Hardin Argues for Population Control (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: Garrett Hardin’s controversial essay “The Tragedy of the Commons,” published in Science in 1968, provoked extensive debate about controlling the world’s population growth.
Summary of Event
In December, 1968, environmental biologist Garrett Hardin published an article in Science magazine, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” that has stimulated extensive discussion among biologists, demographers, economists, political scientists, sociologists, ethicists, and others about the earth’s carrying capacity, population growth, pollution, and related issues. Its provocative argument, blunt language, and use of an arresting metaphor has led the article to be widely praised and even more widely criticized.
Hardin repudiated the “almost universal assumption” underlying essays in scientific journals that every problem facing humanity could be solved by utilizing better techniques derived from the natural sciences and that therefore no fundamental changes in human values or morality were required. He argued specifically that the growth of world population, which, in his judgment, was spiraling out of control, rapidly depleting the planet’s resources, despoiling the environment, and threatening to someday produce extensive famine and pestilence, had no technical solution. Hardin rejected the widespread belief that the “evils of overpopulation” could be avoided by technological...
(The entire section is 2510 words.)
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