Cheer up. Things aren’t all bad.
We cannot let this day pass without commenting on the passing of a remarkable human being who directed his ingenuity, energy and commitment to the cause of feeding the world’s growing population and thereby avoiding the human catastrophe predicted by so many experts of less than hopeful bent.
Having quit a fine job at DuPont, Borlaug began working in Mexico in 1944 to increase grain yields and bring food to the poor. By 1956 that country’s wheat production had doubled to the point of making it self-sufficient.
He won the Nobel peace prize in 1970 for basically precipitating the “Green Revolution,” which resulted in global grain production outpacing population growth, saving millions of lives. He was a researcher and a man of action. He was always in the fields checking on his experimental crops in places such as India and Africa.
“The famines and huge mortality that had been predicted for the second half of the 20th century never came to pass,” noted the Economist in its laudatory obituary on Borlaug.
Moreover, as Gregg Easterbrook has observed, his techniques of high-yield agriculture avoided deforestation on a planetary scale since fewer acres are needed to feed more people. And his modern agricultural techniques have lead to lower population growth since they allow for a higher premium on education rather than “muscle power” as the key to family success.
He was always looking over his shoulder at what he called the “Population Monster,” which some find puzzling, a sign of pessimism belied by his own experience. On the other hand, even though human populations are crashing in Europe, Russia and Japan, there will be strong growth in many other parts of the world for many years before peaking at 10 billion. These people must also be fed. The genetic research of the kind pursued by Norman Borlaug will be of the utmost importance for years to come.
Another bit of good news comes from Switzerland where voters defeated a proposal to appoint lawyers for animals with 80 percent voting “No” on the referendum. For this, and so much else, we give thanks this Earth Day.
Evidently, this idea was based on a system already in place in the canton of Zurich. In fact, one defendant-fisherman there was hauled into court there for landing a 22-pound pike that had put up a fight for 10 minutes, as reported last month by Deborah Ball of the Wall Street Journal. Her fishy story was headlined, “Scales of Justice.”
I can’t make this stuff up. Life is stranger than fiction,
The pike was represented in the case by Antonine Goetschel, the official animal lawyer for the canton. He got into the case after animal welfare (rights?) groups filed a complaint for animal cruelty against an amateur angler.
“It is this Hemingway thinking,” said lawyer Goetschel. “Why should this be legal when other animals have to be slaughtered in a humane way?” “If you treat fish like objects in a computer game, their dignity is hurt.” Fortunately, he lost the case.
Back on earth there have been a number of pleasant developments which, in fairness, have drawn some decent coverage in the media which normally gravitate toward mostly depressing story lines on environmental matters.
A front-page story in the Washington Post last week proclaimed that “Chesapeake blue crabs are back in the black.” The crabs, in decline for a decade, “are in the middle of an extraordinary comeback,” wrote David A. Fahrenfold. “The estuary’s crab population has more than doubled in two years.” Maryland and Virginia officials had set strict limits on the crab harvest in 2008, targeting females for particular protection
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?