“Ladies and gentlemen, firstly, please accept my thanks for this opportunity to address you this morning, and for having entrusted me with this analysis of the security considerations inherent to a permanent settlement on this continent.

“There are health, safety and logistical issues unique to daily life here, with all of which you’ll be far more familiar than I. One particular issue, less obvious, less visibly apparent, may be much more critical to the long-term security of these colonies. I refer specifically to water.

“Whether or not we agree on the reasons for extreme climate change, we cannot deny that it is occurring. Every year brings record high temperatures and record low precipitation levels, and worldwide desertification is not just increasing, but accelerating.

“In short, water suitable for consumption and agriculture is dwindling. And here sit these colonies, atop seventy percent of the earth’s remaining fresh water supply. The world’s major powers will be coming for it, and it would be naïve to think that violent conflict won’t occur.

“Resource grabbing has always been the principal reason for conflict, and even in our supposedly more-enlightened age it is a daily reality. And if you think our current wars for oil have been savage, wait until we’re grasping at a commodity without which life cannot exist.

“The neutral and non-political orientation of these colonies will not protect them. Most of the major economic and military powers already assert some claim to part or all of this continent. The spurious bases for these claims are irrelevant; whole countries have been sacked over claims with even less merit. And frequently, humanitarian and other neutral entities are the first to suffer the atrocities of war.

“The threats posed by individual countries differ only by degree and rationalization. The oligarchy of the Russian Federation would act largely for the sake of prestige, empire-building and asserting dominance. The People’s Republic of China, naturally, can be counted upon to make a play for any resources to support the rapid economic expansion of the past several decades. But the runaway greatest danger comes from the United States.

“Power in the U.S. is maintained by preserving its people’s standard of living at all costs. While the rest of the world thirsts, Americans must play in water parks. Asking them to do otherwise is politically untenable. Regardless whether the pretext is to promote peace, democracy or the responsible management of these resources, the result will be a takeover, and the displacement of these people.

“I have no concrete plan yet to prevent this situation, but I can offer one element that I feel sure must be a part thereof. The principal asset of this community is the weight of favorable public opinion. That may be enough to support the establishment of these colonies as a single political entity — a country, if you will, the better to accuse of aggression any country undertaking an annexation of these territories.

“I remain committed to the success of these people and their new home, and I stand ready to advise the people as they go forward with whatever course they may direct. Thank you once again for your attention and consideration.”

McGee exhaled, and there was a moment of silence. Then, the Assembly exploded into uproar.


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