Garrett Hardin

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Garrett Hardin
Garrett Hardin.jpg
Garrett Hardin (1986)
Born April 21, 1915
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died September 14, 2003(2003-09-14) (aged 88)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Fields Ecology
Known for The Tragedy of the Commons (essay)

Garrett James Hardin (April 21, 1915 – September 14, 2003) was an American ecologist and philosopher who warned of the dangers of overpopulation. His exposition of the tragedy of the commons, in a famous 1968 paper in Science,[1] called attention to "the damage that innocent actions by individuals can inflict on the environment".[2] He is also known for Hardin's First Law of Human Ecology: "We can never do merely one thing. Any intrusion into nature has numerous effects, many of which are unpredictable."[3]:112

Biography

Hardin received a B.S. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1936 and a PhD in microbiology from Stanford University in 1941 where his dissertation research addressed symbiosis among microorganisms[4]. Moving to the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1946, he served there as Professor of Human Ecology from 1963 until his (nominal) retirement in 1978. He was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.

Major works and positions

A major focus of his career, and one to which he returned repeatedly, was the issue of human overpopulation. This led to writings on controversial subjects such as advocating abortion rights,[5] which earned him criticism from the political right, and advocating eugenics by forced sterilization,[citation needed] and strict limits to non-western immigration, which earned him criticism from the political left. In his essays, he also tackled subjects such as conservation[6] and creationism.[7]

Neomalthusian approach and "Tragedy of the commons"

In 1968 Hardin applied his conceptual model developed in his essay "The tragedy of the commons" to human population growth, the use of the Earth's natural resources, and the welfare state.[1] His essay cited an 1833 pamphlet by the English economist William Forster Lloyd which included an example of herders sharing a common parcel of land, which would lead to overgrazing.

Hardin blamed the welfare state for allowing the tragedy of the commons; where the state provides for children and supports over-breeding as a fundamental human right, Malthusian catastrophe is inevitable. Hardin stated in his analysis of the tragedy of the commons that "Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all."[1]:1244 However, environmental historians Joachim Radkau, Alfred Thomas Grove and Oliver Rackham denounced Hardin "as an American with no notion at all how Commons actually work".[8]

In addition, Hardin's pessimistic outlook was in contradiction with Elinor Ostrom's later work on success of co-operative structures like the management of common land,[9] for which she shared the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences together with Oliver E. Williamson. In contrast to Hardin, they stated neither commons or "Allmende" in the generic nor classical meaning are bound to fail; to the contrary "the wealth of the commons" has gained renewed interest in the scientific community.[10] Hardin's work was also criticized[11] as historically inaccurate in failing to account for the demographic transition, and for failing to distinguish between common property and open access resources.[12]

It should be noted that Lloyd's original example, re-discovered by Hardin, could only apply to unregulated use of land regarded as a common resource. Normally, rights of use of Common land in England and Wales were, and still are, closely regulated, and available only to "commoners". If excessive use was made of common land, for example in overgrazing, a common would be "stinted", that is, a limit would be put on the number of animals each commoner was allowed to graze. These regulations were responsive to demographic and economic pressure; thus rather than let a common become degraded, access was restricted even further. Controls on usage can help mitigate the tragedy of the commons.[13]

Lifeboat metaphor and denial of food aid

In September 1974, he published the article "Living on a Lifeboat" in BioScience magazine, arguing that contributing food to help the Ethiopian famine would add to overpopulation, which he considered the root of Ethiopia's problems.

Living Within Limits

In 1993, Garrett Hardin published Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, which he described at the time as a summation of all his previous works. In this award-winning book, he argues that the natural sciences are grounded in the concept of limits (such as the speed of light), while social sciences, such as economics, are grounded in concepts that have no limits (such as the wide-spread "infinite-Earth" economic models). He notes that most of the more notable scientific (as opposed to political) debates concerning ecological economics are between natural scientists, such as Paul R. Ehrlich, and economists, such as Julian Simon, one of Ehrlich's most well known and vocal detractors. A strong theme through out the book is that economics, as a discipline, can be as much about mythology and ideology as it is about real science.

Hardin goes on to label those who reflexively argue for growth as "growthmaniacs",[14] and argues against the institutional faith in exponential growth on a finite planet. Typical of Hardin's writing style, he illustrates exponential growth by way of a Biblical metaphor.[15] Using compound interest, or "usury", he starts from the infamous "thirty pieces of silver" and, using 5% compounded interest, finds that after around 2,000 years, "every man, woman, and child would be entitled to only (!) 160,000 earth-masses of gold". As a consequence, he argues that any economy based on long-term compound interest must eventually fail due to the physical and mathematical impossibility of long-term exponential growth on a finite planet.[16] Hardin writes, "At this late date millions of people believe in the fertility of money with an ardor seldom accorded to traditional religious doctrines".[16]:67 He argues that, contrary to some socially-motivated claims, population growth is also exponential growth, therefore even a little would be disastrous anywhere in the world, and that even the richest nations are not immune.

Position in the Bell curve controversy and against affirmative action

In 1994, he was one of 52 signatories on "Mainstream Science on Intelligence",[17] an editorial written by Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal, which declared the consensus of the signing scholars on issues related to race and intelligence following the publication of the book The Bell Curve. Like many of the other signatories of that editorial, Hardin was also a grantee of the Pioneer Fund, which funds controversial research on the topic of race and intelligence and is frequently described as promoting scientific racism. On February 11, 1998, he debated Christian philosopher William Lane Craig at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[18][19]

Hardin's last book The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (1999), a warning about the threat of overpopulation to the Earth's sustainable economic future, called for coercive constraints on "unqualified reproductive rights" and argued that affirmative action is a form of racism.

Participation in the Death with dignity movement and suicide

Hardin, who suffered from a heart disorder and the aftermath of childhood polio,[20] and his wife Jane, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, were members of End-of-Life Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society, and believed in individuals choosing their own time to die. They committed suicide in their Santa Barbara home in September 2003, shortly after their 62nd wedding anniversary. He was 88 and she was 81.[21]

Publications

Books

  • 1965, Nature and Man's Fate New American Library. ISBN 0-451-61170-5
  • 1972, Exploring new ethics for survival: the voyage of the spaceship Beagle Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-30268-6
  • 1973, Stalking the Wild Taboo W. Kaufmann. ISBN 0-913232-03-3
  • 1974, Mandatory Motherhood: The True Meaning of 'Right to Life' Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-2177-6
  • 1977, The Limits of Altruism: an Ecologist's view of Survival Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33435-7
  • 1980, Promethean Ethics: Living With Death, Competition, and Triage University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95717-4
  • 1982, Naked Emperors: Essays of a Taboo-Stalker William Kaufmann, Inc. ISBN 0-86576-032-2
  • 1985, Filters Against Folly, How to Survive despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-80410-X
  • 1993, Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509385-2
  • 1999, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512274-7

Selected journal articles

Chapters in books

  • 1993. The entire text of Garrett Hardin's Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, Chapter Eight, Growth: Real and Spurious Reprinted at GarrettHardinSociety.org, by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc
  • 1991. "Paramount positions in ecological economics." In Costanza, R. (editor) Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability, New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07562-6
  • 1991. "The tragedy of the 'Unmanaged' commons – population and the disguises of providence." In: R. V. Andelson, (editor), Commons Without Tragedy, London: Shepheard-Walwyn, pp. 162–185. ISBN 0-389-20958-9 (U.S.)

Awards

  • Hardin's 1993 book Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, received the 1993 Award in Science from the Phi Beta Kappa Society.[22]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Hardin, G (1968). "The Tragedy of the Commons". Science. 162 (3859): 1243–1248. Bibcode:1968Sci...162.1243H. PMID 5699198. doi:10.1126/science.162.3859.1243. 
  2. ^ Lavietes, Stuart (October 28, 2003). "Garrett Hardin, 88, Ecologist Who Warned About Excesses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  3. ^ Miller, George Tyler (1993). Environmental Science: Sustaining the Earth. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 9780534178086. 
  4. ^ Hardin, Garrett (1944-07-01). "Symbiosis of Paramecium and Oikomonas". Ecology. 25 (3): 304–311. ISSN 1939-9170. doi:10.2307/1931278. 
  5. ^ Hardin, Garrett (1973). "Chapter 1: I Become an Abortionist". Stalking the Wild Taboo. William Kaufmann, Inc. pp. 3–9. ISBN 0-913232-03-3. 
  6. ^ Hardin, Garrett (1982). "Chapter 22: Conservation's Secret Question". Naked Emperors. William Kaufmann, Inc. pp. 190–195. ISBN 0-86576-032-2. 
  7. ^ Hardin, Garrett (1982). "Chapter 7: "Scientific Creationism" — Marketing Deception as Truth". Naked Emperors. William Kaufmann, Inc. pp. 49–57. ISBN 0-86576-032-2. 
  8. ^ Radkau, Joachim (2008). Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment. Cambridge University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-521-85129-9.  Radkau cites Grove and Rackham, The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History.
  9. ^ Araral, E. (2014). "Ostrom, Hardin and the commons: A critical appreciation and a revisionist view". Environmental Science & Policy. 36: 11. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2013.07.011. 
  10. ^ Bollier, David; Helfrich, Silke, eds. (2014). The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. Levellers Press. ISBN 978-1-937146-14-6. 
  11. ^ Dasgupta, Partha (2001). Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199247882. 
  12. ^ Ciriacy-Wantrup, S.V.; Bishop, R.C. (October 1975). "'Common Property' as a Concept in Natural Resources Policy" (PDF). Natural Resources Journal. 15: 713–727. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  13. ^ Cox, Susan Jane Buck (Spring 1985). "No tragedy of the commons" (PDF). Journal of Environmental Ethics. 7 (1): 49. doi:10.5840/enviroethics1985716. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  14. ^ Stalking the Wild Taboo – Stalkers: Hardin: Book Review
  15. ^ Hardin, Garrett (1993). "Living Within Limits, Chapter 8" (PDF). Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Hardin, Garrett (1993). Living Within Limits. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198024033.  "Chapter 8. Growth Real and Spurious" available online at Garrett Hardin Society.
  17. ^ Gottfredson, Linda (December 13, 1994). "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" (PDF). Wall Street Journal. p. A18. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  18. ^ Christianity vs. Scientific Naturalism on YouTube February 11, 1998.
  19. ^ Williams, Peter S. A Sceptic's Guide to Atheism: God is Not Dead. Authentic Media. ISBN 978-1842276174. 
  20. ^ Uh, not sure what to put here. Personal acquaintance? Keynote Address 'We must learn again for ourselves what we have inherited', Wilderness Conference, SF, 1970, or perhaps *A 110. The economics of wilderness. Natural History, 78(6):20-27. 1969.
  21. ^ Steepleton, Scott (19 September 2003). "Pioneering professor, wife die in apparent double suicide". Santa Barbara News-Press. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  22. ^ "Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science – List of Previous Winners". The Phi Beta Kappa Society. Retrieved 2010-12-06. 

Further reading

  • Locher, Fabien (2013). "Cold War Pastures: Garrett Hardin and the 'Tragedy of the Commons'" (PDF). Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine. 60 (1): 7–36. 
  • Hardin, Garrett (1985). Filters Against Folly: How to Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent. Viking Penguin, Inc. ISBN 067080410X. 

External links

  • The Garrett Hardin Society – includes interviews with Hardin in text and video format
  • The Tragedy of the Commons
  • Obituary at American Scientist
  • Obituary in The New York Times
  • Tributes at the Garrett Hardin Society
  • 'Common Tragedy' by Tim Harford
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