Earth Overshoot Day

aheadoftheherd.com / Richard (Rick) Mills / May 2, 2017

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information

The second half of the 20th century saw the biggest increase in the world’s population in human history. Our population surged because of:

  • Medical advances lessened the mortality rate in many countries
  • Massive increases in agricultural productivity caused by the “Green Revolution”

The global death rate has dropped almost continuously since the start of the industrial revolution – personal hygiene, improved methods of sanitation and the development of antibiotics all played a major role.

Green Revolution

The term Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfers that happened between the 1940s and the late 1970s.

The initiatives involved:

  • Development of high yielding varieties of cereal grains
  • Expansion of irrigation infrastructure
  • Modernization of management techniques
  • Mechanization
  • Distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers

Tractors with gasoline powered internal combustion engines (versus steam) became the norm in the 1920s after Henry Ford developed his Fordson in 1917 – the first mass produced tractor. This new technology was available only to relatively affluent farmers and it was not until the 1940s tractor use became widespread.

Electric motors and irrigation pumps made farming and ranching more efficient. Major innovations in animal husbandry – modern milking parlors, grain elevators, and confined animal feeding operations  –  were all made possible by electricity.

Advances in fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and antibiotics all led to better weed, insect and disease control.

There were major advances in plant and animal breeding – crop hybridization, artificial insemination of livestock, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Further down the food chain came innovations in food processing and distribution.

All these new technologies increased global agriculture production with the full effects starting to be felt in the 1960s.

Cereal production more than doubled in developing nations – yields of rice, maize, and wheat increased steadily. Between 1950 and 1984 world grain production increased by over 250% – and the world added a couple billion more people to the dinner table.

The modernization and industrialization of our global agricultural industry led to the single greatest explosion in food production in history. The agricultural reforms and resulting production increases fostered by the Green Revolution are responsible for avoiding widespread famine in developing countries and for feeding billions more people since.

The Green Revolution helped kick start the greatest explosion in human population in our history – it took only 40 years (starting in 1950) for the population to double from 2.5 billion to five billion people.

We goosed agra machine’s growth and saved a billion people who birthed billions more.

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