In 2030, all phosphate reserves used for agricultural fertilization in the world are running out. The phosphate crisis is worse than the oil crises of the 20th century. Iraq and Algeria, large players in the phosphate market, drastically reduce their mining in an attempt to control prices. The world is on the verge of famine. Enter Morocco, which has the largest phosphorus deposits. This is how the African country becomes one of the richest countries in the world.
The capital of Morocco, ancient Rabat, becomes one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. More than a million technological experts from old Europe move here. They live and work in arcology towers where they grow much of their own food along south-facing gardens.
The Moroccan government, Elon Musk, and large investment companies from Moscow have created a consortium — “Musk-Muscovy” — that focuses on searching for new deposits of phosphate and other rare materials on the bottom of the ocean. The first underwater town, Jacques-Yves, is built in 2040. It is named after Jacques-Yves Cousteau — the first human to live for an extended period underwater. Jacques-Yves’ first settlers are adventurers: deep-water miners, scientists, and engineers. 476 new Atlanteans believe that they will save humankind from starvation.
First attempts at ocean mining show that it will have certain ecological risks and will be quite costly. An overview of potential threats makes scientists limit any operations to only those areas currently being mined. This means humanity must look for new sources of phosphate. The next possible sources attracting attention are asteroids. First expeditions confirm that mineral deposits there exceed all expectations. Promising asteroids can be moved into orbits that provide both accessibility and stability.
Robots have been harvesting water from asteroids for some years, but for other elements a human presence will be needed. Construction of the first space base, Odyssey, is completed in 2049. It is located below the surface of a phosphorus-rich asteroid, which helps it avoid temperature drops and magnetic storms. Astronaut-geologists work there in rotations. Soon, asteroids are providing not only water, and then gold, silver, platinum, and rare-earth elements, but also the phosphates giving new hope to billions.
On Earth Day 2050, April 22, the UN General Assembly adopts resolution Z/RES/22/2050, stating that all damaging geological development of the Earth, such as mining and pollution-producing refining should cease within the next decade. As space resources become plentiful, the mining of planetary minerals should decrease, and profits from space deposits should be used to restore and preserve the ecological balance of the planet, turning it into a beautiful blooming garden.