Dan Brown, whose string of best-sellers include The DaVinci Code, published a book last May called The Inferno, which topped The New York Times bestsellers’ list for several weeks.

In a surprising twist, both the villain and hero characters in the book agree that extreme measures are essential to avoid an overpopulation catastrophe for mankind. An examination of the factual data and most likely predictions coming from the UN shows these alarming predictions to be false. One amazing change in population statistics after World War II, the jump in life expectancy, was a key fact that was misused as part of the justification for a world-wide slaughter of innocents via abortion and infanticide.

Overpopulation Driven Catastrophe?

As I have been listening to the audiobook of Dan Brown’s latest thriller Inferno, I have enjoyed the detailed facts and plausible plot embellishments taken from history during the Renaissance era of the classic Italian work The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). It was, however, surprising to see that all of the characters, villains and heroes, accepted the “undeniable fact” of imminent human species catastrophe because of an exponential human population explosion. This “fact” was at the center of the book’s plot. The “save the world” herculean efforts by the hero to stop the villain seemed to me to be fruitless in the way the book ended.[1]

 0 - dante inferno circles of hellThe complex circles of the underworld depicted in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”[2]

It was also a surprise for me to find that the prediction of extreme population growth in the next centuries is not true. I had always assumed that this oft quoted “doomsday prediction” of a huge exponential “science fiction” kind of population growth was true. I also had believed that the Lord would provide the solution in spite of its apparent severity while we continued to obey His commandments.

Looking for the facts, I found that the UN report on most likely population projections based on individual country census data predicts a worldwide population of only nine billion by the year 2100. We can easily feed seven billion now and surely can also feed nine billion. So the prediction of an unsustainable population used to justify extreme population control measures is false based on current population trends. This greatly surprised me. But why would a great researcher and writer like Dan Brown make such a terrible mistake as he prides himself in trying to make his thrillers to be factual in their historical and scientific claims?

1 - Population2300

This chart shows the most likely population predictions from an official published UN report on world population up to the year 2300. The most likely “medium” scenario has a very moderate growth rate hovering around nine billion by the year 2100 and continuing around that level until 2300. This prediction using data from official sources is very unlike the doomsday predictions.[3]

Unprecedented Increase in Life Expectancy

Another surprising fact that I was unaware of hit me like a lightning bolt. After World War II, the life expectancy of people throughout the world was dramatically extended from an average of 47 years to an amazing average of 65 years in a short period of time. Deaths per thousand were reduced from 20 to 8 during the peace, prosperity, improved sanitation and waste treatment, water purification, modern medicine, greatly increased and better quality food production and other factors (“the blessings of heaven” perhaps).

It was then frightening to realize that this amazing change in population longevity plus the natural “baby boom” that happened after the war, was used by the population control advocates to validate and get support for their population explosion models and subsequent extreme population control measures. Their predictions included hundreds of millions of people starving to death in the 1970’s and the 1980’s, both of which predictions did not happen.[4]

1a - the overpopulation myth sardinesWarnings of overpopulation famines in the 1970’s and 1980’s did not come to pass in spite of illustrations of population explosions like this one.[5] 

The belief in these alarming predictions were a key factor in liberalizing abortion laws worldwide,[6] instituting coercive family limitation programs including China’s infamous “one-child policy”[7] and demonizing large families.[8] They ignored and mocked other views, especially religious ones, in typical “great and spacious building” fashion, rejected the Lord’s proclamation that “the earth is full; there is enough and to spare” (D&C 104:17) and His ongoing commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 1:22, Moses 2:28)

1b - crowdedA crowded beach in China’s eastern Shandong province. Used in an article to illustrate overpopulation.[9] 

2 - Life expectancyAn unprecedented leap in worldwide life expectancy statistics after World War II was a major factor in increased population growth during the last 60 years. This fact was misused by the population control advocates to put babies in the womb or even infants in mortal peril.[10]

 3 - Death RateThe reduction in the death rate parallels the increase in longevity during our amazing modern era so filled with the blessings of heaven upon the earth. The standard units for this graph are deaths per thousand persons.[11]

Heading Instead toward Catastrophic Underpopulation?

Instead of a major catastrophe or extinction by overpopulation, our world has sustained such a dramatic drop in birth and fertility rates, especially in developed countries, that our modern welfare-state societies will likely implode with too few youth and working adults to support the elderly population. This probable catastrophe has been made even more likely with the huge jump in life expectancy at birth statistics.

3a - cowboy in monument valleyWith the pioneer perspective being more like this picture of a lone cowboy in Monument Valley than the crowded beach in China, perhaps we in the more rural western US may have a better understanding about available land, food production and other population related issues.[12]  

4 - Birth and DeathNote that worldwide birth rates have dramatically declined even faster than death rates and the difference between the two is estimated to be only five births per thousand more than deaths per thousand by 2050.

The results of the “well intended” “ends justify the means” measures thought to avoid the population explosion will more likely end up as a train wreck of a catastrophic underpopulation implosion.  This is probable especially with the doubling down on population control hysteria in popular books and movies like Inferno when the world fertility rate has already collapsed. The government endorsed population control measures encourage or force the breaking of the Lord’s commandments and make a mockery of God and his plan for His children. Remember Alma’s declaration: “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)

4a - 1985-runaway-train-poster1Will the world population story in the near future be like the movie “Runaway Train” heading toward underpopulation collapse?  

4b - Picture from movie runaway train

Scene from the 1985 action movie “Runaway Train.” A train has huge momentum similar to that of the forces of the world’s population trends. The train’s momentum or population momentum is not easily changed, even with a catastrophe such as a washed out bridge coming up soon on the tracks.[15]

Japan Underpopulation Implosion

Japan is the example to illustrate this serious problem. After World War II, Japan had a baby boom, but then legalized abortion, officially promoted family planning, demonized large families and now has a fertility rate of only 1.27 children per woman. 2.1 is needed to replace the population. Look through these charts that show why Japan is heading toward an underpopulation implosion.[16]

5 - Japan fertility rate Japan Fertility Rate: This chart shows the sharp drop in fertility rate to a very low unsustainable rate of 1.29 by the year 2001. Note that even with this dramatic shift, it takes many decades for the effects to work through the population, known as the “population-lag effect.”

5a - Japanese family

“The population of Japanese children aged up to 14, currently stands at 16.6 million but is shrinking at a rate of one every 100 seconds.”[17]

6 - Japan Life Expectancy

Japan Life Expectancy: Note how Japan experienced one of the greatest life expectancy jumps in the world and it is still going up. But it is also a double-edged sword. In a modern social-welfare state, the few workers left cannot possibly support the huge group of the aging population with all of the benefits to which they are “entitled” for an ever increasing number of retirement years. The remaining few workers also cannot fill the jobs needed for a prosperous economy.[18]

Please view this video from the Population Research Institute entitled “2.1 Kids: A Stable Population” that dramatizes the facts on Japan’s current situation represented in the charts shown in this article.

2.1 Kids: Stable Population

7 - Japan Aging Population -new 

Japan Age Groups: This chart shows the negative slope of the whole Japanese population beginning near 2000 and its correlation to the huge jump in the 65+ retirement age group and the extreme decrease in the youth population.[19]

Note that Japan was initially after the war rapidly increasing in population with a small retired population. Then the effects of the changes documented in the previous graphs began to work through the population and the large aging population groups began to retire sometime around 1980, also living longer than ever as retirees. The extremely low birth rate keeps the youth population percentage from recovering to help support the aging population. The fertility rate continues to fall and the trends continue, being very difficult to reverse.

Go to this excellent web site  where you can see a simulation of the different age groups in Japan’s population with data and predictions from 2000 to 2050. Start at 2000 and then hit the “play” button. Note how the male and female statistics of children under one year old continue to decrease and the age groups of the elderly 65 and older continue to increase while the total population moves rapidly downward from 127 million to 100 million. Go between the 2000’N button and the 2050’N button and see how the population becomes mainly elderly with the working population and the children becoming fewer and fewer.[20]

Europe, Asia, U.S. and Latin America Trends

Europe, Asia, the US, and even Latin America are also on track for similar outcomes as Japan.

7a - Fertility rate world map 2 

 This world map shows fertility rates throughout the world with the blue color indicating rates less than 2.0 children per woman. Looking at the area covered in blue and light blue, the trend is definitely toward underpopulation rather than overpopulation, especially for the developed world countries. The average world-wide fertility rate is at 2.47, essentially near the world replacement rate of 2.33 when including developing countries with more diseases and childhood mortality.[21]

Greece, for example, has a fertility rate of 1.5 today. The population under 15 is only 14% of the population today whereas the greater than 60 age group is already 26 percent and rising. The young Greeks cannot possibly support the aging population. Greece has one of the most liberal welfare states in Europe, or at least it does up to now, with the country on the verge of bankruptcy.[22]

The US now has a fertility rate just under the 2.1 child replacement level, even with opposition from groups with strong religious convictions that are opposed to population control, abortion and anti-family propaganda. The next chart shows the rapid decline from the baby boom era of 3.5 children per woman to less than the replacement level. Once again, the “population lag effect” or the effects of “population momentum” will take many years for the results of these population factors to fully affect the country.

8 - US Fertility Rate

The legalization of abortion in the early 1970’s plus the anti-population propaganda of the extreme population control groups certainly had a large effect on the fertility rate reduction in the US.

It is now below the replacement value of 2.1.[23]

Even Peru, a Catholic country that had a fertility rate of over six children per woman in 1950, now has a fertility rate of only 2.4 and is projected to decline to 1.8 in 2050. Once infant mortality decreases it is normal to see parents adjust down the number of children they bear because fewer will die in their childhood. But, with the ongoing worldwide population control propaganda and other government incentives to not have large families, the fertility rate continues to decline lower than the level to replace the children lost in childhood and Peru heads toward the same likely outcome as Greece or Japan.[24]

Revelation and Logic Support the Lord’s Assurance that “There is Enough and to Spare”

In the Doctrine and Covenants we read:

“I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. … For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.” (D&C 104:14, 17)

The scriptures proclaim that there is enough room on earth to accommodate God’s children that He will send to earth. Remember that He is in charge of sending spirits to earth for their second estate and when His children will continue their lives in the spirit world after death.

In the Book of Mormon, in one battle between the combined Nephite/Lamanite army and the Gadianton robbers, the prophet Mormon commented that “there never was known so great a slaughter among all the people of Lehi since he left Jerusalem.” (3 Nephi 4:11) Wars disrupt population prediction accuracy and any casual glance at the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Revelation can see predictions of wars that are coming. Another example: In spite of Abraham trying to get Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared if ten righteous could be found, the Lord finally had to destroy the cities of the plains when they had become ripened in iniquity.(Genesis 19:25, 29)

The Lord knows the plagues, wars and calamities that He has allowed and yet will allow to occur in this telestial world during this all-important second estate testing of His children. (D&C 1:17) He has a complete knowledge of the statistics and trends in every detail of the population that will be placed on the earth at any given time. And, importantly, whether on earth or in the spirit world, The Lord does not give up on anyone until the day of final judgment. In the end, the only ones He cannot save into a kingdom of glory are the sons of perdition. (D&C 76:109-112) He is the One who ultimately determines when a person is supposed to move between the physical and spiritual worlds via death.

Earth’s Current Population Could Fit in Texas

We can show that the current population of the earth can fit in single-family homes in an area just seven percent of the size of the United States. For example, if each family of four were given a 65 by 65 foot (1/10th acre) area for a small single-family home, all seven billion inhabitants of the earth at this time could squeeze into the 268,800 square miles of the state of Texas.[25]

9 - Texas Counties 

 Looking at the number of square feet in Texas, seven trillion, and the population of the earth, seven billion, we can see that there is indeed enough room for the world population to fit in Texas in small single family lots for each family of four persons.[26]

Selective Respect for Religion?

It seems to me to be ironic that such a great writer and author as Dan Brown would show such great respect to the Catholic Church doctrine described poetically by Dante and then summarily dismiss the Catholic Church doctrines on marriage and family as only the rantings of senile eighty-year-old priests. He goes to great length to respect the ordinances of the Catholic Church on the one hand but then dismisses any possible wisdom or inspiration in Catholic Church doctrine for bringing children into the world and sustaining the divinely appointed family unit. It reminds me of Korihor and his arguments about the “frenzied minds” of corrupt priests. (Alma 30:16, 31)

9a - Gordon B Hinckley First Presidency JS bldgIn 1995, the First Presidency, under President Gordon B. Hiinckley, and the Quorum of the Twelve published the “Proclamation on the Family.”

Words from Modern Prophets and Apostles

The Proclamation on the Family:

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”[27]

10 - Spencer W KimballSpencer W. Kimball 

From Spencer W. Kimball:

“The world can provide for growing population. Many people, some of them innocently caught up in the whirlpool of delusion errors, are worrying about the earth failing to provide for the oncoming generations. They take such means to influence the thinking of the people and repeat it so often that many of us were gullible and accepted it. We tend to believe what the world says. We often do not even ask what the Lord’s program is.”[28] 

11 - Ezra Taft BensonFrom Ezra Taft Benson:

“The precepts of men would have you believe that by limiting the population of the world, we can have peace and plenty. That is the doctrine of the devil.  Small numbers do not insure peace; only righteousness does. After all, there were only a handful of men on the earth when Cain interrupted the peace of Adam’s household by slaying Abel. On the other hand, the whole city of Enoch was peaceful; and it was taken into heaven because it was made up of righteous people.

“And so far as limiting the population in order to provide plenty is concerned, the Lord answered that falsehood in the Doctrine and Covenants when he said: For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.'(D&C 104:17)

“A major reason why there is famine in some parts of the world is because evil men have used the vehicle of government to abridge the freedom that men need to produce abundantly.True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate, through worldwide birth control, God’s purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to his spirit children are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine.They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.”[29] 

12 - Russell M NelsonFrom Russell M. Nelson

Elder Russell M. Nelson, world famous heart surgeon and scientist as well as an apostle, addressed these subjects in two of his talks: “Reverence for Life” and “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless”:[30]

Conference, April, 1985: “Reverence for Life”

“Approximately twenty-two days after the two cells have united, a little heart begins to beat. At twenty-six days the circulation of blood begins. Scripture declares that the life of the flesh is in the blood.’ (Lev. 17:11.) Abortion sheds that innocent blood.

“Another excuse some use to justify abortion relates to population control. Many in developing nations unknowingly ascribe their lack of prosperity to overpopulation. While they grovel in ignorance of God and his commandments, they may worship objects of their own creation (or nothing at all), while unsuccessfully attempting to limit their population by the rampant practice of abortion.

“I, the Lord, … built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide. … But it must needs be done in mine own way. … For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.” (D&C 104:14-17)

“Now, as a servant of the Lord, I dutifully warn those who advocate and practice abortion that they incur the wrath of Almighty God….

“Of those who shed innocent blood, a prophet declared: The judgments which [God] shall exercise … in his wrath [shall] be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.’ (Alma 14:11.)”

Ensign, October, 2008: “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless”

“As sons and daughters of God, we cherish life as a gift from Him. His eternal plan provides opportunities for His children to obtain physical bodies, to gain earthly experiences, and to realize their divine destinies as heirs of eternal life.”

“Man-made rules have now legalized that which has been forbidden by God from the dawn of time! Human reasoning has twisted and transformed absolute truth into sound-bite slogans that promote a practice that is consummately wrong.”

“Concern for the health of the mother is a vital one. But circumstances in which the termination of pregnancy is necessary to save the life of the mother are very rare, particularly where modern medical care is available. Another concern applies to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. This tragedy is compounded because an innocent woman’s freedom of choice was denied. In these circumstances, abortion is sometimes considered advisable to preserve the physical and mental health of the mother. Abortions for these reasons are also rare.

“When the controversies about abortion are debated, individual right of choice’ is invoked as though it were the one supreme virtue. That could only be true if but one person were involved. The rights of any one individual do not allow the rights of another individual to be abused. In or out of marriage, abortion is not solely an individual matter. Terminating the life of a developing baby involves two individuals with separate bodies, brains, and hearts. A woman’s choice for her own body does not include the right to deprive her baby of life-and a lifetime of choices that her child would make.”

Slaughter of the Innocents in Bethlehem

Elder James E. Talmage gives a vivid description of the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem in his book Jesus the Christ.

“Herod’s perfidy in directing the magi to return and report to him where the royal Infant was to be found, falsely professing that he wished to worship Him also, while in his heart he purposed taking the Child’s life, was thwarted by the divine warning given to the wise men as already noted. Following their departure, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.’

“In obedience to this command, Joseph took Mary and her Child, and set out by night on the journey to Egypt; and there the family remained until divinely directed to return. When it was apparent to the king that the wise men had ignored his instructions, he was exceedingly angry; and, estimating the earliest time at which the birth could have occurred according to the magis’ statement of the star’s appearing, he ruthlessly ordered the slaughter of all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under.’

“In this massacre of the innocents, the evangelist found a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s fateful voicing of the word of the Lord, spoken six centuries earlier and expressed in the forceful past tense as though then already accomplished: In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. ‘(Matthew 2:17, 18)”[31]

13 - slaughter of innocents 

This painting by 15th century artist Matteo di Giovanni depicts the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, considered to be the first martyrs of the Christian era.[32]

If our hearts are moved by the attempt by Herod to destroy Jesus, with relatively few babies involved in the sparsely populated Bethlehem area, we must not become callous to the millions and even billions of babies, in the womb and out, who have lost their beautiful lives in our day-many with the rationalization for such atrocities coming from the population control theories.  Please, read and ponder Elder Russell M. Nelson’s powerful words.

Questions to Ponder?

When Alma saw the faltering of the faith of the Nephites, he left his office as the Chief Judge and devoted himself full time to the ministry as High Priest over the Church of God (Alma 4:10, 16, 19).

He asked a series of questions to the Church members that caused them to reflect and renew their faith and commitment to the Gospel of Christ (Alma 5). Perhaps some questions might be well to contemplate today on this subject.

1.Are we familiar with the scriptures and the words of modern prophets and apostles relating to the population of the earth and the sacredness of life and the family?

2.Do we follow actual factual data from official sources and use predictions derived from that data as far as world population issues are concerned?

3.Do we realize that mathematical calculations support the Lord’s view that “The earth is full, there is enough and to spare?”

4.Do we give tacit approval to extreme population explosion predictions as valid reasons for forced abortions, infanticide and sterilizations in China?

5.Do we believe that destroying innocent life can ever be the pathway to happiness and prosperity or will it result in the judgments of God upon our society?

6.Do we have an answer for this question that may come to us at a gathering of family or friends: “What about the catastrophic population explosion so well depicted in the Dan Brown book Inferno and the movie starring Tom Hanks?”

Possible Answers:

a. Inferno’s answer to the catastrophic population explosion is forced extreme measures. Do you realize we are now experiencing instead a worldwide underpopulation implosion?”

b.Do you realize that record high life expectancy and very low worldwide birth rates are the factors that are the cause of the underpopulation iimplosion that is now happening throughout the world?”

c. “Official UN reports predict only nine billion people on earth in 2100. Is that overpopulation?”

d.”There are seven billion people on earth. The state of Texas contains seven trillion square feet. Each family of four could have a tenth of an acre single family lot. Is that overpopulation?”

e.”Did you know that predictions of massive starvation resulting from overpopulation have all failed to happen? Did you know that agricultural yields have increased dramatically in recent decades?

f.”Japan is declining in population from 128 million in 2004 to 100 million in 2050. Is that overpopulation?”

g.”Is the current United States fertility rate above or below the 2.1 children per woman replacement rate?”

h.Can the United States avoid economic collapse with the current birth rate and the large long-living retiring “baby boom” population?

Please click here to read the Footnotes