Living within Limits

Living within Limits : Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos

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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 it sinks - 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 goodwill and 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 a village 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 casefor closed borders and an end 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." Hardshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 409 pages
  • 162.56 x 228.6 x 30.48mm | 771.1g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line figures, bibliography
  • 019507811X
  • 9780195078114

Table of contents

Part One: Entangling Alliances. 1: The challenge of limits. 2: Overpopulation: Escape to the stars?. 3: Uneasy litter-mates: Population and progress. 4: Population theory: Academia's stepchild. 5: Default status: Making sense of the world. 6: The ambivalent triumph of optimism. 7: Cowboy economics vs. spaceship ecology. 8: Growth: Real and spurious. 9: Exponential growth of populations. 10: What Malthus missed. 11: The demostat. 12: Generating the future. 13: Limits: A constrained view. 14: From Jevons's coal to Hubbert's pimple. Part Two: Looking for the Bluebird. 15: Nuclear power: A non-solution. 16: Trying to escape Malthus. 17: The benign demographic transition. Part Three: Biting the Bullet. 18: Making room for human will. 19: Major default positions of human biology. 20: Carrying capacity. 21: The global pillage: Consequences of unmanaged commons. 22: Discriminating altruisms. 23: The double C - Double P game. 24: Birth control vs. population control. 25: Population control: Natural vs. human. 26: The necessity of immigration control. 27: Recapitulation: And a look ahead. Notes and references. Indexshow more

About Garrett Hardin

About the Author: 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 more

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134 ratings
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2 6% (8)
1 1% (2)
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