Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos

Paperback | April 1, 1995

byGarrett Hardin

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"We fail to mandate economic sanity," writes Garrett Hardin, "because our brains are addled by...compassion." With such startling assertions, Hardin has cut a swathe through the field of ecology for decades, winning a reputation as a fearless and original thinker. A prominent biologist,ecological philosopher, and keen student of human population control, Hardin now offers the finest summation of his work to date, with an eloquent argument for accepting the limits of the earth's resources--and the hard choices we must make to live within them. In Living Within Limits, Hardin focuses on the neglected problem of overpopulation, making a forceful case for dramatically changing the way we live in and manage our world. Our world itself, he writes, is in the dilemma of the lifeboat: it can only hold a certain number of people before itsinks--not everyone can be saved. The old idea of progress and limitless growth misses the point that the earth (and each part of it) has a limited carrying capacity; sentimentality should not cloud our ability to take necessary steps to limit population. But Hardin refutes the notion that goodwilland voluntary restraints will be enough. Instead, nations where population is growing must suffer the consequences alone. Too often, he writes, we operate on the faulty principle of shared costs matched with private profits. In Hardin's famous essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons," he showed how avillage common pasture suffers from overgrazing because each villager puts as many cattle on it as possible--since the costs of grazing are shared by everyone, but the profits go to the individual. The metaphor applies to global ecology, he argues, making a powerful case for closed borders and anend to immigration from poor nations to rich ones. "The production of human beings is the result of very localized human actions; corrective action must be local....Globalizing the 'population problem' would only ensure that it would never be solved." Hardin does not shrink from the startlingimplications of his argument, as he criticizes the shipment of food to overpopulated regions and asserts that coercion in population control is inevitable. But he also proposes a free flow of information across boundaries, to allow each state to help itself. "The time-honored practice of pollute and move on is no longer acceptable," Hardin tells us. We now fill the globe, and we have no where else to go. In this powerful book, one of our leading ecological philosophers points out the hard choices we must make--and the solutions we have beenafraid to consider.

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From Our Editors

In Living Within Limits, Hardin focuses on the neglected problem of overpopulation, making a forceful case for dramatically changing the way we live in and manage our world.

From the Publisher

"We fail to mandate economic sanity," writes Garrett Hardin, "because our brains are addled by...compassion." With such startling assertions, Hardin has cut a swathe through the field of ecology for decades, winning a reputation as a fearless and original thinker. A prominent biologist,ecological philosopher, and keen student of huma...

From the Jacket

In Living Within Limits, Hardin focuses on the neglected problem of overpopulation, making a forceful case for dramatically changing the way we live in and manage our world.

Garrett Hardin is Professor Emeritus of Human Ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of a number of books about ecology, biology, and ethics, including Promethean Ethics, The Limits of Altruism, Stalking the Wild Taboo, and Population, Evolution, and Birth Control.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9.02 × 5.91 × 0.98 inPublished:April 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195093852

ISBN - 13:9780195093858

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Table of Contents

Part One: Entangling Alliances1. The challenge of limits2. Overpopulation: Escape to the stars?3. Uneasy litter-mates: Population and progress4. Population theory: Academia's stepchild5. Default status: Making sense of the world6. The ambivalent triumph of optimism7. Cowboy economics vs. spaceship ecology8. Growth: Real and spurious9. Exponential growth of populations10. What Malthus missed11. The demostat12. Generating the future13. Limits: A constrained view14. From Jevons's coal to Hubbert's pimplePart Two: Looking for the Bluebird15. Nuclear power: A non-solution16. Trying to escape Malthus17. The benign demographic transitionPart Three: Biting the Bullet18. Making room for human will19. Major default positions of human biology20. Carrying capacity21. The global pillage: Consequences of unmanaged commons22. Discriminating altruisms23. The double C - Double P game24. Birth control vs. population control25. Population control: Natural vs. human26. The necessity of immigration control27. Recapitulation: And a look aheadNotes and referencesIndex

From Our Editors

In Living Within Limits, Hardin focuses on the neglected problem of overpopulation, making a forceful case for dramatically changing the way we live in and manage our world.

Editorial Reviews

"Well worth reading. It is filled with provocative and controversial, even disturbing ideas, and nowhere will you find a better critique of traditional economic theories that ignore the basic ecological concept of limited resources."--San Francisco Chronicle