Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Man Who Saved a Planet II

The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, passed away today at the ripe-old age of 95. Many don't know who he is. I recommend reading up on him through the links offered on my first Borlaug post, found here. Economist Steven Horwitz on the passing:
The man who saved countless millions, if not billions, of lives as the father of the Green Revolution has died at 95. If you've never heard of Borlaug, you should have. And the fact that you haven't, and that the media pay orders of magnitude more attention to dead politicians of all parties who achieved their fame by killing and impoverishing about as many of our fellow humans, is one of the tragedies of our day.

Hopefully the advances that Borlaug's work made possible will not be lost in a rising tide of radical environmentalist criticisms. The Green Revolution wasn't perfect, but no other 20th century event did more for the betterment of humanity on balance. Think of it this way: Borlaug's legacy is the counter-balance to the state-led violence of the century. Add up the millions killed by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Pol Pot. Add to that the millions killed in WW I and WW II and all the rest of the wars of the last century. Borlaug's work saved at least as many lives as all of those "leaders" and politicians slaughtered. If the term "social justice" has any meaning, Borlaug and the Green Revolution did more for it than any political activists by balancing the century's scales of life-and-death. If his more radical critics have their way, they will condemn millions to the poverty and starvation that his legacy saved them from.

In a just world, people like Borlaug would be the subject of hours of media commentary and coverage and special commemorative issues of Time or Newsweek while politicians got a cursory obit notice on the back page of the local rag.

That is not our world, sad to say, but as you sit down to your next meal, take a moment to pause and reflect on the life of a man who made it possible for a large hunk of humanity to go to bed tonight not worrying about where their next meal would come from. Contributions to humanity do not get any more praiseworthy than that.

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