In Heaven, there is a club. The most exclusive club in the world.
Their names are not widely known. They have no monuments, no honors, no streets named after them, no parades. Children do not learn about them in school. Their names are less well-recognized than the average sports star.
And yet we owe them our lives.
Vasili Arkhipov, who prevented a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Stanislav Petrov, who judged reports of a nuclear attack on Russia to be a false alarm and refused to set off the bomb. Karl Landsteiner, who discovered the existence of blood types. Fritz Haber, the father of chemical warfare, on whose discovery of the Haber-Bosch process half the world depends for its food. Carl Bosch, who transformed Haber’s discovery into a practical way of producing fertilizer. Adolph Hustin, Luis Agote, and Richard Lewisohn, who discovered how to store blood for transfusion. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution.
They call it the One Billion Club.
Today, take a moment to give thanks to these heroes, without whom we would be dead.
Tapio Peltonen said:
I’m a bit queasy about including the chemists who started the “green revolution”, i.e. fossil fertilizer trend, since it could be argued this is the reason world’s human population has been able to grow so far above sustainable level that it is threatening the biodiversity of the planet as a whole. Of course, the someone would have made those innovations sooner or later, anyway. And agricultural land requirements would be much larger without fossil fertilizers, so it’s working both ways.
But the only way to avoid that without the kind of prosperity that leads people to not have so many kids is starvation, either incrementally, or in great swaths the soviet or imperialist style.
Really, one should be blaming Edward Jenner &co in the Hundred Million Club for keeping people from dying of disease.
Not quite. The amount of deaths attributable to disease were already dropping sharply by that point, courtesy of general hygiene vastly improving. Not sure who’d be responsible for that, though.
Russel Marker must be annoyed at all the genocidal maniacs hanging around with him in the -10^6 club.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ryan B said:
Wiki’d him. Comment of the Year.
Thanks, but I doubt it compares to https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/what-being-gay-isnt-natural-actually-means/comment-page-1/#comment-4823 .
Robert Liguori said:
I second this experience. Marker’s contributions are narratively and factually interesting.
Doug S. said:
(For being largely responsible for the birth control pill?)
Stuart Armstrong said:
If Borlaug is in the club, then so is Jenner…
Serge Pizzorno said:
The idea that the world would have ended if not for Petrov is at best dubious. All he did was not forward a report – he wasn’t, as people often claim, in a decision-making position. It’s entirely possible that the same things that made him suspect that the “missiles” weren’t real (chiefly the extreme unlikelihood of such a limited launch) would have triggered scepticism at the level those things were supposed to be considered (e.g. the Politburo). I understand the need to create heroes and to believe in movie-type scenarios where One Man Saves The World (TM) but it’s dubious that this is the case.
http://scienceheroes.com/ is a site with lots of people like this. though in general I expect that a lot of the most important accomplishments of civilization were done by groups?
Pingback: In Memoriam: A Postscript to Petrov Day | Anomaly Beta