When Norman Borlaug died recently at the age of 95, his obituary included one of the most extraordinary claims that any human could ever possibly make. Because of the “Green Revolution” that he pioneered, the ability of this planet to produce food to support the human population was dramatically increased. The use of fertilizers and pesticides and simple changes in practices taken together probably meant that at least a billion people were alive because of Prof. Borlaug that would not have otherwise been.
It sounds great, unless you start to think about the resources that all those people consume. But what if, in the end, it all worked itself out and we didn’t devour this planet like a giant swarm of very smart locusts? That may actually be what winds up happening, if just a bit beyond the lifespan of the brilliant Prof. Borlaug.