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Science fiction blockbuster movies – A problem or a path to urban greenery?

Abstract : Urban greenery in cities is important for human health, for resilient and sustainable cities, and for flora and fauna. The importance of urban greenery is highlighted in numerous global, national and local policies. However, the rapid increase of urban sprawl and densification globally has reduced access, availability and quality of urban greenery. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), cities "do not know how to incorporate nature and nature contribution to people into city planning". Perhaps this limitation is because urban planners, architects, landscape architects (urban designers) and urban ecologist (nature conservationist) view nature in cities differently. In addition, few studies on cities focus on nature and ecology. In this paper, we highlight the need to develop new designs and nature conservation approaches that promote biodiversity in cities. Science fiction (SF) and science have a history of inspiring each other and inspiring innovative solutions. For example, SF blockbusters have affected people's engagement in climate change. Here, we evaluate how 44 of the most viewed American SF movies depict nature in cities, including diversity of species and how characters interact with nature. We reveal that these movies tend to ignore nature in their depictions of future cities. If nature is depicted in SF it is very similar to contemporary cities with monoculture lawns and ornamental gardens. Moreover, SF movies do not depict innovative ways of including nature in cityscapes, they illustrate unrealistic settings without basic ecological functions (e.g., pollinators), and their characters do not interact with nature when nature is depicted or only frame the scene as a façade. We suggest that urban designers, urban ecologists, and SF artists collaborate to imagine how to integrate nature and biodiversity into the depictions of future cities, a strategy that could help change norms about urban greenery.
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Submitted on : Saturday, September 3, 2022 - 2:10:54 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 9, 2022 - 3:24:33 PM

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Marcus Hedblom, Anne-Caroline Prévot, Axelle Grégoire. Science fiction blockbuster movies – A problem or a path to urban greenery?. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, Elsevier, 2022, 74, pp.127661. ⟨10.1016/j.ufug.2022.127661⟩. ⟨mnhn-03768370⟩

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