Saturday, March 14, 2015

Norman Borlaug

The Greatest American Hero and his call to mankind.

Dr. Normal Borlaug was a hunger fighter, “The man who saved a billion lives”. After changing the emphasis of his education from forestry to plant pathology and genetics, he tasked himself to the production of new varieties and methods to feed the burgeoning population of the world. Throughout his life he worked to improve wheat and later rice crops, with new high yield, disease resistant varieties. These new varieties paired with intensive farming techniques lead to the “Green Revolution”. Dr. Borlaug sought opportunities to stave off starvation in nations with exponential population growth. He sought after alliances with governments and organizations to directly address and apply solutions to starvation.
In 1970 Dr. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014, the one hundred anniversary of his birth a statute was unveiled in the US Capitol. His work has had tremendous impact on mankind. When discussing his achievements many people call him the “Greatest man to have ever lived”.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, Dr. Borlaug challenged the governments of the world to address the “Population Monster” which could outpace his and successors work.  He stated his work gave mankind a few decades to stave off hunger but it must be paired with population control.
My father was born in 1899 the world population was 1.6 billion humans.  I was born in 1952 the population was approximately 2.6 billion. I graduated from high school the same year Dr. Borlaug received his peace prize, the human population was 3.7 billion individuals. Today we have exponential growth to 7.2 billion persons. There is a finite amount of arable land. Our passions may exceed the science and technology as applied by Norman Borlaug’s peers.
 I was once told a family can receive all the yearly nutrition its needs from the milk of one cow and a couple acres of potatoes, is this my grandchildren’s future?
Responsible population control was discussed openly in the 70’s and I hear little on this “time bomb” topic today, population growth demonstrates the fact.  This issue is surrounded by hot topics: contraception, abstinence, and reduction of infant mortality, abortion, status of women, sterilization, legislation, and family planning. We need to readdress this issue again as individuals, as cultures as societies. We need to learn from what has been practiced currently in some nations and find workable solutions. Dr. Borlaug’s efforts, a hunger fighter’s efforts, should not go in vain.