The timeline is a feature in the Field Guide that details the timeline of events that lead to the eventual collapse of society.
2005: The Long Emergency
The beginning of the Long Emergency, global peak oil extraction is reached.
Oil prices begin an irrevocable rise that slowly begins to weigh on global economies and leads political leaders to increasingly place energy at the forefront of national policies.
2007: Ukraine Joins the EU
Ukraine joins the EU.
A process of pulling the strategically valuable former Soviet republics away from Russia and integrating them into the EU and NATO is begun, much to the chagrin of the Russians.
2009: Civil War and Martial Law
Global influenza pandemic; first of many subsequent H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks kills thousands, mainly in South East Asia, and causes tightened borders, and paranoia. The disease will continue to outbreak for the next 10 years.
Georgian republics, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia join the EU, against the strong protestations of the Russian Federation. NATO member states iterate their commitment to reinforce the independence of those republics, much to the satisfaction of US and EU oil companies who are pumping oil from the region.
The Sunni/Sh'ite conflict raging across the Middle East deepens as Iran and Saudi Arabia fight a proxy war against each other using ethnic and religious militants who launch bloody insurgencies in each country, terrorizing the civlian populations and causing shocking amounts of infrastructure damage. Only the presence of the U.S. military sitting between them in Iraq prevents them from going to all-out-war. World oil prices, already high, begin to surge based upon fears that any widening of the conflict could drastically reduce oil production.
2010: Digging In
Attempted coup by pro-US, CIA backed military officers in Venzuela fails and US involvement is revealed to the international community. The US retaliates with economic embargoes and surgical military action intended to cripple the economy and topple the regime. However, because of their solidarity with fellow South American countries, the country survives. Later that year the League of South American Free States is formed. Based mainly on Brazilian agriculture might and affordable Venezuelan oil, the league is much stronger than anticipated.
The first of several large scale pro-democracy, pro-liberalization movements in China are brutally crushed. Over the coming years all of the major powers come to resemble military police tactics result in massive civil unrest and domestic terrorism in all major states.
The EU builds large scale fortifications and military bases in the newly joined states of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. While officials downplay the significance of the build up, they are obviously geared towards protecting against the Russian Federation and securing access to Caspian Basin oil reserves in these countries.
2012: Massive Global Recession
The superpowers pick sides in the escalating Sunni-Sh'ite war. China and Iran sign a deal to trade arms and oil, thereby providing Shi'a forces with a nearly limitless supply of arms, including (secretly) Chinese Nuclear technology. Conversely, the Western powers arms the Saudis, and their Sunni proxies, against the Iranians and the Shi'a militias they support.
Because of the influx of high tech military weaponry, the conflict expands to include outbreaks of conventional air and land combat, as well as the use of high tech weaponry against civilians.
Massive global recession. Political developments in the Middle East, rapidly falling oil yields, repeated disease outbreaks, and environmental degradation cause inflation and a recession across the globe.
In 2nd world countries with less robust economies and larger populations, particularly China and Russia, this results in severe, violent political unrest, and large-scale anti-government insurgency.
Martial Law becomes all-but-officially permanent in these countries. In many parts of the developing world, particularly Africa, nations crumble and a new age of anarchy begins.
Massive starvation on a hitherto unseen scale occur. In other countries, many in South America, robust micro economies allow much of the population to thrive.
2013: The Middle East War Begins
Iran-Saudi war spreads across the region, erupting into direct conflict. Smaller Middle Eastern nations like Syria, Lebanon and Jordan disintegrate; anarchy ensues. Iranian and Saudi forces clash over and on the Persian Gulf, and across the lawless deserts of Eastern Iraq.
US forces in country can only retreat to their fortifications and continues to protect the oil supply.
Severe climate change ends seasonal weather predictability in many parts of the world causing intense strain on ecosystems, and massive devastation of dependent human populations as crops fail and food stocks disappear. Massive starvation, hitherto unseen in modern human history breaks out in Africa; entire populations disappear, nations crumble, wide spread anarchy ensues. The rest of the world looks on in horror.
Journalists reveal the Israel has been heavily arming and covertly aiding both sides of the Sunni-Shi'a conflict against each other. International outrage, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia is extreme, and both countries retaliate with conventional and guerrilla attacks against Israel.
Israel strike back against all of its neighbors, the final act that engulfs the entire region in bloody war.
Following the assassination of its dictator by Islamic militants, Pakistan disintegrates into chaos and tribalism. Only the capitol and certain strategic and urban areas remain under 'Government' control, mostly with US/NATO and Indian assistance. NATO fortifies bases in Afghanistan, and US troops prop up the remaining forces of the government in Pakistan.
US energy corporations sign a long term deal with Turkmenistan to exploit selected oil reserves along the Caspian Sea, and to ship it out via a new pipeline through occupied Afghanistan and Pakistan.
2014: Nuclear Dead Zones
The world is stunned as a three-way nuclear war between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran decimates all three countries. Major cities and large tracts of previously inhabited land are rendered radioactive dead zones. Only small pockets of civilization exist, with vast tracts of tribal wasteland in between.
Intermittent oil extraction continues from a few remote, well fortified oil fields, mainly those held by foreign powers in Iran, Iraq, and the Saudi desert.
Middle Eastern oil production, already low, falls dismally. The industrial economies of the world, which are floundering in a recession, still attempting transformation to post-petroleum sustainability, are thrown into full-scale depression, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 1930's.
2014: Drifting Apart
Global warming begins to cause the oceans to noticeably rise. Coastal populations in Europe, North America, and China begin semi-orderly migrations inland.
In less developed countries, flooding kills millions who cannot go anywhere else. The worst effects are felt in Bangladesh where tens of millions are drowned by flooding and unseasonable monsoons. Chinese forces attempt to restore order but run into conflict with forces from India attempting to do the same.
Both eventually withdraw and seal their borders, letting the tragedy unfold uninterrupted.
A long process of slow integration, starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992, and continuing through the adoption of a common, integrated North American currency in 2009, leads to the formation of an 'EU' style trade block in North America called NAFU, the North American Free Union that includes Canada, The United States, and parts of Mexico.
From this point on, the allegiances, and alliances of the states and provinces on the continent drift apart from the national interests that previously united them, towards more common regional interests.
2015: The Red Star Alliance is Born
Economic depression and wartime angst lead to widespread civil unrest of an intensity previously unknown in Europe and North America. Martial law, established to restore order, leads to a disintegration of democratic processes, and a disregard for civil rights.
The North American military begins hijacking foreign oil tankers leaving South American ports, setting off open hostilities between the two. Retaliations by South American intelligence agencies within the North American states serve as a pretext to justify invasion, and NAFU troops attempt to seize key assets within Venezuela and Columbia, as well as fumbling ambitious attempts to neutralize the senior members of the controlling regimes.
The League's military and intelligence forces, bolstered by modern arms of Chinese originals foil the attacks and inflict severe losses on the North American attackers.
The North American command retaliates with a small number of strategic strikes on key SA assets. A militarized zone between the two blocks, in Central America, is established and fortified.
China and India skirmish several times, as do US and Chinese troops at the borders between China and Pakistan/Afghanistan. Tensions Between China and India, drive the latter into an alliance with the US designed to show a united front against increasing Chinese aggression in the area.
Petrochemical revenues from the Caspian Basin oil beds result in Central Asian republics, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, becoming 'The New Middle East' as the become more prosperous economically and correspondingly more powerful in the world community. Some of these countries, such as Kazakhstan, use the wealth to industrialize.
A series of dictators and quasi-legitimate democratic regimes get used to playing the 21st century powers, the EU, the US, the Russian Federation, and the People's Republic of China, off each other for the intended favour of their nation and themselves.
Russia and China, as well as a few smaller states in the region, form the Red Star Alliance, a framework for joint military operations under a single command structure, as well as energy and technology sharing agreements.
2016: The Western Coalition is Formed
Most superpower states have abandoned all pretense of liberal democracy and have become military police states in all but name. Only a few geographically isolated countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Iceland are still free and livable.
An attempt to jump start the major economies, mainly by loosening trade restrictions, forgiving debt, and rewarding economic incentives, fails. The global depression deepens.
US strategic missile defence goes online, making North America invulnerable to long and medium range strategic weapons. This immediately cools any hints of aggression by the Red Star Alliance, specifically in Central Asia, as the US nuclear arsenal serves as a trump card and deterrent.
Continuing pandemics of disease sweep the globe causing casualties in the hundreds of millions. In the developed countires, plagues that had been unknown for a hundred years - Tuberculosis, Influenza, Cholera, and Typhoid, reappear in hyper virulent strains. Advances in medicine and large scale disease control allow the outbreaks to be managed and contained, but at great human cost.
The NATO member countries plus Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India form the Western Coalition, ostensibly as a bulwark against increasing Red Star Chinese power in Central Asia, but actually as a way of synergising mutual energy resources and the forces required to secure them.
Integrated military units under a common command structure answerable to the (corporate controlled) civilian governments of the Coalition nations, and flexible, modular, standardized military forces are adopted.
The entire Coalition is brought under the strategic defence shield.
2017: The Starving Masses
Surrounded by desperate, hostile populations, and extracting ever dwindling amounts of oil at rapidly increasing cost from all-but-depleted deposits, the foreign powers evacuate their remaining forces and leave the Middle East. What little population and last vestiges of civilizations that remain disintegrate into a tribal wasteland.
Despite high tech solutions and centralized management, the major powers are unable to sustain agricultural yields sufficient to support subsistence levels for their populations. Starvation begins to become commonplace in developed countries.
Economists agree that the global depression has become more or less permanent. Previous economic models that relied upon supply/demand, and industrial output and the flexibility of free markets are unable to account for energy depletion, environmental collapse, over population, and societal disintegration. Radical voices claim that there are simply not enough resources to support a recovery for the entire global population and that war is the inevitable outcome.
Under great pressure from their Russian and Chinese neighbors, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, surrender their neutrality and join the Red Star Alliance. The Western Coalition authority is stunned and cannot stop them. Red Star command begins to aggressively extract oil and ship it out of the new member countries.
The Winter of 2017 bring catastrophic weather that kills millions, and leaves many regions uninhabitable. Tropical countries experience deep freezes, and storms of hitherto unseen ferocity pound coastlines.
2020: Gearing Up for War
Russian missile defence comes online only four years after the US; Russian brings Red Star allies under its missile defence shield.
With ICBM and medium range missiles effectively useless, strategic nuclear war between the superpowers becomes obsolete. Nuclear arsenals, already small through limitation treaties, are re-tooled for tactical use.
Superpowers initiate conventional military build up in Central Asia.
2021: Switching Sides
Globe hails good news as treaty between Red Star and Western Coalition ends long inconclusive conflict along Chinese/Pakistani/Afghan border in South Asia. Leaders from both powers make rhetorical pledges to stand down from conflict and concentrate on problems at home, while simultaneously escalating arms race.
The pro-Red Star government of Turkmenistan is overthrown is a bloodless coup, and the new government stuns its Red Star allies and cedes from the Red Star Alliance. The government then awards oil extraction contracts to Western Coalition energy corporations and allows security forces into the country to protect the extraction operations.
Oil that once flowed North to Russia and West to China now flows South to Coalition ports in Pakistan, bound for the industrial heartland of the developed nations.
2023: The Coming Storm
A 'super-hurricane' so powerful that a new category of intensity must be created for it, forms in the Pacific and devastates the West coast of North America from Alaska to Portland.
The Turkmenistan oil flowing to the Western Coalition countries benefits their desperate populations.
2024: The Oil Wars
The deposed regime of Turkmenistan, in exile in Moscow, offers proof of Coalition backing of the coup that overthrew them, and appeals to the international community to restore them in the countries.
They are rebuffed despite Chinese and Russian lobbying. Red Star Troops aided by the deposed dictator of Turkmenistan are air dropped into the major cities and seize control of the key strategic assets in the country including oil fields, government infrastructure, communication networks, and the security apparatus.