If you’ve seen the movie “Déjá vu” with Denzel Washington, then you know the concept of a time loop – in this case it enables a conversation for a few minutes:
In the future they’ve discovered technology to make voice calls into the past, and have allowed people to apply for calls from this side, so we did, and have been given a 4-minute window through a quantum time loop allowing a conversation about water with a 28-year-old man, in 2050. He isn’t born yet.
Person in the Present: Thank you for taking this call from 2019! I’m a little overwhelmed that we have the change of a glimpse into the future in this way, we have a million questions!
Person in 2050: I’ll try to answer every single one of them! It’s fascinating to find out what the things are that spark your curiosity. I just want to apologise if I sound a little tired, I just swam the Tagus river Estuary marathon today – celebrating 20 years since it was granted the same legal rights as human beings!
Person in the Present: Wow! Impressive! So, I need to ask you: in your home, how is water present? Do you shower, bathe and flush toilets with drinking water?
Person in 2050: OK, not sure I know what you mean… what does “flush toilets” mean?
Person in the Present: well, for centuries and at a high cost to society, we have been using drinking water to flush away all our “pee and poo” into a sewage system with pipes that run underground in cities to massive sewage treatment stations… where they separate the solids from the liquids, treat and filter the water, before returning it into rivers or the ocean.
Person in 2050: Wow. I am glad we have moved on! Well, we have microbial home systems in place and water is not added to this process – what we produce, “pee and poo”, is a precious part of the home supercycling, energy and nutrients systems. Every home has at least three composting systems – the first is precisely what I assume you call the “toilet”, the second is just for raw plant foods and the third is for all other biodegradable remains. Everything is used as a nutrient in some system and if we happen to produce more than we have a use for, we offer this in our neighbourhood networks. We get local tokens for this.
Person in the Present: And what about rainwater – do you harvest it?
Person in 2050: We pretty much live off it! I have seen pictures of Lisbon in 2018 and the biggest difference is that your buildings look baron! Now all buildings have living roofs and façades and this is how we have life and water all around us even in cities! We harvest rainwater on the roof and façades, we grow plant food everywhere (indoor and outdoor) and, with our molecular rain harvesting curtains, we can draw humidity from the air, when we need more than we have in store. We also have capillary motion systems that water our roof gardens. I suppose these technologies were all not actionable in 2019?
Person in the Present: Wow, this is music to my ears! Back in the beginning of this century I was an advocate of green roofs and façades! And the environment? The Estuário do Tejo did you get the mercury out?
Person in 2050: What mercury? I presume we must have! We have urban beaches all around the Estuary, also wildlife and fishing and hover floaters connect the shores.
Person in the Present: what about drinking water? Who supplies this?
Person in 2050: In Lisbon we have EPAL, an almost 200-year-old company, so you must know it! It supplies drinking water to our homes – this is precious so we use it for drinking only. For cooking we use scanned and filtered rainwater. If you are out in town and didn’t take your own drinking water, you will probably drink X-branded water – this is free and comes in compostable containers – do you know what X-branded water is?
Person in the Present: no idea!
Person in 2050: this water contains harmless nano-markers that collect data – biological and genetic – from everything and everyone these come in contact with. This data is then used for scientific research and becomes open data. Sounds strange to you, right?
Person in the Present: a little … yes!
Person in 2050: well since everyone’s biological and genetic identity has become accessible via live scanning, it has become open data!
The connections stops.