Russell Jones explores whether we are heading for the future of The Handmaid's Tale or Blade Runner
Anyone who has been following the TV adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale will have been gripped by the recent season finale and will no doubt be eagerly waiting for Season Two to arrive.
For those who have neither read the novel nor seen the show, I won’t spoil things except to explain that it focuses on a future where the world is radiation-soaked, with the air and water polluted with chemicals as a direct result of nuclear war, pollution, and humanity’s irresponsible actions.
But not only is the land damaged, so are the humans, with the vast majority of humanity completely sterile.
The totalitarian society in the book and TV series is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats any remaining fertile women merely as the property of the state, removing all women’s rights and treating these ‘handmaids’ as nothing more than breeding machines in a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world.
There’s a more detailed description of the environmental issues behind the story on the Ecoist magazine website.
You can also catch up on each gripping episode on the Channel 4 i-player or read about it here.
If that all sounds a bit far-fetched then perhaps you missed the news published on 25th July on the BBC website reporting that we could become extinct if the sperm count in men continues to fall at current rates.
Climate change is still a very real and alarming issue but we have the skills and technology available now to do something about it
Another dystopian future that will be hitting our cinema screens in October is the eagerly awaited sequel to the 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner in which director Ridley Scott shows us a future world where a decayed and polluted Los Angeles is sharply contrasted with a shiny, high-tech society.
Beyond the central theme of the film, which focuses on just how human the central ‘replicants’ used as slave labour by society are, Blade Runner looks at the implications of technology on both society and the environment and paints a seriously stark and bleak future – although marketers and advertisers will be pleased to see that adverts are still everywhere you look!
Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling who the pre-release blurb tells me, uncovers a secret that could plunge society into total chaos. He must, therefore, find the hero of the original film – Harrison Ford, who's been missing for 30 years.
I’m expecting the same mix of advanced, high-tech equipment, such as the flying police cars, and a bleak, post-industrial landscape and personally, I cannot wait!
But should either of these raise alarm bells with society today?
I came across this outstanding short film on Twitter recently from Antti Lipponen (@anttilip), a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. His mesmerising animation shows how temperatures have changed in each country since 1900.
Just look at the increase in red as we reach today!
At the time of writing #EarthOvershootDay is trending on Twitter as we have now reached the point in the year where we are consuming more than the planet can sustain annually.
If we leave climate change and our impact on the planet to chance, then perhaps we really will end up with the poisoned wastelands of the Handmaid's Tale, Blade Runner, or even Judge Dread.
But before you all start digging a bunker and stocking up on stores, let me leave you with a note of optimism.
Damn right, it is inconvenient
In a recent video on his YouTube Channel – The Bernie Sanders Show, the former Presidential candidate interviews Al Gore, where they talk about the former Vice-President’s latest film – an inconvenient Sequel, Al Gore essentially reiterates the central premise of his first movie – An inconvenient Truth, but highlights how much things have moved on in the interim.
To paraphrase the former VP, climate change is still a very real and alarming issue ... BUT ... we have the skills and technology available now to do something about it.
So everyone, the future is still very much undecided – and still very much up to you as an individual.
In a slight misquote from another science fiction classic, if we all do our own little bit then we can all ‘live long and prosper’.
Russell Jones is PR & Content Manager for Mitsubishi Electric.