The name Norman Borlaug may not be familiar to many of us, but he is credited with saving a billion lives. Dr Borlaug is known as the “the father of the Green Revolution” – but not the “treehugger” sort of green revolution – an agricultural one.
Among his many efforts, he developed high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties along with refined agricultural techniques; greatly improving food security in many nations during the 1950’s.
Dr. Borlaug was recognized with the Nobel Prize in 1970 for his efforts. His work wasn’t without its critics; however he seemed to be clear on his purpose at the time.
According to the document covering Dr. Borlaug’s Nobel nomination, his goal was to provide “a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation” and a breathing space to deal with the “population monster”. I’ve seen references elsewhere the breathing space he had in mind in 1970 was just 40 years.
In 1970, the world’s population was 3.7 billion.
According to the U.S. Government’s world population clock (at the time of writing), we now number in excess of 6.9 billion. Short of some disaster of unimaginable proportions, we will hit 7 billion before the year is over.
We appear to have not used the breathing space Dr. Borlaug’s work provided too well and the population monster is by no means sated. While some developed countries have experienced a slowing down of population growth, the standard of living in those nations is such that the resources needed to sustain it are far more than is needed for survival, or even to thrive.
Some nations are grossly overpopulated while others have fewer people, but have the same overall, or worse, environmental impact. The planet just can’t cope with the demands we place upon it.
Nature has ways of dealing with populations that get out of control – disease and famine are the most common methods of restoring balance. Perhaps something like “Captain Trips” – the superflu in Stephen King’s book The Stand – is just around the corner for us. We may not need anything that dramatic as climate change and all its associated ill effects may be enough to do the job; albeit a little more slowly.
Our perceived right to have children and/ or to have a certain standard of living may be the ink we use to write our collective suicide note.
If you are considering having children, or having more; there is much to consider.
Population management – ultimate greening
Visualizing global population