The Earth after its axis was moved. London is now at 35° North and the Equator now passes through Columbia, Mauretania, and between Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. The north polar icecap (not shown) now encroaches onto the East Siberian and West Alaskan mainland, the southern icecap is still slowly retreating, revealing the rock beneath, on the 180°meridian, and advancing out to sea along the Prime Meridian. Axial tilt was only reduced slightly, to 20°, to ensure that there are still seasons.
The Polar Adjustment
The Empire’s most ambitious engineering project to date was the adjustment of the position of the Earth’s rotational axis and axial tilt1, to give Britain and northern Europe a better climate, in 2118-55. The process was an extremely complicated feat of gravitational engineering, requiring hundreds of huge coils to selectively enhance or neutralise the Earth’s gravity, thus throwing the entire planet very slightly off balance and causing the axis to slowly shift towards its current position and alignment. Vast amounts of energy had to be transferred to the ether and recovered to prevent the crust from melting. Preliminary works included a programme of geological engineering, to relieve stresses in the major faults and prevent earthquakes, construction of gigantic breakwaters and baffles to prevent flooding and tidal waves, etc. On the whole it was extremely successful, although there were several regrettable disasters in areas whose governments refused to cooperate with the Empire, most notably earthquakes and volcanoes in areas of the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere and along the Pacific “ring of fire.” The populations of several islands and some coastal areas had to be evacuated until the work was completed.
1A proposal to expand the project by repositioning the Earth’s magnetic poles to the physical poles was rejected, on the grounds that damage to the Earth’s magnetic field might allow uncontrolled dynogen to reach the surface of the Earth.
The long-term effects met or exceeded expectations. Europe is now warmer and heavy winter wardrobes are a thing of the past. Efforts to prevent the spread of deserts towards Europe were mostly successful, with Stuberoff shields cooling large areas.
There were major benefits to the Empire’s economy; the project employed tens of thousands of engineers and scientists, and developed expertise that could be applied to space travel and civil engineering. The gravitic installations were designed from the outset for easy conversion to power stations once the project was completed; many were still in service at the beginning of the Sirian war. As the Antarctic icecap retreats, and ice clears from Greenland, many valuable mineral sources are being revealed, although some of the best remain underwater; over thousands of years glaciers have eroded the land to tens or hundreds of feet below sea level; while the resources of other planets are generally easier to mine, ores from both areas were important in rebuilding Earth’s navies and commercial fleets in the intermediate aftermath of the Sirian war.
Environmental effects were largely positive, but included the loss or reduction of several hundred species unable to adjust to the changed conditions. European swifts, albatrosses, beluga whales, and the Alaskan caribou are now extinct in the wild, though specimens survive in captivity. Disruption of ocean currents was considerable, and for several years it was feared that the Gulf Stream would “shut down” completely, but time and the construction of several additional underwater barriers slowly solved the problem. One problem that should have been anticipated was the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases to areas of central and northern Europe where they had not previously been seen, but subsequent programmes of eradication have slowly wiped out mosquitoes, locusts, and other insect species that took advantage of the new climate to move north.
Today the changed world is taken for granted, and few remember the heroic efforts that transformed it.