Monday, September 21, 2009

The Most Famous Person You've Never Heard Of!

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I’m going to make an assumption, so please bear with me. I’m guessing you may be familiar with the names of some of the winners of any number of reality shows, such as ‘Idol’, ‘Biggest Loser’, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and perhaps even the winner of Miss World. If for no other reason than by osmosis, from seeing the magazine headlines that abound.

My second assumption is that you’re not up to speed on the works of Norman Borlaug. Me neither. I spotted a small obituary recently hidden in the depths of a celebrity gossip filled newspaper, that caught my eye, and made me question, why I’d never heard of this chap.

Agronomists, humanitarians and Nobel Laureates are generally not too well known, unless they simultaneously have rock icon status or adopt third world children to parade on the red carpets of the world.

So who is Dr. Norman Borlaug? Well as C.V’s go, I doubt you can ever hope to better his. He is credited with having saved more lives, an estimated Billion, than any other person in history! That’s not a typo! Incidentally that equates to almost as many people that were alive when he was born nearly 100 years ago.

For a sneak preview of this remarkable person’s achievement I’d recommend taking a few minutes to check out some Wikipedia citations. Suffice to summarize: Gorlaub spent most of his life in the pursuit of eliminating global starvation, by means of dramatically increasing crop yields. He was responsible for developing wheat strains that were semi-dwarf, high yield and disease resistant.

In the mid 1960’s there was a very real fear that crop yield would not support a population of more than 4 billion. Yet between 1965 and 1970, Borlaug’s intervention, helped avert an unprecedented famine scenario in Mexico, India, Pakistan and China. It is estimated that his discoveries have contributed to a quadrupling of food production.
Remarkably, this trend in global food production has expanded faster than population growth. The new estimates for population sustainability are now in the vicinity of 10 billion.

Sometimes the work of scientists can seem drab and uninspiring, and yet if some of these unseen heroes were feted with just a fraction of the idolatry that the latest manufactured celebrity receives, then I believe many of us uninformed consumers of the mass media production line would be genuinely inspired.

I’m not sure if Mr Gorlaub had matinee looks or dated a model or two, but I believe society would be well served by at least being aware of his impact.

Who’s inspired you lately?

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