Sydney 2019
Sydney is looking a lot like Bladerunner 2049....

ON SATURDAY MORNING I woke to an orange-red sun. During the morning Christchurch was bathed in a strange half light that obscured the Port Hills. People had the lights on in their houses and some cars were driving with their headlights on. There was the faint, acrid smell of smoke in the air. A friend of mine described it as 'apocalyptic'. I wouldn't go quite as far as that but it was still slightly foreboding. I noticed more than one person looking up at the sky with puzzled and questioning expressions on their faces.

The 'unusual climactic conditions', to employ mainstream journalistic language for a moment, were the result of smoke being blown across the Tasman from the Australian bush fires. NIWEA described it as a 'robust plume' of smoke.

There are some one hundred bush fires presently raging in Australia and almost half of then are what the authorities describe as 'uncontained'. In other words, they are too big to be extinguished by fire fighters. They are relying on rain to do that and if they have no idea when that rain will eventually arrive and whether it will arrive in the quantities required. The situation is as desperate as this.

A major metropolitan area like Sydney is now hidden under a veil of smoke. A reported 1000 people have been treated by Sydney hospitals because of negative reaction to the smoke and schools have cancelled sporting and other outside events because of the hazardous quality of the air. There also reports of workers such as builders and road workers downing tools because of the adverse conditions.

Bladerunner 2049
While much of the corporate media continues to downplay the seriousness of the conditions with Sky News even allowing climate change deniers a regular platform to peddle their nonsense, these conditions are not normal. While Australia has always been vulnerable to bush fires, these fires have been generated by record breaking drought and record breaking heat. The fire season has lengthened so substantially that it has already reduced opportunities for fuel reduction burning. This means it is harder to prepare for worsening conditions. This is all the consequence of the climate crisis.

Yet the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to deny the impact of climate change. The best that Morrison has been able to come up with is to recommend Sydney people download an app so they can track the bush fires.

As one Australian climate scientist Sarah Perkins-Kilpatrick told the Guardian:

“They’re burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them and that’s the scary thing. It’s only going to get worse.”

Sydney looks like a scene from Bladerunner 2049. The film, a sequel to the original Bladerunner, depicts a world where the world's ecosystem has effectively collapsed. The rich elite, having ransacked the Earth, have departed for other worlds leaving everyone else to survive the best they can.

Los Angeles, the backdrop to the movie, is bathed in a seemingly permanent orange smoke. It looks eerily like Sydney. It seems that the dystopic future that Bladerunner 2049 predicts for us is actually a lot like our present.


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