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Menings | Opinion > Briewe | Letters > SpeakEasy

Book review: Global Scream by Adriaan Reinecke

Peter Buchbaum - 2008-09-11

Global Scream* by Adriaan Reinecke

"Are you hearing Nature's global scream?" is the question posed by this new novel.

Veteran South African biologist from Stellenbosch University, Adriaan Reinecke, is probably best known in scientific circles for his chapters in books and scientific papers in international journals (see for example ScienceDirect on the web). His research papers report results of his experiments on the effects of dangerous chemicals on the living environment.
In this his first novel he attempts to integrate science and fiction by highlighting the risks of environmental pollutants. Science is given a fictional quasi-thriller treatment here, as we meet Steven Forbes, http://www.mostlyfiction.com/excerpts/daydandelion.htm , expert behavioural biologist who turns investigator for the government after doctors discovered strange behaviour patterns and low sperm counts among young men on a remote Indian ocean island called Mahunga. When his close friend Solly, an eminent meteorologist, is gunned down mercilessly in the street in broad daylight, Forbes vows to his young widow not to rest until he has found the killers. Forbes didn't realise how the strange phenomena on the faraway island would tie in with his friend's death.

Forbes investigates after being put on the case by typically noxious bureaucrats. Accompanied by his beautiful and brainy girlfriend Nancy, he visits the island and unravels the mystery in small chunks after realising that his friend Solly was killed because he discovered strange weather phenomena in the Indian ocean, the result of human interference with ocean floor hydrothermic vents. The interference resulted in increased underwater volcanic eruptions affecting the climate of Mahunga Island where the behavioural problems among young men were diagnosed. The symptoms resemble those of schizophrenia. Clearly, control of weather patterns through environmental manipulation would enable the controller to influence the lives and livelihoods of whole communities, comprehensively monopolising governments. This is what the villains of the story have in mind.

Reinecke does a good job of showing how the current international threat of terrorism and the resultant fear could be used to hold the world to ransom. One of the key plot elements is the threat posed by a weather manipulation conspiracy.

This very readable book aspires to be a thriller, and succeeds. It relies heavily on modern-day scientific discoveries, but is too realistic to be called science fiction. It deals with harsh realities of modern times. Forbes is up against two formidable villains who want to rule the world and the physical and mental challenges he has to face are enormous. His grief for the loss of his dearest friend is so immense that he, an otherwise rational scientist, becomes almost obsessed with finding the perpetrators. To be sure, he has to do a fair amount of sleuthing and running hither and yon (mainly Mahunga Island, Geneva in Switzerland, South Africa and back), brushing shoulders with corrupt island authorities and FBI operatives.

The story highlights human involvement in affecting global warming and how the resultant changes in weather patterns could affect nature and have a mental impact, especially on vulnerable individuals. The author comes up with a very credible explanation for the strange behavioural patterns that emerged among young men on the island. Their vulnerability is a harsh reality of their hereditary make-up in a world awash with chemical contaminants.

This is a fast-moving, action-packed story with many surprises that keep the reader's unwavering attention. The unexpected violent responses of the otherwise calm victims are surprising but well motivated: they lose control after being wronged and pushed "over the edge".

Forbes and Nancy succeed in their adventure to save the world from the terrorist threat, but the island of Mahunga and its inhabitants are destroyed in spectacular fashion by the volcanic eruptions the villains have triggered by their sea floor explosions. Between the lines there is a clear warning that global warming does not only hold a physical threat but could also have an enormous psychological impact. The "screams" of nature, depicted so cleverly in this book, can affect the minds of people and can contribute to the triggering of unexpected responses.

Steven Forbes is a tough man with a sharp mind. His exploits make Global Scream a very entertaining and absorbing novel, dealing with the very relevant topic of global warming and sustainability of life on earth.

*Available online from Trafford.com or Amazon.ca

Global warming: How will it affect us?

In South Africa a temperature increase of 1 to 3°C and a reduction of 5 to 10 percent in mean annual precipitation is predicted if the current level of atmospheric CO2 were to double in the future. Another predicted consequence of climate change in South Africa will be an alteration of the geographical ranges of up to 44 percent of plant and 80 percent of animal species.

- Van Jaarsveld & Chown (2001)

Why is it happening?
Are we interfering with nature? Is it deliberate?
What are the consequences for us and for the earth?
How will it affect humans mentally and physically?
Are we prepared to face them?
What can and should we do about it?
Does it really matter if the worst effects will be felt only several generations from now?

Several of these questions are posed and addressed in a gripping story by a South African author who has just published his first novel.

Global Scream is the story of behavioural biologist Steven Forbes, whose very close meteorologist friend dies violently after he has discovered strange weather patterns in the Indian Ocean. It turns out that deliberate environmental manipulation is taking place. Human interference in nature is at the root of it all and is causing climate changes with devastating consequences for the population of the small Indian Ocean island of Mahunga, where a syndicate has been experimenting with deep sea volcanoes and thermal vents on the ocean floor. Intense cyclones, increasing droughts, crop failures and even mental illnesses are occurring. The terrorist syndicate has discovered that by controlling weather patterns they can exert power over and control governments for their own benefit.