Yesterday, as I arose, I stumbled upon an unusual envelope under my door. It was made from a peculiar material, a hybrid between paper and metal, flexible yet not rigid, with no stamp, though my name and address were inscribed.
How Did Water Run Out? Perspectives from a Dystopian Future in 2070
Upon opening it with curiosity, I was startled to recognize the handwriting. Yet, what was most striking was the date and the content, which I now share with you.
Subject: Letter Written in the Year 2070
In the year 2070, I have just turned 50, but I appear 85. I suffer from kidney issues due to water scarcity and believe my time is limited. In this society, I am among the eldest. I recall when I was 5, everything was different: leafy parks, home gardens, and long showers. Now, we cleanse ourselves with towels soaked in mineral oil.
Women used to flaunt beautiful hair; today, we must shave our heads to maintain hygiene without water. Previously, washing cars with a hose was common; now, that seems inconceivable to children.
Advertisements urged water conservation, but no one took them seriously. We never imagined it would run out. Today, rivers, dams, lakes, and aquifers are depleted or contaminated.
Once it was recommended to drink eight glasses of water a day; now I am limited to half a glass. Clothing is disposable, adding to the trash. We’ve reverted to septic tanks due to the lack of water in sewage networks.
People look worn and wrinkled from dehydration, with sores due to the absence of the ozone layer. Vast deserts are the common landscape.
Gastrointestinal diseases and skin and urinary ailments are the leading causes of death. The industry has stalled, and unemployment is high. Desalination plants are the main source of employment, paying with water instead of money.
Water theft is common. Food is mostly synthetic. By age 20, dry skin makes people look 40.
Scientists seek solutions, but it seems impossible. Without water, oxygen has also degraded, affecting the intelligence of new generations.
The morphology of sperm has altered in many men, leading to an increase in children born with various deficiencies, mutations, and deformities.
Currently, the government charges for the air we breathe: 137 m^3 daily per adult. Those who cannot afford it are expelled from the “ventilated zones,” equipped with enormous mechanical lungs that operate on solar energy. Although the air is not of the best quality, it is breathable. The average life expectancy has plummeted to 35 years.
Some countries still have green areas with rivers, heavily guarded by the military. Water has become a resource more valuable than gold or diamonds.
Trees are Scarce Here: The Absence of Rain and the Acid Rain Phenomenon
Trees have become rare in this world, a direct consequence of the lack of rain. When it does rain, it’s acid rain. The seasons have drastically altered due to atomic testing and industrial pollution from the 20th century.
There were warnings to care for the environment, but they were not taken seriously.
When I tell my daughter about my youth, I describe the beautiful forests, the rain, the flowers, how pleasant it was to bathe and fish in rivers and reservoirs, and the freedom to drink all the water we wanted. It was a time when people enjoyed better health.
She asks me: Dad, why did the water run out?
Then, I Feel a Lump in My Throat
I can’t help but feel guilty, as I belong to the generation that finished destroying the environment or didn’t take the warnings seriously.
Our children are paying a very high price, and I sincerely believe that life on Earth will soon be unsustainable, due to the irreversible destruction of the environment.
I wish I could go back in time and make humanity understand this reality when we still could do something to save our planet.
Extracted from the magazine “Chronicle of the Times,” April 2002