Journal article Open Access

The Overpopulation Apocalypse and Anthropocentric Bioterrorism in Dan Brown's Inferno

Samrat Laskar

In this age of Anthropocene, overpopulation has long been identified as one of the major source of environmental problems. In spite of some necessary measures taken both nationally and globally, it still continues to threaten the environmental equilibrium of the world. Overpopulation not only offers serious challenge to the existence of non-humans and natural world, it also threatens the existence of humans to such an extent that apocalypse motif has often been invoked to discuss this emergent crisis. This issue has been taken up in Dan Brown’s ecothriller Inferno (2013). In this thriller, through the character of Bertrand Zobrist, a fanatic scientific genius, Brown anticipates a not-so-distant future when the world will collapse due to overpopulation. Zobrist, a transhumanist, releases a preventive vector virus which would enforce random sterility on one-third of the world population. The paper probes into the reason behind Zobrist’s bioterrorism and the ethicality, or the lack of it, entailed in his entire approach. It also shows that unlike the advocates of Deep Ecology, Zobrist’s concern is ultimately anthropocentric as he cannot think beyond human concern while engaging in the act of bioterrorism.

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