- "We don't know who struck first, us or them, but we know that it was us that scorched the sky. At the time, they were dependent on solar power and it was believed that they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the sun."
- ―Morpheus to Neo [src]
During humanity's war against the machines, the leaders of the United Nations found themselves desperately trying to halt the advancement of the 01's armies, who were relentlessly advancing and overrunning various nations in Africa and Eurasia.
The Machines were winning the war against the humans. Looking for any way to slow their advance, scientists devised a plan to block the sun's rays from the surface of the Earth using nanites sprayed into the upper atmosphere in the hopes of cutting the Machines off from their primary power source.
This "final solution" was codenamed Operation Dark Storm.
- "So the leaders conceived of their most desperate strategy yet, a final solution - the destruction of the sky. Thus would man try to cut the machines off from the sun, their main energy source."
- ―The Instructor [src]
The operation commenced with UN bombers deploying the shroud over the Middle East, soon encircling the entire planet. While the humans are successful in "scorching the sky", Operation Dark Storm carried tremendous costs both for the planet and humanity itself. Without energy from the Sun, much of Earth's life could not survive, leading to the total collapse of the biosphere.
Universal crop failure soon followed, causing worldwide famine. A vast amount of human military equipment which heavily relied on solar power was also crippled. The operation soon proved to be an absolute failure, as the machines were able to adapt to a world without solar power. Humanity was ultimately defeated and placed into the virtual-reality world of the Matrix.
Even after dominating the planet for generations, the Machines have not been able to remove the nanite shroud. The Architect revealed to Neo that the current year is actually something around 2699, which means that even with all their advanced technology, the Machines have been unable to remove the nanites for six centuries.
It is possible that this is because the nanite shroud was truly never meant to be deactivated and is resistant to EMP. There was no shutdown code or antidote, and the nanites are still reproducing Von Neumann machines. If this is the case, it was an act of near-suicidal desperation by the United Nations.
Conversely, the Machines may simply have become so used to their new civilization relying on humans powering the Matrix that they feel no need to remove the nanite shroud, which also conveniently starved to death most organic life on the planet.
Neo and Trinity attempt to fly the Logos over the nanite shroud in The Matrix Revolutions. This causes not only the heavily damaged hovership to stop working but also all of the Sentinels on the hull. It is, therefore, possible that the nanite shroud also prevents any travel into outer space, essentially trapping the Machines on Earth. However, by the time of the comic-story Goliath, which takes place later than any other story in the Matrix Franchise, the Machines have sent probes into outer space. As such, by that time, the shroud may have considerably dissipated, its nanites have become inactive, or the Machines may have devised a way to penetrate them safely.
- ↑ Operation Dark Storm is described in "The Second Renaissance", a two-part short film from The Animatrix.
- ↑ Morpheus tells Neo that he did know that man was the one who "scorched the sky", showing him a depiction of the Earth's sky while introducing Neo to the concept of the Matrix within the Construct.