Humans on the planet Earth had done well for themselves for a long time. Or so they thought. By the time they realized that they were tying their own rope, the world became unrecognizable and in large part unlivable. Overpopulation had found its limit, and the population was now on an unprecedented decline. From 24 billion to 10 in a matter of months, people, some otherwise healthy people began dying from what in the end were heart attacks. Unexplained heart attacks. The population has been going down slowly ever since.
Humanity had shit all over everything.
The environment was now seen as a public good, and its protection became militaristic. There were heavily enforced bans on entering beaches and other natural environments that had previously been tourist spots. The population was declining because people simply no longer saw the value or sense there was in procreating. Some rare places had banned pregnancy altogether. Reducing the population was seen as a duty, and one that most people accepted. Still, the very few children being born were accepted as a part of society as well. These children ended up holding the same values as most adults did.
People recognized the horrors brought about by humanity. They accepted some of those horrors, and some of them they did not. There were all kinds–genetic manipulations, Human Digital Implants (HDIs), Organic Artificial Intelligence (OAIs), time travel and more. Each one had benefits and dangers. Some were strictly prohibited, like time travel, although time travel was semi-legal as long as it was done off-planet, and the traveler never returned to present day Earth.
People now protected the environment how they once used to protect oil. Part of this protection included the protection of animals, which meant animals now had many rights of people.
This was a problem for Benjameen, a true animal lover who dreamed of dragons. You might be wondering why an animal lover would see animal rights as a problem. That’s where the story begins…