There reached a time when the Earth was in even worse shambles than it is now. It was horrible. The sky turned permanently grey, and chlorophyll died, making a tree’s leaves barely distinguishable by colour from its trunk. Half the species of animals that existed in 2010 had gone extinct, including chickens (the black Americans and the Africans were blamed for this one, leading to a major racial dispute that ended with a lot of people dead). Population decreased by about 60% in these tragic years, and slowly but surely, humans began to regress into the stone ages again.
Eventually, and too late, as they tend to be, humans decided that there was probably a problem that needed solving. So, a bunch of quasi-philosophical aspiring dictators, who all secretly hated each other, came together to assess the situation. Now, we know that there are times, more often than not, when humans believe too much in their own previously-thought-of ideas and are too adamant and more obstinate than mules (which had also died out) to change them. Accordingly, these madmen, in line with Einstein’s idea of the mark of insanity, blamed the deterioration of the world on the lack of formal education…and you thought humans couldn’t get any stupider.
Anyway, these aspiring dictators concluded that the reason why the human race had allowed their world to end up in shambles is because we were too unfamiliar with it. Their proposed solution was the introduction of a new academic course called “Universal Studies,” which would now be the only subject studied in school. They spent a year constructing a meaningless syllabus (which was basically the integration of all the natural science subjects), during which academics continued as it was, because they couldn’t afford to have ignorant students.
The world continued to rapidly deteriorate. The people finally released their syllabus. The Universal Studies course spread like wildfire, because, just like the Erudite of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the “developed” and “developing” world believed that all problems could simply be solved if we knew everything.
Animals went extinct, and natural meat ceased to exist. Meanwhile, students knew everything about the inner organs of frogs and chickens.
Crops lost fertile soil to grow in, but on the bright side, everyone could quote the formula for photosynthesis.
The ozone layer depleted beyond repair, but at least everyone was familiar with the chemical composition of Uranus.
And so the world continued to progress, until students and teachers could not walk out the classroom doors because the air outside was unbreatheable, and everyone went hungry because there was no food, and just when humans believed they had reached enlightenment and that academically, they finally knew everything about everything…everyone died.