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Biotech Earth

Father of Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, Dies at 95 227

Posted by timothy
from the a-billion-here-a-billion-there dept.
countincognito writes "Norman Borlaug, a genuinely remarkable man and the father of the Green Revolution in agriculture, has died of cancer at his Dallas home aged 95. His life's work on developing high-yield, disease-resistant crops has been credited with having saved an estimated one billion people from famine, and one billion hectares of forest and rainforest from being cleared for agricultural production."
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Father of Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, Dies at 95

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  • Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluesatin (1350681) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:07PM (#29406731)

    And probably now heralded by most 'green' supporters as some sort of horrific monster that messed with nature to create these crops.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otis wildflower (4889) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:10PM (#29406739) Homepage

    http://www.openmarket.org/2007/10/23/cockburns-cockamamie-slur-on-norman-borlaug/ [openmarket.org]

    So many idiots, so few plastic shredders...

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:13PM (#29406757)

    A bit of an emendation:

    His life's work on developing high-yield, disease-resistant crops and giving them away for free...

    That's what fundamentally made him a good recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He made high-yield new seeds, and encouraged farmers to use them, spread them, replant them in subsequent years, etc., giving them greater food security and freedom. He didn't, to the contrary, patent them, prohibit [monsanto.com] replanting seeds in subsequent years, and so on. That would have still increased crop yields, but would've made farmers dependent on Borlaug to buy seeds every year, which was the opposite of his intention.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:16PM (#29406779)
    And yet he undoubtedly saved millions from starvation through his work. The green nutters won't even think about it. They probably have no idea what was done to produce these crops - they wouldn't even care.

    Scientists and engineers help find answers and solutions, radicals and reactionaries just complain. When they have a better solution for feeding the world, I'll take them seriously.

  • by plopez (54068) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:17PM (#29406787) Journal

    Sooner or later you hit a limiting resource. Land, water, energy etc. A better investment would have birth control and birth control education.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:18PM (#29406797) Journal

    Hey, if you're so worried about overpopulation, I'm sure you'll take one for the team and off yourself right now, won't you?

    -jcr

  • by Courageous (228506) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:23PM (#29406851)

    First world nations tend to have negative population growth rates, except by immigration influx, or population growth amongst recent-generation immigrants.

    C//

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:31PM (#29406917)
    Yes, but once we reach this goal, it will certainly be better to produce the necessary amount of food using just the necessary minimum of arable land. In other words, just because we still don't have good batteries for our electric cars does not necessarily mean that we will stop improving our electric motors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:32PM (#29406929)

    Why is this the first line of attack anytime the subject of overpopulation comes up? There are at least a few ways to try to reduce the number of humans expected to be inhabiting this planet years from now other than "offing people". Contraception in poorer areas? Raising the standard of living to statistically lower the number of offspring parents have? Just jumping to "OMG OVERPOPULATION KILL YOURSELF LOLROFL!!@#" doesn't add anything to the debate.

    Then again, if they're advocating committing mass murder or genocide for the sake of conserving resources...

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:40PM (#29406983) Homepage


    Sooner or later you hit a limiting resource. Land, water, energy etc.

    Which is the same theory Thomas Malthus [wikipedia.org] had in the early 1800s. Fortunately for us he turned out to be wrong.

    A better investment would have birth control and birth control education.

    People don't have a lot of children because they don't understand what birth control is. People have a lot of children in high mortality rate parts of the world to guarantee some of them will live to adulthood. Part of the mortality rate is from malnutrition. Birth control and education are also part of the solution. But frankly nobody is going to be taking birth control and extending their educations when they can't feed themselves.

  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:42PM (#29407001) Homepage
    The invention, by Norman Borlaug, of disease-resistant crops only delayed the symptoms of the core problem: overpopulation.

    Without his contribution, one billion people would have died of famine, and one billion hectares of forest would have been cleared. In other words, the ecosystem could only sustain one billion fewer people, and the existing population would have cleared one billions hectares of forest.

    With his contribution, the ecosystem now sustains that additional 1 billion: the total number of mouths is 6 billion. There is now not a need to clear that additional billion hectares of forest.

    However, the population continues to grow. It will reach such a size that famine will kill one billion people and that hunger will force the clearing of an additional billion hectares of forest.

    Overpopulation is the root cause of many problems: energy shortage, famine, global warming, etc. The 4 horsemen of the apocalypse are approaching. We can already hear the hooves of the horses.

  • by bcmm (768152) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:43PM (#29407013)

    Great, glad for this "green revolution." But:

    What about the massive agricultural pollution that results?

    Species depletion owing to use of too much land?

    "High-yield, disease-resistant crops" reduce both of these.

    Global warming from all the carbon?

    Which carbon?

    Even more, a population freight train we can't stop?

    You think global famine would be a good way to stop it?

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 32771 (906153) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:44PM (#29407019) Journal

    >radicals and reactionaries just complain

    Well fed people are notoriously difficult subjects to be dragged into a revolution.
    So they don't just complain, they are worried about their loss of power.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:49PM (#29407053) Homepage

    Wars are caused by 3 things, the top being food. One man actually was able to remove one cause that's plagued mankind for the last 20,000 years with science. For his credit, he even went as far as to push it into Africa. Unfortunately, when you have a vastly unstable region with no government control you can only do so much.

    Nah this guy is one of histories greatest individuals. If only the ignorant actually understood what he actually achieved, and what high-yield crop farming could do, they'd figure out that Africa could feed the world, and you wouldn't even need to worry about hunger anywhere.

    Than again, maybe you're one of those assholes who believe in positive population checks. You know, all war is good war, all diseases that wipeout mankind are good, and all starvation that keeps the peasants dead are good.

  • by Weedhopper (168515) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:56PM (#29407101)

    You have it exactly backwards, my friend.

    The population is already there.

    Norman Borlaug, by increasing crop yield per area REDUCED the amount of land used for agriculture. This also has the effect of REDUCING deforestation, thereby INCREASING atmospheric carbon loading. By increasing the pest resistance of the crop REDUCED agricultural pollution.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:56PM (#29407103)
    I wonder if that's true, though. I don't think many green protesters have a vested interest in keeping the world hungry. I suspect it's more that they want a cause to advocate, an issue to get angry about. It's much easier to get angry at a single identifiable corporation than it is to be angry at the faceless global economics that spawns hunger in the first place.

    Furthermore I suspect that it's not them trying to protect their own power, but rather their attempt to feel powerful - to feel like they can make a difference when faced with forces that really are beyond their control. Demonstrate, hold a picket, get a law passed, go home and enjoy the high standard of living they now don't have to feel so guilty about because they scored a point for the team.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:02PM (#29407155)

    ... is no more.

    Future generations will scarcely believe that such a man walked the earth.

  • by mangu (126918) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:03PM (#29407157)

    ...overpopulation. The Earth had certain checks and balances to keep us in line for a reason.

    There are more human ways to control overpopulation. Limited food supplies is the way it works in nature, but we humans should use our intelligence.

    Dr. Borlaug himself was aware of the overpopulation problem, but that's something for politicians and religious leaders to solve, a scientist should do his best to alleviate human suffering, even if it should create other problems.

  • by Threni (635302) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:04PM (#29407173)

    > There is no such thing as overpopulation that can't be solved by re-engineering our cities/factories and changing our lifestyles.

    I'm not sure how you solve the problem of the estimated population of the earth in, say, 200 years if it continues increasing at the current rate. Quite apart from questions about the source of food and energy, packing more and more people into towns and cities is going to produce quite a lot of social problems when there is no countryside to escape from all the noise and pollution. Still, I'm sure science has the answer - perhaps MIT will come up with a jacket which incorporates a nuclear reactor and a prison.

  • by dbet (1607261) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:05PM (#29407175)
    By that logic, saving any life is just delaying the inevitable since you don't actually make them immortal.

    Everything that makes life better for more people is only delaying the inevitable, that doesn't mean it isn't good or isn't worthy of recognition.
  • by bkpark (1253468) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:09PM (#29407201) Homepage

    Sooner or later you hit a limiting resource. Land, water, energy etc. A better investment would have birth control and birth control education.

    I don't know about you, but sooner or, for example, 200 years later does seem like a big difference.

    I certainly wouldn't be alive today if Malthusian prediction came true in his time, and I personally might go through a lot of hardship (even in U.S. high food cost has its prices) today if it hadn't been for the Green Revolution.

    And who knows? Maybe if we delay "the inevitable" long enough we can leave this rock and find resources in far flung places. I suppose then some wise guy will say that the free energy of the Universe is limited but I guess there's just something about naysayers.

  • by MaizeMan (1076255) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:15PM (#29407231) Homepage
    1. Borlaug's wheat wasn't GM. He was saving hundred of million of people in the 1960s. GM crops weren't developed for another 30 years.
    2. Seeds aren't organic. It's what you do to the them after you plant them that makes food organic or conventional.
    3. Ask any of the Indian cotton pickers, who despite living on less than a dollar a day won't pick non-GM cotton because of the huge amount of pesticides they're exposed to, if they don't want GM crops.
    4. Not having anything to eat (called starvation) has been proven by scientists to be bad for your health. Borlaug's wheat wasn't more nutritious, it produced more food on the same land, so people who otherwise would have starved didn't.
    5. Most of current GM crops don't increase yield (though there's really cool stuff coming out over the next five years). BT crops reduce the use of toxic insecticides. Herbicide resistance crops let us switch from more toxic herbicides like atrazine to less toxic ones like glyphosate and also promote no-till agriculture which reduces the erosion of the top soil we'll need if we ever want to feed our grandchildren.

    In conclusion, you seem to know nothing about these topics (food and agriculture and genetic engineering). If you're interested, educate yourself, I wish more people were engaged. Otherwise don't be surprised if no one takes you seriously.
  • by 32771 (906153) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:16PM (#29407237) Journal

    The checks and balances are still in place and killing an irritating voice won't change anything.

    The problem is that antropomorphosizing earth and nature through giving them political tools like "checks and balances" doesn't really shed any light on the real problem that not all people have access to the education/knowledge that puts them in control of how many kids they will have.

    There is nothing wrong about recognizing natures limits and living accordingly I would say.

    What might arrise from using his particularly unfitting words is that some people may go ahead and enforce the checks and balances before "mother nature" does it, much like your need to keep the idiot count low.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:17PM (#29407247)

    "Nice straw man argument used to attack environmentalists"

    Bullshit. Norman Borlaug was attacked by these (self proclaimed) environmentalists from the moment his innovations started saving millions lives. From the wikiedpia entry:

    "...Of environmental lobbyists he stated, "some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things""

  • by shawb (16347) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:19PM (#29407261)
    On a basic level you are right, but that is not the whole picture. Indeed, a misguided but well intentioned "caretaker" providing food for a feral cat colony will indeed be causing greater suffering than they alleviate as the queens are able to have more and larger litters. This leads to extreme levels of competition for all other resources and the rampant spread of disease. However, there are more nuanced features of population dynamics that have to be considered. When there is a low chance of offspring surviving to reproduction, organisms (including people) tend to have MORE offspring, rather than fewer. In fact, they will have tend to have offspring at a rate that is greater than that which is necessary to maintain population size, because otherwise in the long run you would likely become a genetic dead end. Having this increased birth rate leads to more population stress, leading to lowered rates of survival to breeding age, thus birth rate is increased via breeding earlier and more often. This leads to dramatic boom cycles, followed by bust cycles when the local environment's production capacity is temporally exceeded. These bust/boom cycles, in turn, lead to even higher birthrates per breeding female... and so on.

    But, by altering the local environment to increase the chances of an individual offspring making it to adulthood, technological societies reduce the dependence on high birth rate to maintain a genetic lineage. Increased access to nutritional food, clean water, and basic health care will increase survivorship leading to a short lived population boom, but at this time the perceived value of an individual life is increased somewhat. The key here is allowing some level of self interest where a person can pursue goals which are not merely survival oriented, but for the long term betterment of themselves, and thus society.

    Our ability to manipulate our environment such that a literally supernatural proportion of children survive to adulthood, and thus the care this affords us to put into each individual child, allows human beings to place an extraordinarily high value on an individual life: contrary to the opinion that many have of humans being a violent species, our rate of intraspecific killing is about 1/1000th that of the average animal. This lower rate of person on person killing of course leads to higher value of human life, so more care put into an individual child and therefore lower birth rates. As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is to the point that most Westernized societies actually have negative internal population growth (I.E. death rate minus birth rate) and population sizes are only increasing due to immigration from poorer places with higher population growth.
  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:23PM (#29407287)

    ... so that they can keep a diseased population in Africa, which now they can use to guilt-trip Americans and citizens of other developed nations into providing funds to their pet projects

    Citation needed.

  • by VJ42 (860241) * on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:37PM (#29407379)

    I'm not sure how you solve the problem of the estimated population of the earth in, say, 200 years if it continues increasing at the current rate.

    People were famously worrying [wikipedia.org] about overpopulation 200 years ago, I'm sure that 200 years in the future, we won't have run into a Malthusian Catastrophe, but people will still be worrying that we might.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#29407439)
    I apologize for not being clear... I was the author of the second anonymous coward post, not the original. I in no way endorse the views of the first, and understand your sentiment in your response to them. Feeding hungry people should never be denigrated. Nonetheless, jumping to the "just kill yourself if you think the world is overpopulated" line of attack doesn't really contribute anything to the conversation. The best way to fight ignorance isn't always to ridicule; sometimes, clarity of argument and thought goes a long way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:54PM (#29407509)
    Perhaps people are tired of those in the "green" movement giving their leaders a pass for flying on private jets and having huge homes while those same "greens" bitch at them because they dare have more than one child or because they drive a car. Al Gore uses more energy in 2 days than the typical family of 4 does in a year and no one calls him on it. When it comes time to have a "Green" meeting he doesn't teleconference he fly's a private jet.
  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:30PM (#29407751)
    Which is rather smart on behalf of Finland. The middle and upper class of the country might gripe at the higher taxes, but what's really important? Letting the wealthier folks blow their money on SUVs and oversized houses or making sure their people don't become drowned by a flood of immigrants.
  • by scourfish (573542) <scourfish@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:48PM (#29407843)

    Beyond that point, the effect of the "green revolution" has simply been new population growth until disease, environmental destruction, famine, and war limit population size again.

    War, disease, and population growth happen regardless. If people are farming just to eat, they can't afford any sort of education, entertainment, or intellectual stimulation; but guess what form of recreation is free? Likewise, people who are well fed and don't have to spend their entire life just trying to grow some food to stay alive, have the time and resources for the above things; most importantly, education. You can say "well, they should have brought education/birth control before you brought food" all they want, but realistically, if people are starving, they aren't going to care about what you say in those regards because they're too busy trying find something to fill the void and hunger pang; in fact, they just might kill you for your sandwich if you had one. It's called desperation.

    Worse yet, a lot of the techniques of the "green revolution" are unsustainable, have caused social upheaval, and have cause traditional, sustainable methods to disappear.

    Overall, we're worse off with these methods than we would be otherwise.

    Traditional methods disappear because they're terribly inefficient. Subsistence farming is a terrible way to live, and I'd rather have a soulless, mechanical, factory farm supplying food to a group than having the population uneducated because they don't have time for any other sort of education, entertainment, or intellectual stimulation.

    Overall, we're worse off with these methods than we would be otherwise.

    I fail to see hundreds of millions of people suffering from starvation to be "better off otherwise"

  • Ok Malthus Jr (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:30PM (#29408191)

    You first then. If you really believe overpopulation is the problem, then how about you do what you can to solve it and off yourself? After all, the fact that you have Internet access and time to mess around on Slashdot shows that you are privileged, you live in an industrial nation and use more resources than many in the world, so you'll do more good.

    Don't want to kill yourself? Then let's not hear how bad someone is who worked to keep others alive. If you think it is ok for you to stick around, you don't have the right to hate on others for wishing to do the same.

    Then there's your idiotic GMO rant. Never mind that total factual inaccuracy (with corresponding lack of support) there is the fact that as Pauli said "That's not right. It's not even wrong." Borlaug's work did not start with GMOs, it was with cross breeding and the like, introducing new strains to harsh areas. If you oppose selective breeding too, well then you are going to find it hard to eat anything. Next to nothing we eat, not even "organic" foods haven't been engineered in that fashion. It has been going on for over a century in a systematic way, and long before that in a less precise way.

    So tell you what, if you aren't interested in putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, and removing yourself and your resource usage, how about you go and live in a developing country for a while. I don't mean visit one and stay in a hotel, I mean go live a subsistence lifestyle. Go live without power, running water and so on for a bit. Live where your ability to eat depends on what you can grow or kill. See how things are. Then see if maybe your opinion on people like Dr. Borlaug changes a bit.

    I get more than a little annoyed with people who live privileged lives bitching about those trying to help people without. STFU and enjoy your nice life. That, or prove you are serious about overpopulation being the real problem and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in that regard. But don't hate on those that disagree with you, and just want to make things better for everyone.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:34PM (#29408217)

    More like billions.

    Borloug has to be the most influential and under-appreciated man who has ever lived and most will never know or care, because he doesn't have a sex-tape, play basketball or football, or star in movies.

    Borloug has not only been on my list of heroes for a very long time, but has been on my list of "guys who will die in the next decade or two during my lifetime that I am dreading."

    The world could never possibly thank Borloug enough. If anyone deserves his own holiday, it's this man. If anyone deserves statues and his face on currency and battleships named after him. It's this man.

    That such an amazing man who contributed so much in his life died not of old age, but of *cancer* is evidence that there can be no great deity out there watching over everything. If any man deserved a peaceful, painless, quick passing it was this man.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:45PM (#29408289) Journal

    Personally, I have no issue at all with Al Gore spending his money as he sees fit. His hypocrisy doesn't bother me much, either. It's when governments use his line of crap as a basis for misanthropic policies that I have a problem.

    -jcr

  • Re:Not a great man (Score:2, Insightful)

    by otis wildflower (4889) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:46PM (#29408297) Homepage

    The so called green revolution if anything had no net impact on global hunger and starvation as it simply does not address the core cause: overpopulation.

    OK then, kill yourself, do your bitch Gaia a favor.

    Oh, did you mean just poor brown short people should die/never be born then?

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ralphbecket (225429) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @08:27PM (#29408961)

    From Extoxnet: "DDT is slightly to practically non-toxic to test animals via the dermal route".

    I guess you wouldn't want to swim in the stuff, but then you wouldn't want to eat a cup of table salt in one go, either.Malaria, on the other hand, is most definitely a major killer.

    Are you opposed to vaccination on the same basis?

  • Re:Awards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @08:40PM (#29409053)

    And they would all be leading meaningful lives advancing the human condition.

  • by wytcld (179112) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @09:05PM (#29409213) Homepage

    "The prediction of a problem from too [much|little] ___ is naive because 100 years ago ___, and 20 years ago ___ predicted the same thing, and it has never come to pass. Since it has never yet ___, it is only reasonable to expect that it never will. Those who are warning us against it are obviously fulfilling their own [psychological|political] need, rather than being useful contributors to the public conversation about the real dangers that may be ahead of us."

    The wonderful thing about this formula is that it always works; until it doesn't. The vast majority of people living comfortably in modern civilization (only a minority of people currently living, but still a large number) has no personal memory of serious effects from too much or too little of anything. And we certainly are comforted to be told that we don't have to listen to those warning us of possible trouble ahead. There's a good living to be made by telling us what we want to hear. Even the nonprofessionals can get praised at dinner party conversations and modded up at /. by helping make sure we don't suffer from too little comforting about how the danger from ___ obviously won't come to pass, just because it hasn't yet, and [God|science] loves us, and our comfort will never be spoiled.

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @09:55PM (#29409479)

    Overpopulation is the root cause of many problems: energy shortage, famine, global warming, etc. The 4 horsemen of the apocalypse are approaching. We can already hear the hooves of the horses.

    Good. Let them come. When they're here, science will kick their assess too.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @10:06PM (#29409541)

    Its not that they actively want the third world to be starving and disease ridden, so much as that they're willing to gloss over the facts and the consequences of their bitching if it means they can get the smug high of being 'green.' Many of them think what they're doing is for the best for everyone, citing far off 'what-ifs' to back their point. They're deadly wrong of course, and as a group should be held accountable for the results of their factless fearmongering and their love affair with ignorance, but I don't think it is consciously malicious.
     
    Car analogy: A drunk driver who honestly believes beer makes you a better driver, despite all the mountains of evidence to the contrary, wrecks and kills a family of four.

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @10:12PM (#29409573)

    He didn't, to the contrary, patent them, prohibit [monsanto.com] replanting seeds in subsequent years, and so on.

    I for one can't wait for the day when we see large scale open source GMO crops, and we can be done with the Monsnato thing for good. Many anti-GMO arguements are, at their core, not scientific in nature, but anti-corporate/anti-patent (both, of course, involving Monsanto). And that's sad that a legitimate and viable technology with so much potential should be forced to be weighed down with that sort of stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @11:38PM (#29410059)

    Ah, a nationalist and a socialist, what are those called again?

  • Re:Ok Malthus Jr (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @11:43PM (#29410083)

    I'm not sure you realize that most people that think that overpopulation is a problem want the existing ones killed.
    It's just that they would like population to at least stop growing. This means limiting births, not eliminating
    existing people.
    So your call for people against unchecked population growth to kill themselves is moronic.

    As for the rest, being against unchecked population growth DOES not necessarily mean to be against pesticides,
    GMOs, strong technological development in agriculture.
    I, for one, welcome all of it. If anything, when coupled to population control can actually reduce pressure on the
    environment.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magarity (164372) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @11:53PM (#29410125)

    DDT is some deadly stuff, and I'm satisfied with the documentation that proves it
     
    And how much of a problem is malaria where you live? It's all relative; malaria is a very serious problem in some parts of the world. Serious enough that the problems associated with some chemicals like DDT are mild in comparison. Spritzing dilluted DDT on the walls of a hut in a malaria prone area prevents a LOT of malaria infections and as long as no one licks the walls or drinks from the spray bottle then the risks are quite low of getting some problem from the DDT. Think about the other peoples' complete situation before you condemn viable solutions to bigger problems.

  • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday September 14, 2009 @03:30AM (#29411001)

    On the one hand (and I'd say the bigger hand), the Green Revolution ushered in the world-wide use of many really good technologies for helping to feed the planet -- high-yield crops and better use of irrigation.

    On the other hand, it also ushered in a world of heavy use of herbicides and pesticides (much of which is petroleum based) and nitrogen-fertilizers (which are made in a process that burns natural gas). Fertilizer run-off is killing huge swaths of the Gulf of Mexico due to algal blooms and anoxic zones, and pesticide use in some Midwestern states taints the groundwater and causes birth defects. The dependency on petroleum resources in our agriculture bodes ill because of climate change and dwindling oil supplies over the next century.

    In the balance between the two, it's undeniable that the Green Revolution has saved far more lives than it has harmed, but a lot people in the environmental movement tend to less aware of the problems solved by the solutions of half a century ago than the problems they cause today. That latter fact tends to lead (as ANY political argument about ANYTHING does) to demonizing people responsible for the problems we face today, when we should view the Green Revolution as a great achievement with a few flaws here and there that can be improved upon with better science and with grassroots demand for cleaner, greener food (and not just cheap food). We can thank the Green Revolution for the luxury to demand that.

  • Re:Public Enemy #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday September 14, 2009 @09:05AM (#29412401) Homepage Journal

    DDT wasn't so very deadly to PEOPLE, as you point out. The DDT went into the food chain. Do we care about birds? The raptors in the United states were almost exterminated, thanks to DDT. Raptors don't even eat bugs and insects - instead they eat the creatures that prey on bugs and insects. DDT got into the egg shells, causing the shells to be extremely weak and fragile. When the parents rolled the eggs over in the nest, the eggs broke.

    Again, I ask, at what cost are we willing to kill off all the mosquitos?

    The question doesn't have any easy answers.

    I do try to think of the entire situation. Sometimes, the most comfortable or most convenient answer causes other unforeseen problems. Would my judgement change if I lived in an area where malaria were a more serious problem? Maybe. But, I think that I'd still want to look at the big picture. Is my life worth the extinction of every bird of prey in the region?

    Hubris, anyone?

  • The problem is that all he did was "kick the can" down the road by a generation. So, rather than N number of people in danger of starvation (and Y dying off), there's N*X number in danger of starvation, and Y*X*Z who will die.

    Triage is a fact of life when dealing with famine or other consequences of over-population. We have too many people. More than 2 kids? Mandatory sterilization of both parents, termination of any pregnancy, confiscation of all assets as penalties - it'll help prevent future generations from facing even worse choices.

    Yes, it's cruel - but would you rather have a 1 child per family limit in 20 years?

    And yes, apply this to the whole world, not just the so-called "third world". Share the pain.

    (... and for you fundies who will bitch and moan - there's an easy solution - STOP FUCKING! You tell kids that they should practice abstinence, but you and your leaders can't seem to keep your dicks in your pants or your legs closed, never mind the whole "do not commit adultery" bit. F*ing breeders!)

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