The Man Who Defused the Population Bomb: Your Response Needed

September 17, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Bob Walker and Emily Pontarelli for this article from the Wall Street Journal on Norman Borlaug. He was a friend of the population cause. He served on the International Advisory Committee of the Population Institute and the Program Advisory Board of Population Media Center. The article claims that Norman Borlaug defused the population bomb through being the father of the Green Revolution. Borlaug, himself, recognized that the Green Revolution only bought a few decades of time for humanity to stop population growth, or hunger would return on a massive basis. Now with over 1 billion people malnourished, it is clear that the population bomb is still a major worry for humanity. Let the Wall Street Journal know your opinion. Following the article are instructions for sending a letter to the Wall Street Journal, a copy of the letter I sent, and quotes from Norman Borlaug’s statements about population.

The Man Who Defused the ‘Population Bomb’

Norman Borlaug arguably the greatest American of the 20th century died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America’s Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture.

For full article, visit:

Letters to the editor can be emailed to

Following is the letter I sent.

The Wall Street Journal is to be commended for paying tribute to Dr. Borlaug (“The Man Who Defused the Population Bomb”). Few, if any, in this world have done as much to relieve human suffering. But he didn’t defuse the population bomb. It’s still ticking.

As Dr. Borlaug recognized in his 1970 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, the battle against global hunger is not over and will never be over as long as population growth threatens to outstrip food production. That’s why Dr. Borlaug served on the international advisory committee of the Population Institute.

With global grain reserves still dangerously low and global population on track to add 2.5 billion more people to the planet over the next 40 years, there is no room for complacency.

Nobel Lecture and quotes

I am convinced that if all policymakers would take sufficient interest in population control and in aggressively employing and exploiting agricultural development as a potent instrument of agrarian prosperity and economic advancement, many of the social ills of the present day could soon become problems of the past.

The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution with be ephemeral only.

We must recognize the fact that adequate food is only the first requisite for life. For a decent and humane life we must also provide an opportunity for good education, remunerative employment, comfortable housing, good clothing, and effective and compassionate medical care. Unless we can do this, man may degenerate sooner from environmental diseases than from hunger.

Since man is potentially a rational being, however, I am confident that within the next two decades he will recognize the self destructive course he steers along the road of irresponsible population growth and will adjust the growth rate to levels which will permit a decent standard of living for all of mankind.

Nobel Acceptance Speech and quotes

It is true that the tide of the battle against hunger has changed for the better during the past three years. But tides have a way of flowing and then ebbing again. We may be at high tide now, but ebb tide could set in if we become complacent and relax our efforts. For we are dealing with two opposing forces, the scientific power of food production and the biologic power of human reproduction.

There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort. Fighting alone, they may win temporary skirmishes, but united they can win a decisive victory to provide food and other amenities of a progressive civilization for the benefit of all mankind.
PI Blog posting on Borlaug

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