When a River Runs Wild
The Ecotopia 2121 project predicts the future of 100 super-ecofriendly cities across the globe -- as though they have survived climate change and gone on to flourish anew. Today, we highlight the future of Resistencia.
Resistencia, in the northern Argentina, sits on land once inhabited by the native Guaykuru indians. Their centuries long resistance to European settlement is honored in the city’s name which was eventually founded in the late 19th Century by Italian immigrants. Resistencia nowadays is classified as ‘sub-tropical’ but by 2121 with global warming, it has become decidedly ‘tropical’.
Resistencia has chronic water problems -- sometimes there’s not enough, sometimes there’s too much -- and always it is contaminated. Activists blame this on a litany of 'isms': for example: 'industrialism'; whereby industry runs rife, 'cronyism'; whereby polluters are left to pollute by their friends in government, and 'capitalism' whereby Nature is valued only as a resource for commercial exploitation.
Another rampant 'ism' is 'anthropocentrism': the belief that humans are the center of the universe and other creatures, like those living in the Argentine wilderness, don’t matter so much.
In Resistencia 2121, though, another ism is highlighted: namely sexism. Women in Resistencia are stuck with less financial resources than men, less education than men, and less political influence than men. Every day, they also bemoan the dirty water gushing from their taps and every day they protest against the diversion of the Rio Negro's riverwater away from their garden crops and into the city’s messy men-run factories. For decades, the women of Resistencia have campaigned to have clean water piped to every home and garden of the city but every time they’ve been thwarted by chauvinism, by corruption, and by the threat of violence.
Now, in April 2121, after months of drought, when water flows only to the homes of the rich, they finally mobilize. Luckily, they have a band of water science students in their midst and the deft skill of these so-called 'watermaidens' -- swashbuckling amongst the city’s infrastructure -- is used to bring city leaders to their knees.
The watermaidens divert water supplies away from the rich suburbs and into the houses of the poor. At first, the city leaders call in a militia to deal with the situation and a band of gun-wielding men gather on one bank of the Rio Negro determined to storm the occupied water center on the other bank.
The autumn air is hot; as is usual. The autumn water is warm and slow-flowing—but this is not usual.
The men stride into the river forthrightly but halfway across they are attacked by fish biting at their legs and ripping at any exposed flesh.
The men have no idea at first what is happening, these waters are usually too cold for Piranha, but now, with indignant screams of agony echoing across the banks, the surprise attack forces the men to retreat. It seems climate change has brought the hungry fish beyond their normal range and into Argentine waterways.
Listening to the cheers of the watermaidens on the other side of the river, the city leaders are also forced into negotiation.
For the complete story of Bristol 2121, see the Ecotopia 2121 project book.