Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day: Two Remembrances

Earth Day was celebrated yesterday and this story from the Sacramento Bee reports what has happened since.

An excerpt.

“Forty years ago today, Earth Day exploded into our American lexicon with a new brand of do-it-yourself environmentalism. Billed as "the largest protest in American history," the first Earth Day centered on college campuses as part sit-in, part act up.

“This commemoration of conservation consciousness has grown into a worldwide effort, with "saving the planet" becoming an everyday part of life.

“How the movement has changed:

“Go-to Earth guy

“Then: Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the father of Earth Day. The former Wisconsin governor overhauled his home state's resources policy, then took on the whole country as senator. His inspiration for Earth Day came from two sources: a 1969 Santa Barbara channel oil spill and student anti-war protests.
“Quote: "Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.

"Now: Former Vice President Al Gore. His book and Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," brought the global climate crisis into perspective for millions.
Quote: "The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. … But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait."

This story from the American Spectator profiles a person who did a whole lot more to help the world than either of the two aforementioned.

An excerpt.

“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.

Norman Borlaug, the famous plant scientist, died on September 12, 2009, at 95. The Economist called him the "feeder of the world."

“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.”