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Friday, August 8, 2008

Today in Future History: August 8, 2693

This article comes from the August 8, 2693 edition of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and was translated into twentieth-century English by Robert Iverson.

Spilled Seed
"Rosetta Stone" Grain Cache Discovery May Cause Ecological Disaster, Minister Warns

Bab Al-Hamdu, Scandinavia -- August 08, 2693 -- Far from being a boon to paleobotonists and archeolinguists, the recent discovery of an ancient grain cache on this remote northern island may cause the destruction of plant species, decreases in native wildlife, and even widespread famine among humans, a top Scandinavian minister told reporters today.

"It is as if the rebels in the time of the Annexation left a bomb to detonate at our feet," said Muhammad Al-Waziri, Scandinavian Minister of the Environment. "These grains produce much more gluten and other compounds and thus are less digestible for modern people. They also grow exceedingly rapidly in cool, carbon-rich climates, and are not designed to self-restrict."

"This is biological warfare that the infidels deferred to our century," he added.

The seed cache was discovered in March by two Special Officers of the Ministry of Species Management, Ingmar Al-Muhaine and Bjorn Al-Ghamdi, while they catalogued the flora and fauna of the mountains of Bab Al-Hamdu in the Scandinavian archipelago of New Dhabi, the northermost territory of the Caliphate. The men found a large man-made cave filled with packets that contained a wide variety of different seed types.

The packets were labeled in many different languages, often showing the same message in different languages, including Middle Arabic, English, and Russian. Linguists hailed the find as a modern "Rosetta Stone" because it helped them decode languages that had been believed to be lost, including a dialect of Norwegian, which was thought to have been eradicated when the European Caliphate annexed the Scandinavian Provinces in 2239. Al-Ghamdi said in an after-action report that the seed package labels dated the creation of the cache to no earlier than 2005.

Minister Al-Waziri, however, sees a dark side in the activities that followed the discovery, and has raised the question of punishing the local inhabitants.

"This area is not fully Muslim," he said at a press conference on channel Lam-Meem. "The local population has lived for five hundred years through payment of the jizya, but has not converted. We believe that their hard living and lack of morals caused some of them to steal the seeds and release them into the wild."

The New Dhabi archipelago and its largest island, called "Cold Shores" and "Jagged Mountains" at the time of the cache's creation, has long been a penal colony for infidels. Although weather patterns make it less difficult of an environment than locations at similar latitudes (up to 81 degrees north), its average temperature is 12 degrees Centigrade in the summer and -7 degrees during the winter, and from October 26 through February 15 the sun never rises above the horizon. Its main industry is nuclear power generation, and only a small population (3,500 people), mostly ethnic Scandinavians and Russians, remains on the archipelago to work the plants. Since they are fully dependent on European sources for food, which has been withheld during rebellious periods in their history, Al-Waziri believes that the inhabitants may have stolen the grains to plant clandestine crops.

"They did not grasp the scope of what they were doing," he said. "These grains are starting to grow beyond Bab Al-Hamdu, throughout the archipelago, which leads us to believe that some grains might have been spread by birds. If that's the case, they may have already reached the mainland."

Analysis shows that most of the seeds growing in the wild are primitive stocks that have not been properly engineered. Their ability to thrive in cooler temperatures enables them to grow during the extensive Midnight Sun period. They not only grow well in high-CO2 environments, but even seem to consume carbon rather than sequester it.

Al-Waziri fears that their growth rate will overwhelm modern grains in short order. "If that does not happen, in'sh'allah, we will averted a disaster," he said. "But I am afraid because the grains do not appear to have been engineered with limited lifespans or generations. It is even possible that they were collected before such engineering was possible. I fear that they will eradicate our standard stocks of grains and other plants. Our people are not capable of digesting the grains that these plants produce."

"I call on the Scandinavian Prime Minister to investigate fully and impose the appropriate punishment for stealing on the guilty residents of Bab Al-Hamdu," he said. "And if they have caused an ecological catastrophe, they should be prosecuted for murder."

For the previous Future History post, click here.

Photo (from 2002, by the way) courtesy of Michael Haferkamp and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. For details, visit the photo's documentation page.

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