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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Promethean Fire
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The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market-oriented analytic and activist organization here in D.C., held its 20th anniversary dinner last night. It awarded its PROMETHEUS award to Norman Borlaug, agronomist, creator of the Green Revolution, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and holder of over 30 honorary doctorates.

Borlaug is one of the towering figures of the 20th Century (throw in the 21st as well). As writer Gregg Easterbrook said in The Atlantic: "Perhaps more than anyone else, Borlaug is responsible for the fact that throughout the postwar era, except in sub-Saharan Africa, global food production has expanded faster than the human population, averting the mass starvations that were widely predicted . . . . The form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths."

Borlaug is also exemplar par excellence of the great truth propounded by the late Julian Simon: The Ultimate Resource(2) in the world is the human mind, the ability of intelligence and creativity to wrest incalculable value from inert soil and water, silicon and copper, coal and oil, iron ore and bauxite.

He is a great choice for an award named for the god who gave humankind the gift of fire.

posted by James DeLong @ 8:49 AM | General

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