Hades is Rolling in his Grave… err, Underworld

“Just 12 years after the arrival of the 6 billionth individual on the planet in 1999, humanity will greet the 7 billionth arrival this month. The world population continues its rapid ascent, with roughly 75 million more births than deaths each year. The consequences of a world crowded with 7 billion people are enormous. And unless the world population stabilizes during the 21st century, the consequences for humanity could be grim.” – Jeffrey D. Sachs is director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University.

At its core, Tattoo of Your Name…  is about the ghostly world of Styx that employs Charons to ferry human souls from earth to the afterlife. Humans cannot see Charons, even so they can appear in any form when they finally come for us–in the flesh, ghost, demon, angel, etc. They hardly ever show up with a cloak and scythe like their 15th century descendants.

You see, humans are winning the battle against death. This win thrusts Styx into turmoil because earth is growing more and more populated and the death rate is declining.

So when I saw this “With 7 billion on earth, a huge task before us” on CNN, I couldn’t help but think about my antagonist, Head Charon Marin, who is really just Hades with a new name and a sexier appearance.

Head Charon Marin’s legions of Charons can’t keep up on their soul quotas. Humans are evading them with continuous improvements in medicine, hygiene, and declincing wars. Typically, the Charons have Scriveners who put Deathmarks on the humans so they can find those elusive souls. (Deathmarks are sort of like honing devices that attrack grim visitors.) But, there’s only one Scrivener–Ollie Dormier–left and now soon to be 7 BILLION humans on planet earth??!!

Holy Hades! That’s a tall order for one Scrivener who avoids her job as it is.

Marin’s Charons are pissed about their workload. And to top it all off, they’re underpaid. They want to speak directly to their leader about the problem, but he doesn’t want to speak to them. Overpopulation–not the voices of his reapers–is the root of the Head Charon Marin’s cause. But this isn’t new news. It’s no secret Hades to the ancient Greeks sought balance. He wasn’t a bad guy. He had a job to do and a quota to keep that he feared would tip the world off balance. Just like Hades, Head Charon Marin has anxiety about the world’s swelling population. And he shudders at the following projection:

“We face an urgent task: to adopt more sustainable technologies and lifestyles, and work harder to achieve a stable population of some 8 billion or so by mid-century, rather than the current path, which could easily carry the world to more than 10 billion people by 2100.”

Wow. 10 billion. That’s a lot of souls. And a lot of angry grim reapers that Marin is going to have to answer too… if they can find him.