Greener fields yet

One of the 20th Century's great Americans has passed on

Norman Borlaug died Saturday.

When it comes to environmentalism, Norman Borlaug is one of the first names that pops into my head.

AMERICA has three living winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, two universally renowned and the other so little celebrated that not one person in a hundred would be likely to pick his face out of a police lineup, or even recognize his name. The universally known recipients are Elie Wiesel, who for leading an exemplary life has been justly rewarded with honor and acclaim, and Henry Kissinger, who in the aftermath of his Nobel has realized wealth and prestige. America's third peace-prize winner, in contrast, has been the subject of little public notice, and has passed up every opportunity to parley his award into riches or personal distinction. And the third winner's accomplishments, unlike Kissinger's, are morally unambiguous. Though barely known in the country of his birth, elsewhere in the world Norman Borlaug is widely considered to be among the leading Americans of our age.

Borlaug is an eighty-two-year-old plant breeder who for most of the past five decades has lived in developing nations, teaching the techniques of high-yield agriculture. He received the Nobel in 1970, primarily for his work in reversing the food shortages that haunted India and Pakistan in the 1960s. Perhaps more than anyone else, Borlaug is responsible for the fact that throughout the postwar era, except in sub-Saharan Africa, global food production has expanded faster than the human population, averting the mass starvations that were widely predicted -- for example, in the 1967 best seller Famine -- 1975! The form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths.

That was from a 1997 article in The Atlantic. Please compare what Dr. Borlaug accomplished with what usually passes for environmentalism. Instead of demanding that people make do with less, he delivered abundance. Instead of controlling people's lives, he freed them.

And for that, progressives in the West turned their back on Dr. Borlaug.

His memory is worth supporting.

He was what an American scientist should be, and he had a good dream. So here is the new yearly entry on my calendar.

<Norman Borlaug\deceased> Passing Day (Before)
Lived 25Mar1914 to 12Sep2009
agricultural scientist, humanitarian, father of the Green Revolution

He's going to be on my Before list this year.

— NeoWayland

Posted: Sun - September 13, 2009 at 01:35 PM  Tag

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