In the first few decades after that first Earth Day in 1970, there were some battles won – cleaner air and water, CDCs were banned, lands were protected – but the pressures and challenges of population growth were too great. The Earth warmed, the seas rose, water became scarce.
Midway through this hundred year span, though, things started to change. Many factors seemed to come together almost simultaneously. By 2020, everyone on the planet was connected. Universal and instantaneous translation software created a virtual globe without borders. Medical technology gave us thirty more years of healthy living. It seemed completely reasonable when President Colbert signed the order raising the retirement age to 85 in 2028.
Perhaps it was those extra years that gave us a greater appreciation for the need to care for our planet. We selected leaders who sought long-term solutions and we started to work together. We built new homes away from rising seas, we switched to renewable energies, we learned to grow our food cleanly, we protected our lands and watersheds and we continue to work on cleaning up what remains.
A hundred years have passed since that first glimmering of awareness and we did not fail. It got worse before it got better and we still have a way to go, but our species no longer threatens our own existence.