In 2999 the Earth is slowly beginning to recover from the damage wreaked in the early part of the millenium. Large swathes of cities – most streets, markets and other areas that would once have been in the open air, are now covered to avoid harmful rays from the sun, since there is little in the way of an ozone layer, and town planners are forced to build down, rather than up, with surface level glass ‘windows’ miles across allowing plenty of light into the new underground settlements. It’s a temporary measure, imposed by the global government, which has banned any ‘outside’ building until the environment has finished recovering. The mission to find outside intelligent life has been successful, and thus, perhaps inevitably, there is a small colony of really hot female aliens living on Earth, while manned missions regularly bring back cultural and scientific artifacts from other galaxies to study.
Food and resource wars have largely died out, as gigantic, ugly but useful desalination plants, unmanned farms and solar panels now take care of people’s basic needs, leading to a healthy but restless populace, who as a result have plenty of time to indulge in culture and the arts, for instance strapping on a protective suit, taking a camera and wondering around the ruins of the 20th, 21st and 22nd centuries – centuries that are now lauded for their unusual, quaint approach to architecture, culture and society.