This article originally appeared in Gale Pooley’s Gale Winds Substack.
Before agronomist Norman Borlaug showed up in the 1960s, India was only producing 10 million tons of wheat a year. In 2023, it expects to produce 112 million tons. Thanks to Borlaug and other scientists and innovators, India’s wheat production has increased by 1,020 percent since 1965. From 1965 to 2022, India’s population increased by 180 percent, from 500 million to 1.45 billion. Every 1 percent increase in population corresponded to a 5.66 percent increase in wheat production—the opposite of what Paul Ehrlich predicted.
While Ehrlich wanted to sterilize Indians in order to control population growth, Borlaug taught them how to feed themselves and export their surplus production. The lesson is to not trust someone who is frightened of the future because of their hypothetical model and who has the totalitarian power to deprive people of their human rights and dignity.
In 1970 Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His discoveries are estimated to have saved a billion people from malnutrition and starvation.
His favorite saying was “No time to relax.”
If people are free to innovate and enjoy the benefits of their labor, they will lift themselves and everyone else out of poverty.
Who is our next Norman Borlaug? Maybe someone born in India who now has the food and time to discover valuable new knowledge.