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Mobile in Braunschweig 2033 – A look at the future of the city

A boom region thanks to airship travel

Monday morning, the year 2033. I’m sitting on the rooftop terrace of my multi-generational residential community home, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the languorous squadrons of airships adrift over the city, preparing to land without a sound or setting off on some journey. They bring goods and tourists to our small boom town. Of late, it has grown into a vital regional logistics center. Ever since our little regional airport of Waggum transformed into an international hub for airships and the Hanseatic harbor on the Midland Canal became a transshipment facility for inland waterway transport, Braunschweig’s regional significance has further increased. Jobs in transport and an up-and-coming tourism industry between the Harz mountains and the heathland are drawing more and more people to our city.

Bicycle highways in downtown

Still, as the years have passed, the noise of the city has faded, since there is hardly a single combustion engine on the road these days. New buildings have sprung up, containing energy efficient homes with underground garages for shared electric cars and for bicycles and e-bikes, the vehicle of choice among most people for handling everything daily downtown, whether it is commercial or personal. New bicycle highways, byways and intersections have arisen everywhere so that my e-bike gets me to any place faster now than the car I once drove. Just yesterday a bike patrol caught me speeding again. I’m retired, but I still work part-time as a goods courier and I’m out on these roads a lot these days with my electric-assisted heavy transport bike. And occasionally, the occasion calls for haste. But what else can you do when your pension won’t support your real passion – traveling by airship around the world.

Green travel worldwide

Tomorrow, finally, I will be on my way again. This time it is a long cruise over Iceland and Greenland and then to the polar region to restore balance to my life. I want to see it for myself, the geothermal hydrogen export wonder that Iceland has become, then enter from the air the new state of Greenland and eat one of its homegrown salads, and finally, one last time, soar above the ice-capped vistas of the far north before that particular pole becomes part of the sovereign territory of China. I take the e-shuttle to Waggum. Majestic as an armada of giant silver-grey whales are the airships there, up to two hundred at any time, of diverse sizes, at anchor at one of the four vertically arranged levels of the dirigible dock.

Beijing – San Francisco – Braunschweig

Once more my gaze lingers on the airfield and the ceaseless sinking and rising of the vast, light gray vessels: they come from every direction, sailing in upon aerial tides, the call of earth seemingly heard as the ships turn into position and lose altitude, while at distant docking points or those close at hand others cast off their tethers and ascend the heavenly deeps, heading out in every direction, above and under and over and between all the new arrivals, toward destinations like Frankfurt, Beijing, San Francisco. Everything happens in a nearly perfect silence. The airfield resembles more a large sea bay than that which it once was, an asphalt desert stinking of kerosene and cacophonous with the bustle of fossil-fueled air travel. And sometimes, when the west wind brings a taste of wet sea air and your eye wanders far across the enormous field, you have the impression of standing on the edge of a vast sea. A yearning for distant places rises in me, and I am ready to roll.

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