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An environmental take on Bladerunner 2049

A poster image of Bladerunner 2049

Showing at a cinema near you (source:

The new Bladerunner 2049 film, much like it’s precursor, paints a stark picture of the state of our environment in the future.

Sickly cities choking on pollution and perpetual smog play centre stage for most of the 2.5 hour new Bladerunner 2049. Constant rain, and snow, seem to dominate the weather in a seemingly post-geoengineered climate. In a sunny state like LA, it’s almost unfathomable.

Strong parallels can be drawn with an Australian book, The Sea and the Summer by George Turner. Published in 1984 and in the US under the title Drowning Towers, the book centres on a climate-change ravaged Melbourne in and around the year 2040. It depicts a gritty, crime-ridden city: a no-go zone for anyone barely resembling a middle-class status with clean clothes on their backs.

An image of the front cover of The Sea and Summer

The title by George Turner (Source:

Bladerunner 2049, much like The Sea and The Summer, shows our core human values started withering away after the demise of our environment. Both show how filthy cities have to deal with tides of an overflowing ocean and what little value we have left for whatever lies outside of towering buildings.

One female character in the film marvels at a wooden toy and says ‘I’ve never seen a tree’. This makes sense as nowhere in the film do you see a garden, greenery or a tree, but only in a virtual-reality setting with a key female character (Carla Juri) who lives in a clinically-isolated laboratory.

The energy used by humans and replicants in Bladerunner 2049 makes a consistent statement. Concentrated solar thermal – just like the 17MW Gemasolar thermal plant in Spain – makes for a stunning entry in the opening minutes of the film, of row upon row of circular solar thermal farms as far as the eye can see.

Electric, flying cars with drones attached are the main mode of transport. During a fight scene with a replicant and new Bladerunner Officer K (Ryan Gosling) in the early part of the movie, a gas-fuelled hob is steadily boiling a pot on the stove. But nowhere else is there an obvious use of fossil-fuels, just the remains and refuse of a post-‘greenhouse-people’ world.