Inferno and the Question of Population Control


Inferno robert-langdon-thriller-title-image by Dan Brown is a thriller. It is also a warning that so many others have tried to pass onto their fellow man. The others include Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, who infamously said that we, humankind, will have to learn how to live with less, if we are to survive. That is my paraphrasing. Carter’s warning against stockpiling every kind of material good that advertisers tell us we want can also be translated into the warning of Inferno.

Underlying Inferno is the premise that the world’s inhabitants are on a collision course with nature. If the ever burgeoning population in developing countries is not stemmed (and what a time for China to drop the one child per family rule in favor of two kids), and the use of earth’s resources is not rationed, there will not be enough food to feed everyone. Carter’s prediction’s restated essentially.

Thrillers by definition require the suspension of disbelief for large parts of the novel. Inferno is no different. A race to stop the unleashing of a population control virus takes the reader on a tour of Italy and Istanbul. The dizzying pace keeps the characters from intensive retrospection. And, then there is the twists and turns that keep one on their toes–until the ending abruptly arrives.

This is one problem I had with Inferno. The ending is too simplistic. What Dan Brown did would never happen in today’s world. George Seielstad, I believe, would say that there is not enough collaboration, or even, its first step, cooperation in the world for that ending to be remotely possible. Although I do not know if I would ever agree that a virus as concocted in Inferno should be unleased, the what-do-we-do-about-it response Brown gives the reader is laudable.

Recently I read an article written by Geoffrey West entitled,“Wisdom in Numbers” in the May 2013 Scientific American (I am catching up on my reading during this holiday period) about the relationship between global inter-connectivity, seemingly intractable problems, and mathematical modeling. Whether one can fathom how math can guide humankind in solving not-so-concrete problems, the author had a point. It is George Seielstad‘s point– collaboration and cooperation on a world-wide scale.

Information, like politics, is not necessarily locally-controlled anymore. Take this blog. When I started it, I had no idea that I would have a lot of readers who do not call America home. For a woman that has grown up in the Southern South, it is oddly gratifying. Some have quite interesting blogs. Now, I follow them. It is a connection.

Hopefully, there will be more of this. Every blog may not have an answer or even part of an answer. If it gets someone thinking and that person passes their thoughts onto someone else, maybe little by little, Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” might become a living reality…

…or as Jimmy Buffet said, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”