In 2025, frequent extreme weather and air pollution made Johannesburg no longer suitable for humans to live on the ground. Therefore, the people of Johannesburg used advanced engineering technology to develop the underground structure of the gold mine belt into a new underground refuge city. Through 10 years of development, the underground city has developed a smart city management system including an environmental simulation system, an energy cycle system, a high-speed transportation system, and a mature disaster warning system. Since then, the underground city can meet the long-term living needs of all Johannesburg residents. Every resident has allocated basic living facilities: smart living space, food 3D printer, and protective clothing used to enter and exit the city on the ground. Also, due to the lack of water resources, the government had to assign a limited amount of water to every resident as well. Despite all the efforts of water reuse, the allocated share was decreasing every year.
People realized the escalating water crisis has hindered the prosperity of the underground city. From 2035, people tried to construct infrastructure that collected precipitation to obtain water resources. However, extreme weather has led to extremely unstable precipitation, coupled with the further decline of the groundwater level. People realized that only by restoring the ecological environment on the ground can they obtain sustainable water resources. Therefore, since 2035, more and more people have returned to the ground to engage in research related to the green natural infrastructure and the acquisition of water resources. A large number of township land on the ground has been converted into experimental fields for ecological restoration. Only the central city retained high-rise buildings as research centers, water monitoring labs, memorial towers, and entrances to the underground city. To achieve the common goal of "water", the boundaries and prejudices of race, class, and gender disappeared for the first time in Johannesburg.
Of all the plans to solve the water crisis, the Plant Cultivation and Water Conservation Project (PCWCP) is the most ambitious plan. Its goal is to cultivate new water-retaining plants under extreme weather conditions such as high temperature, water shortage, and occasional floods, and ultimately improve the soil environment and restore the groundwater level. With the implementation of plant cultivation in the PCWCP 1.0-4.0, new man-made and diverse planting landscapes and ecosystems have gradually formed on the ground. However, plants were still vulnerable to extreme weather and the water cycle system was very fragile. The turning point came in 2050, when the successful planting of plants from PCWCP 5.0 promoted the gradual restoration of the groundwater level, raising hopes for the integrated development of Johannesburg's above ground and underground cities.
Our story begins with the launch of Plant Cultivation and Water Conservation Project 5.0 …