Last November marked the month when Blade Runner’s future was supposed to become a reality. Writing about it then, we said that 2019 hadn’t managed to get the most dramatic aspects of its science fiction setting right, but that we still had until 2049 to turn our world into a miserable place that looks like Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. At the time, we believed there were 30 years to get this done. Somehow, god damn it all, we’ve managed to pull it off in less than one thanks to an ominous haze created by wildfires.
The horrific fires currently ravaging the west coast have now turned into an annual reminder of just how badly we need real, significant action to combat climate change. No images of the fires to date have been more strikingly apocalyptic than the dark orange haze that covered cities yesterday, leading many observers to point out that, yeah, our disasters now look like they’re plucked straight from Blade Runner.
These videos are far from the only comparisons between the wildfire haze and Blade Runner, probably because when you wake up to a world that looks as if it’s dropped into hell itself, the mind has a way of latching onto any precedent for such an unreal situation. For lots of people, a future California, smoke-filled, environmentally devastated, and overlaid with eerie Vangelis and Han Zimmer scores offers the only example of what’s currently happening.
More specifically, the haze calls to mind 2049's desolate future Las Vegas, which has been abandoned by everyone except a sad old Harrison Ford, his whiskey-loving dog, and an Elvis hologram. Plenty of side-by-side photos show the similarities between fiction and reality, which are awful and awfully apt.
Given how quickly the world has caught up with what we thought we had a few more decades to accomplish, it’s probably time to start investing in sea walls and bug farms. Or, hell, maybe we could avoid walking into a sci-fi dystopia by stopping to think about how monumentally fucked up it is that we’re already living through the worst aspects of one.
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