If you have read Dan Brown’s novel “Inferno” — his fourth book featuring Professor Robert Langdon — you might be one of the many who felt conflicted after finishing the book. In contrast with the first three books in the series which all had religious undertones, this novel deals with a universal problem: overpopulation.
In the novel, the solution devised to control the problem of overpopulation was by spreading a virus that was designed to modify a person’s DNA and cause him/her to become sterile. Supposedly, the virus was to affect one third of the human population, and this would have been enough to control population growth. Instead of trying to find a way to reverse the effects of the engineered virus, the book ended with the characters deciding to just let the situation as it is because the virus had already been spread anyway. More importantly, they acknowledged that the problem of overpopulation was dangerous and maybe the solution, as radical as it was, might turn out to be beneficial for the human race after all.
Some might actually agree with the solution, as extreme as it was. But many might disagree because it oversteps the boundaries of human rights.
We’re not sure about Brown’s views on this, but we’re pretty sure he agrees that the situation is at the point where something decisive has to be done before it becomes too late. We’re talking about Sir David Attenborough — the famous British naturalist and broadcaster who has been quite vocal about his concern on population growth.
It’s been three years since he warned us about it. “The human population can no longer be allowed to grow in the same old uncontrolled way. If we do not take charge of our population size, then nature will do it for us,” he said.
Attenborough suggested three ways to minimize humanity’s impact on the planet, or being a ‘plague on Earth’ as he put it. First, we need to reduce consumption of our natural resources. Second, we need to do something about technology. Third, we need to control our population. If there were lesser people, it will be easier to solve environmental problems, and the possibility that our planet will eventually run out of resources to take care of everyone’s needs might cease to become a threat too.
He also pointed out a very specific solution: that women should be given more control of their bodies because in places where this is happening, birth rates are not as high.
It’s a logical conclusion. And maybe it should be complemented by something that the other half of the population can do — the men. Ideally, women should be able to say no when they don’t want to engage in sex. However, they shouldn’t always be expected to take responsibility for it. Maybe men should also be encouraged to practice birth control measures.
It’s clear that something has to be done about the way society deals with sexual behaviour.
And yet, a decisive solution on a worldwide scale has yet to be seen.
Unless we are prepared to accept a scenario like the one presented in the “Inferno” novel where no one is given a choice because a random part of the population is forced to become the solution, we better start working on something while we all still have a choice. And while nature is still giving us time to make a choice.