A Tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug and Man’s Capacity to Shape Nature

Norman_BorlaugSeptember 12th should be a global day of mourning. For that is the day that one of mankind’s greatest heroes and benefactors passed away, though barely a whisper of his passing has been heard since the weekend. Each one of us who is glad to be alive should find a way to commemorate the life of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who died Saturday at the age of 95. Dr. Borlaug is the father of the Green Revolution. “Green” here refers not to the environmental movement, but instead to the overflowing cereal crops that swept the world in the 1960s. While environmentalists warned of impending doom from worldwide starvation, Dr. Borlaug silently worked to develop high-yield, short-strawed, disease-resistant wheat through his research of genetics, plant breeding, and soil science. And in doing so, he has saved hundreds of millions worldwide from starvation over the years.

Despite Dr. Borlaug’s monumental success, environmentalists never supported his work. Why? Because Borlaug’s entire career was predicated on the idea that mankind can—and should—find ways to modify and engineer the materials present in nature to our advantage. While environmentalists may seem to be in favor of making the Earth a better place to live, they consistently advocate against things that improve our welfare. They support limiting the freedom of individuals and companies in countless ways, including how we use our land and energy, and even whether scientists like Dr. Borlaug should be allowed to develop and grow “unnatural” plants with life-saving potential. In short, they insist that man be forced to adapt to nature. But whether it be diseases prevented by vaccines, blackouts solved by atomic power, or food shortages solved by genetically modified food, time and again we have been shown that man survives—not by adapting himself to nature—but by adapting nature to himself.

Dr. Borlaug’s life’s work is a shining example of this principle.

Click here to read one of the few other tributes written about Dr. Borlaug’s life over the last few days.

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