Dante’s Inferno

The human race is undoubtedly the most superior race on Earth. We’ve come a long, long way from being mere apes to multitasking individuals. We’ve established ourselves, and we’ve made ourselves prominent. It is stupendous.

Let us just hope that we don’t destroy what we’ve devised.

The current population count stands at an overwhelming 7.2 billion. That’s a thousand million! It’s colossal. I had learnt about overpopulation in school. And how it was, or rather, is, a ticking time bomb. But it held little significance in my life that time. It was simply a definition I had to learn to score in my exams. Little did I know about the radicalness of the issue.

Overpopulation is going to be the largest nuisance to the human race in the very near future. The United Nations has predicted the population to reach about nine billion by the year 2050. That’s pouring 2.4 billion babies into the world in just  27 years. It is hard to imagine that.

The population landmarks are really just bizarre.World Population Graph

1 billion people : 1801

That is less than what China alone sustains today.

2 billion people : 1923

3 billion people : 1960

4 billion people : 1974

5 billion people : 1987

6 billion people : 1999

6.9 billion people : 2010

7 billion people : 2011

As in July 2010, China has a population of 1.3 billion, India 1.2 billion, USA 307 million, Russia 141 million, Germany 82 million, France 62 million, Britain 61 million.

The  dip in the graph between the years 1000 and 2000 marks the Black Death in the 1300’s. This is the time when what happened is what we cannot even hope to dream in the next 100 years – the inversion of the population graph! The deadly disease that spread over Europe is believed to have killed approximately 75 million people in just over 4 years. It originated in China and was carried over to Europe by rats living in the merchant ships. The first wave was in late 1347 and continued to havoc the people until 1351. Remember the poem ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ we learnt as a nursery rhyme in kindergarten? Guess where it came from.

“The invariable sneezing and falling down in modern English versions have given would-be origin finders the opportunity to say that the rhyme dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and “all fall down” was exactly what happened.”                                                                 …source: Wikipedia

Overpopulation can be seen as a root cause which kickstarts all of the other urban issues. The logic is simple – the Earth is finding it had to sustain such a large population. The resources are falling short of our requirements. Water shortage? Food shortage? Land shortage? Blame overpopulation. More people means more pollution, more waste, and an amplified form of  global warming. Civil wars and flying crime rates will soon follow. There are so many shortcomings, and yet most of them boil down to the satanic issue of overpopulation. Extinction of exotic species is largely due to human encroachment on natural habitats and ecosystems. Because humans require more land. To accommodate a larger population. Ozone layer depletion and shortage of Energy follow the same cycle. There seem to be actually very few complications that don’t have their origin in overpopulation. 

The officials have come up with a lot of solutions, like providing an unlimited supply of condoms to the Africans, but they don’t seem to be doing any good. A very good policy was introduced by Communist China, known as ‘One Child Policy’ through which they hoped to combat the crisis. Studies show that this policy has prevented the birth of about 350 million babies. It would have worked wonders had they kept check on the violations of the policy. Because of this policy, the Chinese unfortunately started practising female infanticide, which has led to a deep sex imbalance in the country, where there are 118 boys every 100 girls as compared to the natural sex ratio of 105:100. What I read on Facebook really intrigued and amused me. The irony is really pronounced here – The two most populated countries, China and India are actually very shy in public when it comes to matters of sexual intimacy, as compared to the western world where losing your virginity at the age of 15 is not a big deal. The hypocrisy is hilarious.

All of this ranting is thanks to Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno which I finished reading recently. There were some hardcore facts in that book, which simply outline the fact that we’ve been living in a bubble. And how necessary it is to burst that bubble and take a peek at the bitter reality.

Do you know what a Doomsday Clock is? Imagine that all time, since the beginning of the universe, is compressed down to one hour. Then the proximity to 12 o’ clock tells us how close we are to human destruction. This symbolic clock face was introduced in 1947, and the changes in it were initially only based on nuclear wars, however, post 2007 climate changes have also been considered. The latest time the clock shows is 11.55 pm. Although it is only the people’s opinion, it should not be completely ignored.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Inferno, like most of Dan Brown’s previous books, is a wonderful integration of an exciting plot into the real world. It follows Robert Langdon in his quest to decode verses of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy which intend to lead him to his object of interest. The better part of the plot is set in the historical city of Florence, Italy where Dan Brown’s descriptions evoke great interest in the Italian history. Dan Brown takes us on a tour to Italy where he elaborately describes a lot of places of historical significance and imparts a lot of information about them as well, which simply resonates his immensely deep knowledge in this field.

He has also drawn the attention of the world to the overpopulation issue, and backed it up with mathematics, which really sets the mind thinking.  Dan Brown, through the fictional character of Bertrand Zobrist, says that unless we tackle this problem head-on, it wouldn’t take a lot of time for Hell, as described in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy written in the middle ages (and illustrated by Botticelli’s Map of Hell), to become a reality.

Botticelli's Map of Hell

“The Darkest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

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