Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

Dan Brown’s Inferno: This might be fiction, but it’s a wake-up call

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” (Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321)

With this epigraph from Dante, Dan Brown begins his recently published novel, Inferno, which deliberately takes its name from one of the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. It is not merely one of those un-put-downable, on-the-edge-of-your-seat novelistic thrillers; it is also a clarion call to readers the world over to wake up to the largely unnoticed, but inexorably growing (pun intended) threat to humanity – overpopulation.

As with the earlier novels, The Lost Symbol, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels & Demons, the central character is again Robert Langdon, brilliant and charismatic Harvard art historian and symbologist, this time in the middle of developments that may lead to a 21st-century version of the 14th-century Black Death, or Bubonic Plague. That is, if the somewhat ambivalent villain of the narrative, a fanatical biochemist genius, achieves what appears to be his aim, namely to exterminate at least a third of the world’s population by means of a “virus” created by him.

One is led to believe that this “virus” is hidden in a location that Robert has the unenviable task of identifying by deciphering a series of clues which he, as master-symbologist, is best qualified to do. Only – the task is complicated by the fact that Robert Langdon finds himself, unexpectedly, in Florence, Italy, with a head wound apparently inflicted by a bullet from a would-be assassin’s pistol. In addition, he is suffering from amnesia and experiencing a series of recurring, disturbing visions straight from Dante’s “Inferno”.

Just as unexpectedly, he discovers a sympathetic helper in Dr Sienna Brooks, who attends to his wound at the Florence hospital where he regains consciousness. The scene is therefore set for a tense and potentially lethal series of events, with a mysterious team of highly trained soldiers hunting for Robert in and around some of Florence’s best known architectural masterpieces, where only the art historian’s intimate knowledge of these buildings enables him and Sienna to stay out of reach of the SRS team.

Along the way, Dante’s presence is always tangibly felt in some or other way, emphasising that the text of his “Inferno” is crucial in decoding the clues cleverly placed by their enigmatic adversary along the way – clues that they learn, have to be correctly deciphered before a certain date, lest an unspecified, but by all indications catastrophic event take place at the venue that the clues point to. The involvement of the director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) further complicates this already complex plot.

I won’t be a spoiler by revealing too much about the narrative to those people who have not read the novel; suffice it to say that, although the status of Dan Brown’s novels as thrillers would probably prevent them from being classified as “literature” in the “high art” sense of the term, this does not mean that they are devoid of literary value. For one thing, if Jacques Ranciére’s notion of the “redistribution of the sensible” through art (including literature) is taken seriously, this novel does so in an important fashion.

This phrase means that the way in which a literary work, or a painting, or film, presents the sensible world in iconic or symbolic terms, rearranges the relations between things and people in the world in a significant manner. Just like Dante’s “Inferno” did this, so, too, Dan Brown’s Inferno achieves the same effect, albeit not at exactly the rich literary level that the Italian master’s epic poem operates. In brief, the novel “partitions the sensible” by allowing readers to glimpse disturbing possibilities, if not probabilities, which they may otherwise not have perceived.

As before – especially in The Da Vinci Code – the research that went into the writing of this novel is astonishing, and, as far as I can tell, accurate. This is not only the case with Florence (where most of the action is set), Venice and Istanbul, whose important historical buildings and other artworks Brown has researched thoroughly to be able to write the novel – one could prepare for a visit to all the worthwhile places in Florence just by reading his descriptions of them carefully.

There is an even more persuasive reason for reading this novel, however. If one does not know what the mathematical concept of “geometric progression” means, and how it would apply to population increase, you will find out in the course of reading Brown’s Inferno. It’s really simple: double the number 1, which makes 2; double 2 to make 4; double 4 to make 8, and so on, and see what colossal number you get after executing this doubling fifty times. Now apply this to human population growth. And if you have never heard of the 19th-century mathematician Malthus, who used this concept to predict the disastrous consequences of the human population reaching a level where the food supply on the planet would no longer be sufficient to feed everyone, you will learn about it here, woven into the fictional fabric of a gripping story, but no less disturbing than when one reads it in Malthus’s own work.

Moreover, if you have ever been struck by the irony, that the incremental improvement in medical care over the last few centuries has created a situation where humanity is slowly but surely approximating the population level where sheer numbers become an increasingly intractable problem, you will find this thematically explored here. The figures and graphs concerning things like population growth, climate change, fresh water depletion, fish depletion, and more – all of which are interwoven with the riveting narrative – appear to be accurate for the time of the novel’s publication. The fact that all these processes are rising in a curve that parallels the rise in human population comprises the basis for the driving motif: a brilliant, but unhinged scientist believing that he should “save” humanity by eradicating a sizeable number of people.

Did you know that it took millions of years for humans and their predecessor species on earth to reach one billion individuals (relatively recently)? And that since then those numbers have shot up to over seven billion? Here is an excerpt from the novel where the significance of this population explosion is explained analogically by Sienna (p214):

“ ’I've studied a fair amount of biology,’ she said, ‘and it’s quite normal for a species to go extinct simply as a result of overpopulating its environment. Picture a colony of surface algae living in a tiny pond in the forest, enjoying the pond’s perfect balance of nutrients. Unchecked, they reproduce so wildly that they quickly cover the pond’s entire surface, blotting out the sun and thereby preventing the growth of the nutrients in the pond. Having sapped everything possible from their environment, the algae quickly die and disappear without a trace.’ She gave a heavy sigh. ‘A similar fate could easily await mankind. Far sooner and faster than any of us imagine.’ ”

Dan Brown has rendered an invaluable service to society by writing this novel – read it. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is “only fiction”. This fiction is firmly rooted in reality. And it calls for informed action, instead of the familiar dithering on the part of world leaders.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Global population dynamics and its implications for sustainable development
  • Things I am curious about in this city
  • 45 Responses to “Dan Brown’s Inferno: This might be fiction, but it’s a wake-up call”

    1. Peggy #

      Bert, I was directed to this website while googling! What a pleasant surprise. My son just finished reading Inferno, finding it riveting but not liking the ending much. It’s sitting on one of my desks. I hope I can get to it sometime. Thanks for the heads up on the book’s significant commentary on our times.

      July 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm
    2. Comrade Koos #

      Blaming population growth on our problems is right wing propaganda to divert our attention from the real issues. Over-consumption not overpopulation is the problem. The worlds massive poor population use very few resources relative to the wealthy, contribute little to pollution compared to the wealthy, and very little to the worlds carbon footprint compared to industrial nations. If every person in the world consumed the resources the average US American consumed, we would need five planet earths to survive. If resources were shared equally, the world could sustain a population of about 16 million. I bought two of Dan Brown books previously, could not stomach them, and so will not buy this one.

      I however agree, no more dithering by world leaders but this will not happen. The electorate are not educated or informed enough to see through political propaganda which is what currently sustains the ruling classes who are destroying planet earth through over-consumption.

      July 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm
    3. Comrade Koos #

      Correction, “If resources were shared equally, the world could sustain a population of about 16 billion (not million).”

      July 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm
    4. Jannie #

      Overpopulation is a myth, the worlds 7 billion people could easily fit into the southern part of Africa, leaving the rest of the worlds land available for food production. One just has to drive down to natal to see the large open pieces of land which are not in use. Work it out for yourself, take the square meterage of Africa and divide it by two and then divide it by 7 billion people and you will see that i am correct. people should stop parroting the agenda of the New World order!

      July 12, 2013 at 9:56 am
    5. Percipient #

      Warning: dangerous reading for the already misanthropic. Ah well, too late, but at least I feel less alone after having read Bert’s engaging review. I guess it’s a foregone conclusion that we, enjoying this page, are all atheists?

      July 12, 2013 at 10:04 am
    6. Bert #

      Peggy – Without giving anything away about the ending, it is a ‘logical’ outcome as far as the ‘antagonist’s’ beliefs and scientific ‘gifts’ are concerned. I’m glad that you seem to have a reason to read it. But as I said in my concluding remark, it is action that is required, if we want to leave an inhabitable planet to our descendants. If every family on the planet voluntarily only has one child, the balance would probably be restored in a century’s time.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:33 am
    7. Baz #

      Pollution, overpopulation, unstable global economies are the soul source of what happening gobally.
      Fiction imitates life .Think about it.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:36 am
    8. Dan Browne’s book “The Da Vinci Code” was based on original research but not by him, or his researchers, but on the books of Laurence Gardner, a historian whom the Roman Catholic Church disparaged as a conspirtory theorist for decades.

      In the court case over copywrite it emerged that Dan Browne employed researchers to research the backgrounds for his books. If Dan Browne had read “The Grail Enigma” himself I think “The Da Vinci Code” would have been an even better novel.

      “The Grail Enigma” and “The Shadow of Solomon” by Laurence Gardner are well worth reading.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:41 am
    9. Maria #

      @ Comrade Koos: While I am in agreement with you (and I’m sure Bert, would be, too) regarding the deleterious effect of over-consumption by the developed world, you’re wrong about excessive population numbers not being a problem. Much of what the North, unlike the poor South, consumes consists of consumer products, fossil fuels, etc., as well as food. The poor nations still consume, though, because they must survive, and in Africa this has led in some areas to the decimation of animal populations. And the more people there are, the more they will consume. This is illustrated in China, where one sees hardly any wildlife in the mountainous areas and in what’s left of forests. The sheer weight of the human population has taken a heavy toll as far as other life-forms are concerned. Why do you think the fish-populations of the world have dwindled to the level where about 80% – 90% of the bigger species have been wiped out? Mainly for human food. The blue-fin tuna is one of these species, and on the brink of extinction. No, Comrade Koos, Brown’s thesis in the book is correct – all the other indicators of over-consumption, pollution and depletion follow the same pattern as the growth in the human population. And it is not just a matter of square kilometres, Jannie; it is one of maintaining a balance between populated areas and non-populated ones, and of providing food in a sustainable way – not through large-scale commercial farming that exhausts the soil.

      July 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm
    10. Heinrich #

      The problem, Comrade Koos, is that everyone wants to improve his or her own quality of life. The poor want to get out of poverty. The middle class want to become rich and the rich, richer.

      This all implies accelerated consumption.

      So even as the pool of poverty grows, the consumption curve steepens.

      And remember, poverty will never be eradicated, because this is what profits are based on..

      July 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm
    11. Heinrich #

      Jannie : This is also a flawed argument.

      They can physically fit, yes, but what will the 7 billion people be DOING in the southern part of Africa? And where will the people responsible for the production and distribution of food be living?

      A practical way of population distribution is to determine the carrying capacity of each area or region. Like we do in the management of our wildlife population.

      Only the people directly involved in the extraction of oil, for example, should live in those desert areas which cannot produce any food or water.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm
    12. Enough Said #

      @Bert – China’s one child per family policy does not work. Its a CIA and right wing think tank myth. China ads more people to this world each year than any other country.

      The best form of birth control is an educated population. As soon as you have a universally well educted population, sub-replacement fertility kicks in.

      You could reduce the worlds population to one billion, but if they overconsume we are doomed, its better to have a population of of eleven billion that consume less than our planet can sustain.

      July 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm
    13. Gary Koekemoer #

      It’s free will, that’s the problem, people choose to have children, people choose to consume, people choose to ignore the obvious. Isn’t the obvious solution to take free will away? Free will or the planet, which one can we live without?

      July 13, 2013 at 10:13 am
    14. Muna Lakhani #

      Thankfully, some sanity in the responses above – not only is OVERCONSUMPTION killing the planet, the point about it needs some sharing of research. The wealthy make up 25% of the planetary population, but consume 80% of the resources. If we shared the current food production equitably, there would be a kilo of grain, half a kilo of fresh food, and half a kilo of the rest (eggs, cheese, etc) for every child, woman and man on the planet EVERY DAY! so production is certainly not an issue.

      Part of the consumption paradigm has led to about a billion being obese and about a billion being hungry – yet, when we look at the diet of the obese, the meat consumption is high – and we currently use 50% of all crops grown, and 50% of all fish caught, to feed livestock.! quite an imbalance, yes? and the diet is unhealthy to boot, increasing pressure on healthcare, “lifestyle” diseases, etc…and to kick it all into perspective, global livestock production generates 50% of climate changing greenhouse gases (worldwatch institute Oct 2009).

      No, this is not a “go veg” rant – just the facts…and link such production and consumption to land degradation (i.e. killing off our natural environment and our various types of extinction going on currently) and you realise that 80% of deforestation is linked to this industry.

      July 13, 2013 at 10:39 am
    15. Muna Lakhani #

      Similarly, when you look at the poor science used in calculating greenhouse gas emissions of countries, like China, for example – the majority of their “emissions” are actually consumed in the West / Global North, who should take responsibility for these emissions, yes?

      A similar pattern happens when you analyse energy – we in SA do not have an energy crisis, we are simply using it inefficiently and for the wrong purposes, subsidising the large users who return little for the energy consumed – for example, BHP Billiton uses some 10% of our electricity, yet contributes only 0.01% of GDP (whatever one might think of GDP as a measure) and 0.005% of all jobs – hardly a good return on investment, would you not agree? Even the Metalworkers Union at BHP see the inequity!

      so until we take hard looks at reality, and not believe in the social science of economics that parades as a “hard science”, we will continue to tread the path to global suicide.

      July 13, 2013 at 10:44 am
    16. China’s one child policy works alright. The trouble with people like Enough Said is they don’t understand PERCENTAGES!

      China might add more people, but what PERCENTAGE increase of their population is that?

      Actually scientifically it has been proved that a 2 child policy ALSO reduces PERCENTAGES of population. Not everyone marries, not all couples have children, and some people are killed in accidents.

      Plus it is less disruptive to family and social cohesion to have 2 children per couple.

      And the deforestation of China (for the second time – the first being in the 15th century) was the result of Mao’s Great Leap Forward POLITICAL and ECONOMIC disasterous policy, not population growth.

      As for fish – I agree that wild fish should be UN controlled as should the oceans; but the world is doing much too little fish farming, which is actually not difficult to encourage with the right political will and economic policies.

      July 13, 2013 at 11:50 am
    17. Hameeda #

      I will definitely get down to reading this book, despite knowing that it will depress me with its truth about our world.

      Awesome commentary. Makes very good reading. But I wonder whether all this information is enough to initiate action. How do we move knowing to doing?

      July 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    18. @ Hameeda – Well, let’s run through some options that have been mooted in the past.

      Reduce ‘the surplus population’ (like Scrooge in ‘Christmas Carol’?) Limit the number of children loving parents can have? (which democratic government do you imagine will be first to include that in their election manifesto?) Allow viruses and possibly some super-virus to do the job? (does that sound like something the medical research fraternity will sign up to?)

      Eugenics .. ? Wars ..? Space travel ..?

      July 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm
    19. Maria #

      ! That, Hameeda, is the QUESTION of questions!! People are so locked into their consumer lifestyles that 90% of the world population would not want to, let alone take the trouble to find out HOW to act against overpopulation, overconsumption and all the rest… Sadly, I suspect that only a global catastrophe will dislodge the widespread social and political inertia, and that might be too late for living creatures on the planet. The planet would be fine, of course; it would eventually generate new species, in the course of a couple of million years, with ne’er a flutter about the supposedly “clever” creatures called humans who used to live here…

      July 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm
    20. Judith #

      Been discussing some of these issues at the Gauteng Water Caucus meeting today. It included urban farming and radically change lifestyles. I shall definitely read the book

      July 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm
    21. Joe Soap #

      Anyone interested in the population debate should read this page “Sub-replacement fertility”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility

      >

      July 14, 2013 at 7:45 am
    22. Joe Soap #

      @Paul Whelan

      The best forms of birth control are women’s rights for control of their bodies/reproduction and a well educated population.

      Once people are educated and economically self sufficient they don’t need children to work for them to look after them in their old age and they understand contraception. This should be a very easy to sell to the electorate in any democracy.

      However, one of the hardest things to convince any conservative is that a well educated and economically self sufficient population spontaneously and automatically reduce the number of births.

      All conservatives can think about is imposing laws to control population.

      July 14, 2013 at 9:38 am
    23. The obvious answer is a ONE child per PERSON policy . This would mean that a monogamous couple could have two. Zuma and the Swazi and Zulu Kings could all have 20 children, provided they also persuaded 19 women to marry them. Since every woman brings a dowry of one child, both women and children would be more valued.

      ALSO the Chinese policy of allowing extra children IF the parents pay heavy taxes makes commercial sense.

      July 14, 2013 at 10:13 am
    24. Perhaps also the carrot as well as the stick? Like special state benefits to couples with only 2 children?

      July 14, 2013 at 10:15 am
    25. If the Irish read “Grail Enigma” by Laurence Gardner (the book on which “The Da Vinci Code” of Dan Browne is based) they might realise how they were set up by both Catholic and Protestant Monarchs in the William of Orange in invasion of Catholic Ireland, with troops financed by the Papacy. The Anglo Catholics got Britain and Ireland and the Roman Catholics got the rest of the Colonial Empires.

      Maybe their real history would unite Ireland into one nation.

      July 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm
    26. @Joe Soap:
      Excellent! The old Malthusian Catastrophe refuses to be put to bed. Everyone should read that page and look at actual human population trends.

      July 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm
    27. Maria #

      Joe Soap, the puzzling thing, when looking at those population trends, is that one might expect a much slower increase in population than has been the case. If I recall correctly, it was around the 1960-70s when the human population stood at about 3 billion, which means that the time in which it more than doubled has been negligible. This seems to confirm the “geometric progression” side of numerical increase. To be sure, human numbers are not pure mathematical entities, but if one assumes that a certain percentage of humans (say, 60-70%) reproduce in the “doubling every so many years”-fashion, it still explains why the numbers have shot up so fast, and why they will keep on doing so.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:49 am
    28. Historically the pattern is always the same:

      Nomads/Hunter Gatherers learning to farm, settlements turning into cities, empire building, and collapse in famines/droughts resulting from over population of cities and unsustainable farming methods.

      July 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    29. @Maria:
      The time period from the seventies up to now is in line with the fertility rates and what one would expect from compounding (rule of 72). Current indicators are that humans are more or less reproducing at a sup-replacement fertility rate.

      The factors that affect this are mostly the education level of women and access to birth control (no, really).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic-economic_paradox

      The reasons why there’s been such a boom after the second world war are the green revolution and widespread compulsory inoculation. The same trend is seen in the Third World, where people are becoming educated and inoculated for the first time. Their ambitions and opportunities prevent them from having time to rear children.

      We are not overpopulated by a long shot and should we be, fighting over access to resources or new diseases are likely to control our numbers. Assuming of course technology doesn’t take care of more efficient resource usage or exploration to find more habitable planets.

      For once I agree with Marx and Engels, it seems:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_catastrophe

      July 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    30. Glen Tomlinson #

      Despite Bert’s assurances that this book is well researched, Brown has serious question marks around the originality and factual accuracies of his ‘research’ It is also unreasonable to imagine that Brown has become an expert in the subject of overpopulation in the nanosecond between his last book on Vatican conspiracies and his latest, Inferno. Even if I was Edward Snowden holed up in a Moscow terminal for 15 years with nothing to read but Inferno and candy bar wrappers…I would not be reading this badly written polony. If you must grind your teeth with ‘what if’ debates and Pascal type wagers, then read something like the polarised views of Peter Diamandis and Paul Gilding. They are far more insightful and credible than the allegorical fear-mongering nonsense of Dante and Brown.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm
    31. Joe Soap #

      World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 – UN report
      http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45165#.UeQozKyTtbl

      Now this does not worry me, the poor where this increase is happening do not adds much to climate change, pollution or resource consumption.

      What worries me is that there are going to be millions more millionaires by 2050 raping the planet with increased over-consumption.

      They are the ones causing most of the deforestation and destruction of biodiversity to feed animals for meat on their tables and biofuels for their vehicles. The rich are destroying the oceans and our air, not the poor. Who uses fracked fuel, the rich or the poor? Methane leaked into the environment from fracking is between 70 and 170 more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

      I agree, there needs to be much better regulation of the environmental destruction in poor countries, but the real reason for the sixth major extinction of life on earth is caused by over-consumption of the wealthiest 25% of the global population, not the poorest 75%.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm
    32. When debating the rise and fall of civilisations and empires here is a quote for you:

      America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
      Oscar Wilde

      Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/o/oscar_wilde_2.html#AHoGTww5MBKMvEuz.99

      July 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm
    33. @ Glen Tomlinson

      Dan Browne does not do his own research for the novels he writes. He employs professional researchers to research the topic in detail before he writes a novel.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm
    34. Maria #

      Glen, you obviously haven’t read Brown’s Inferno. Sure, as Bert points out, it is no high art literature, but I have just finished reading it and can assure anyone that Brown’s description of many of the churches and other architectural marvels of the world, let alone some of the greatest paintings in the world, is amazing. So much so that one would want to go to Venice and Florence just to see these if you have not had the privilege to do so. And his research on population growth, as well as all those other processes that seem to be tracking population increase, seems accurate to me, too – allowing for changes that have already occurred since the book’s publication, of course. Brown probably does not do the research, or all of it, himself – I’ve heard through the grapevine that his wife does a lot of it for him. But hey, this is no scientific textbook, or history text; it is a thriller that is supposed to be set against extant social reality. As such, it works for me. I should add that my personal taste is catholic to the degree that I read books from every genre, and while Brown’s Inferno is not in the same league as Dante’s, or in the same league as the works of literary giants such as Umberto Eco, Michael Ondaatje, Kazuo Ishiguro, Antonia Byatt, and others, as a beautifully embellished thriller it certainly succeeds.

      July 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm
    35. Personally I don’t regard Dan Browne as a good writer. His characters are wooden and his writing simplistic. His novels are so good precisely because of the accuracy of his professional researchers. I wish more authors would copy him. Almost every book I read these days has known and provable historical inaccuracies. I repeat the quote (I don’t remember by whom):

      “Books used to be written by the educated for the people to read; now they are written by the people for no-one to read.”

      July 16, 2013 at 11:19 am
    36. Which brings me back to my pet hate – books with historical and geographic inaccuracies which perpetuate stereotypes. The novel”A Carrion Death: Introducing Detective Kubu” by Michael Stander is all about a series of murders which relate to a power struggle in a privately owned mine in Botswana, and includes a dead body of a person killed in Botswana dropped by air into the sea at Plettenberg Bay to look like a shark attack. At the very end of the book there is an author’s note, which few people will bother to read, with a disclaimer which states “such companies and their impacts are common elsewhere in Africa, but perhaps fortunately not in Botswana”. So why set the book in Botswana and not elsewhere in Africa?

      I was living in Plettenberg Bay when I read the book, and I assure you that neither National Institute of Sea Rescue, or the local Police, nor the medical authorities would be as stupid as the characters in the book to confuse a murder with a shark attack.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm
    37. @Joe Soap:
      Actually meat production has been declining in the countries with the most millionaires, but increasing in the emerging economies.

      Projections are mostly thumb suck and they rely on the same catch-all clause that the Malthusian Catastrophe relies on: All things being equal.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    38. John #

      Jacob’s Ladder by D.F McKay is a very thought provoking mystery thriller. Dan Brown fans will love it. It’s a real page turner.

      July 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm
    39. Joe Soap #

      @Garg

      Huge areas of rainforest in Brazil have been destroyed to grow GM soya for biofuels to feed cars in wealthy industrial countries, as well as fatten farm animals to put meat on the tables of people in Europe. South America is a huge exporter of GM soya which has destroyed small scale agriculture and pushed millions into poverty to make way for large scale chemical industrial agriculture in a matter of 15 years.

      One should also nvestigate the palm oil industry and destruction of rainforests as well. Who benefits from this massive rainforest destruction?

      July 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm
    40. @Joe:
      Who benefits? Apparently the people from Brazil benefit because they’re exporting products to the rest of the world. Apparently the people in Europe benefit because they have feed for their livestock.

      Everyone benefits, but that’s not the crux of the issue. The issue is at what cost do we all benefit – in other words, how sustainable is it? It’s convenient to blame the corporations and the governments and isms we don’t like, but it’s ultimately not a question of changing attitudes or socially engineering the kind of attitudes we like. Creating awareness and chanting for someone to do something are part of the commodification of activism. They are confused with doing something constructive.

      July 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm
    41. Barbara #

      I just finished reading Dan Brown’s “Inferno”, and I must applaud him for bringing to light something that many people are ignorant of or do not want to believe. Yes, the story he weaves around Professor Langdon is fiction, but the facts, statistics and charts regarding population growth are real – all you have to do is go on line and Google “World Health Organization” and “Population Growth.” The equation is very simple – we have one small planet with limited resources and a population growth that is going through the roof. If it continues like this, the earth will simply not be able to sustain the human race. This unchecked population growth is not a sympton but a direct cause of global warming, increased pollution, deforestation and even wildlife extinction (see the WHO graph reproduced on page 138 of the novel, and I don’t see who can deny the correlation). I’m not sure what the viable solution is to this depressing reality, but I am glad that a popular author such as Dan Brown had the vision and call to bring this to the attention of a large audience.

      August 26, 2013 at 1:30 am
    42. Ladies and Gentlemen,

      Scientists warn of a rapid collapse of the Earth’s ecosystem.
      The ecological balance is under threat: climate change, population growth and environmental degradation could lead even in this century an irreversible collapse of the global ecosystem.

      –> http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/06/scientists-uncover-evidence-of-impending-tipping-point-for-earth/

      The cardinal reason is the sudden development of human population that threatens to devour all our resources.

      Since 21 August there is therefore a petition at change.org for the introduction of global birth-controls, also in HINDI!

      If you want to support this or publish it on your website, here is the link:
      http://www.change.org/de/Petitionen/weltweite-geburtenregelungen-verbindlich-einf%C3%BChren-introduce-obligatory-worldwide-birth-controls

      Please continue to spread the link or the petition as possible to all interested people, organisations etc.

      Thank you and best regards
      Achim Wolf, Germany

      September 26, 2013 at 10:57 am
    43. Heinrich #

      I have just found this article, and, to be honest, I am a bit shocked. Browns research for his novel is far from accurate; in fact, it is extremely sloppy. Without being an expert myself, and without any research, I found about a dozen blatant mistakes. Vienna, my home town, is mentioned twice, and both passages contain big blunders. (Klimt’s “Der Kuss” never leasves Vienna!) I know Venice better than Florence; therefore I found most mistakes in the chapters about Venice. Any expert about Florence will certainly find much more mistakes. But the biggest blunder is the “grave” of Enrico Dandolo in the Hagia Sophia: It’s not a grave at all; just a memorial!

      And, even worse: His “research” about the theme “overpopulation” was obviously extremely one-sided. Robert Langdon is supposed to be Professor in Harvard? In that case, he should know a study of the local Center for Population Studies: According to that, in principle, it is possible to feed 40 Billion (!) people on this world. I can’t give any details here; if you have the chance, see Werner Boote’s documentation “Population Boom” in your cinema!

      Actually, reading Brown ranting about “overpopulation”, I felt reminded of an (in)famous book, published in 1926: “Volk ohne Raum” (Nation without Space). It influenced Hitler and the NSDAP, and we all know, how that ended.

      And I haven’t even started complaining about Brown’s ludicrous style of writing …

      September 29, 2013 at 5:16 am
    44. Bengt #

      Well
      with our seven billion we are quickly exterminating quite a lot of endangered species- rhinos, indian tigers, snow leopards, amur tigers, amur leopards, sharks, dolphins and so on. Great! It gives the possible 40 billion a lot of space to live on. Nice life, no dangerous animals to be afraid of. That is really the world I want to live in – only lots of people and a “nature” used for producing food.
      Nice……….
      I think Malthus and Brown is quite correct in their conclusions – we are quickly becoming to many.

      January 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Leave a Reply

     characters available