. The weather had suddenly turned more nasty than usual and he was still suffering from the alternating gusts of frigid and burning air that overwhelmed his all-weather suit before he finally found refuge in his vehicle. People imagined that mail deliverers were always comfortable in their suits, but more often than not the internal regulators just couldn’t respond to the weather fast enough to ever be just right.

After the fourth swipe, the door finally lifted open and Max pulled forward into the garage with relief. The lumbering metal started to lower back down even before his mail truck cleared the entrance. He hopped down from the driver’s compartment, unzipping his suit as he looked around.

“Hey Max-eee!” a familiar voice called his way. “How the fuck you doing bro?”

“Hey Vince,” Max didn’t need to look to know the source of the familiar greeting. “I’m good.”

Vince had already reached the rear of the delivery truck. It was his job to unload the outgoing mail and transfer it to the automated sorter.

“Ouch!” Vince cried out like a cuss as his hand recoiled from the door latch.

“Ya, it’s pissing down hot rain out there,” Max confirmed needlessly.

“Fucking hot rain is the worst,” Vince complained. Whatever the weather was doing at any given moment was by definition the worst to Vince.

Max walked over and looked on as Vince heaved the back open and rolled the mail cart out.

“Saying on the radio that Florida lost another 500 square miles last month,” Max told him by way of small talk.

“Fuck,” Vince commented, pausing to shake his head. “Where is all the fucking water coming from? The fucking north pole is gone but we still ain’t got none to flush a crap.”

“Still lots of ice left in the Antarctic,” Max remarked.

“And we’re spending half the fucking national budget on those fucking see-oh two reduction plants,” Vince spat. “Thought they were supposed to clean up this fucking shit.”

“They are, but it takes time,” Max was used to having the same conversation every day.

“Fuck that,” Vince remarked as he pulled the mail cart toward the clanking sorter. “I don’t think they are doing crap. I think it’s all a croc of shit to keep us from realizing the fucking end of the world is already here.”

“Ya, you’re probably right,” Max always found it easier to just agree with Vince.

“Fucking right I’m fucking right,” Vince agreed wholeheartedly.

Suddenly, Max remembered something and darted back to the truck cab. He snatched a package off the passenger seat and ran to catch back up with Vince.

“Hey V, can you route this one personally? It’s kind of special and I don’t want that old crapper sending it off to Chinese-controlled Russia or something,” Max said, handing him Adrian’s package.

“You got it Max-eee,” Vince assured him, receiving the hand off like a football. “I’ll treat it like my own little baby.”

Somehow that didn’t reassure Max very much.

Sayonara Cheng reached for another package from atop the heaping mail container next to her desk. It had already been a long day and it was not getting any shorter. She had started working at The Dandelion Project as a temp over eight months earlier. Now they employed over 8,000 people doing the same job as her at different processing locations around the world.

It was a good temp job for as long it lasted. Open enrollment was supposed to end in three more months but she heard it would take another six to sort through the backlog. Probably more if submissions kept increasing as quickly as they had been.

Twenty-two million was the magic number. They needed at least that many paying donors to finance the project. They had reached that mark last month and were already at 36.5 million last she heard. Frenzied plans were underway to scale up the whole operation.

Their unlikely success thrust The Dandelion Project into the world spotlight. It graduated overnight from a wacky Internet scheme to a massive and controversial international joint venture. The protesters and picketers didn’t bother her much. Their office didn’t see many violent demonstrations. Sayonara just kept her head down, quietly and unobtrusively processing submission packages.

She opened the next kit, scattering the contents across her desk at the foot of her diet cola. She ignored the ancillary materials and picked out the data stick, deftly inserting it into a worn plug on her terminal.

Sayonara clicked the Import option from the custom application menu. After a momentary hourglass came and went, a graphic popped up on the screen. It was a cute young man, trying to appear as if he wasn’t imprisoned by the wheelchair in which he was obviously confined. His hand waved tentatively in front of a shy smile that made her feel as if he could see her there looking at his video portrait. The caption under the picture read “Adrian Davis, Age 24.” It was followed by a long personal data summary in a scrolling window.

She carefully opened the sample tube and placed it into the DNA Scanner. She absent-mindedly hit Scan Now on a popup menu and the device began to whir and hum softly, sending spectroscopic data to the central supercomputer for analysis. Sayonara used the time, as was her routine, to sip cola and review the notarized legal wavers and agreements.

A discouraging beep made her look up to see the garish  message flashing in red on the screen. That was fast, she thought, oddly disappointed. She had rejected thousands of applications without a second thought so it came as a surprise to her to feel reluctant to have to reject this particular applicant in accordance with her very specific selection protocols.

As she moused-over to select the Reject option, Adrian looked up at her from his wheelchair with renewed hope and longing. Sayonara peered deep into his pixilated eyes and felt as if they exposed his very soul to her. Her finger hesitated, hovering millimeters above the mouse button. She sensed a young man who wanted desperately to get up out of his rolling prison and play among the stars. How could she deny him that chance?

On an impulse, she clicked Accept, Override, and Confirm in rapid succession. She really hoped the auditors wouldn’t catch her on this one but didn’t much care.

“Bon voyage,” she told his image in a conspiratorial whisper.

It was obvious to Edwin Daniels long ago as a student at Cal Tech that global warming had exceeded the critical cascade threshold. No effort, no matter how extraordinary, could prevent atmospheric collapse. The extinction of mankind was imminent and inevitable.

That certainty had caused him to ponder the question; to what worthy cause can Man dedicate itself to even as Death is swinging his scythe? Then it came to him. He envisioned a great cosmic dandelion, releasing its seeds on solar winds far out into the great expanse of space.

He enlisted specialists with far more talent than he to join him in his mad project. His unprecedented plan required impossible advances in materials science, genetics, psychology, robotics, nanocircuitry, and artificial intelligence. If successful, mankind would perish in a glorious supernova of new knowledge and progress.

By force of raw passion and charisma, he organized a brotherhood of scientists who dedicated whatever free time they could manage to the project. They kept a low profile for two decades, working on the fundamental technical challenges in obscurity.

Once his team became relatively optimistic that the key obstacles could be overcome, they launched The Dandelion Project on the World Wide Web to fund development. They had never dreamt that it would capture the imagination and passion of the entire globe as it did. Though they never publicly admitted that this was a doomsday project, people around the world sent in their money and their DNA samples. Their database now contained over 173 million DNA fingerprints.

The Dandelion Project had taken in more money more quickly than any business in history. With it, they spent the next 18 years prototyping, developing, and testing the impossible.

Now, 37 years after the crazy dream first took seed, the project was coming to life without any further need of him. He could finally just relax and watch it unfold.

The daily launches continued despite the mass protests. Now that the deployment had actually begun, many religious leaders toned down their vehement rhetoric. The Chinese government finally gave the project their official sanction, lending the support of the largest and most influential country on Earth. Public relations continued to cite audits by independent auditing firms to quash conspiracy speculations that the DNA lottery was rigged.

Amidst the storms of nature and controversies of Man raging across the globe, the pods continued to launch night and day from locations across the United States, throughout China and its Russian territories, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India, and others. Every country was represented in the precious payload.

Edwin watched the television monitors replaying the time-lapse images taken from the international space station and the Moon base. There lay the solitary Earth, dying amidst the unsympathetic darkness of space, flinging thousands of pods out into the eternal blackness. It looked like a great cosmic dandelion, its metal composite seed pods brimming with databases of human DNA, flying out in all directions, going for broke on the longest of odds.

It was an unprecedented event in human history. The supernova of mankind as it died. All of humanity watched and marveled, strangely contented and satisfied as if collectively sharing one last fireworks finale.

“To be truthful, the odds are too infinitesimal to bother calculating. One in a thousand pods might survive millions of years of random collisions with space particulates to find a candidate planet. One in a hundred of those might find conditions compatible with human life. One in ten of those might succeed in re-synthesizing a random DNA record and growing a human clone. One in a score of those clones might survive and grow to into a functional human being. But the odds don’t matter. We are humans and all that matters is that we try. It is the only way that we frail humans can ever explore the universe first hand.”

Adrian looked up from the monitor. He had been watching an interview recorded back on Earth in some incomprehensible time past.

Mother, his robotic parent, stood protectively nearby. Nine years earlier, she had booted up and begun to execute her programming. She had reconfigured the pod into a shelter, acquired raw materials, and replicated a randomly selected sequence from the DNA database. Since then she had protected the child and tutored him in all the age-appropriate data available in their comprehensive Earth library.

“So that was him, Mother? That was the man who sent us here?”

Mother answered him with an exquisitely archetypical motherly voice.

“Yes Adrian that was Edwin Daniels. But many tens of thousands of people worked together to send us here, to our new home. All of humanity wished you bon voyage,”

“But I am all alone,” Adrian said to her. “What good is one person?”

Mother reproduced a tender smile, engaging all the micro-transducers of her synthetic face.

“One human isn’t much good at all,” she told him, squatting down to gaze into his eyes. “But one day soon you will choose another and we will raise her together.”

The boy was about to follow up with another question but Mother gave him a gentle shove.

“Go play now in the grass,” she urged him. “Bring some berries for a snack later.”

Adrian, naked in the warm, gentle air, jumped up and smiled, running off into the field. Animals, vaguely resembling little deer, bounded in around him to join in the romp.

In the pod, Mother set about cooking and cleaning as directed by her AI adaptive processor. On their little table, one old-fashioned picture rested prominently within a homemade frame. It was the still-picture of a young man that looked just like Adrian only older, sitting in a wheelchair and waving to them with wistful contentedness.