Garrett Hardin Quotes (36 Quotes)


    Indeed, our particular concept of private property, which deters us from exhausting the positive resources of the earth, favors pollution.



    Using the commons as a cesspool does not harm the general public under frontier conditions, because there is no public, the same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable.

    The social arrangements that produce responsibility are arrangements that create coercion, of some sort.


    No one should be able to enter a wilderness by mechanical means.

    The optimum population is, then, less than the maximum.

    A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.

    You can never do merely one thing. The law applies to any action that changes something in a complex system. The point is that an action taken to alleviate a problem will trigger several effects, some of which may offset or even negate the one intended.

    To many, the word coercion implies arbitrary decisions of distant and irresponsible bureaucrats but this is not a necessary part of its meaning.

    Continuity is at the heart of conservatism: ecology serves that heart.

    Moreover, the practical recommendations deduced from ecological principles threaten the vested interests of commerce; it is hardly surprising that the financial and political power created by these investments should be used sometimes to suppress environmental impact studies.

    A coldly rationalist individualist can deny that he has any obligation to make sacrifices for the future.

    In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are always welcome.

    But as population became denser, the natural chemical and biological recycling processes became overloaded, calling for a redefinition of property rights.

    Why are ecologists and environmentalists so feared and hated? This is because in part what they have to say is new to the general public, and the new is always alarming.

    If our goal is to maximize population it is obvious what we must do We must make the work calories per person approach as close to zero as possible.

    One simple fact proves that none has there is no prosperous population in the world today that has, and has had for some time, a growth rate of zero.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society. It follows that any choice and decision with regard to the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else.

    In a finite world this means that the per capita share of the world's goods must steadily decrease.

    Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidence that a population is below its optimum.

    A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero.

    The rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them.

    The National Parks present another instance of the working out of the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to all, without limit.

    The only kind of coercion I recommend is mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected.

    Fundamentalists are panicked by the apparent disintegration of the family, the disappearance of certainty and the decay of morality. Fear leads them to ask, if we cannot trust the Bible, what can we trust?

    However, I think the major opposition to ecology has deeper roots than mere economics; ecology threatens widely held values so fundamental that they must be called religious.

    An attack on values is inevitably seen as an act of subversion.

    In an approximate way, the logic of commons has been understood for a long time, perhaps since the discovery of agriculture or the invention of private property in real estate.

    Education can counteract the natural tendency to do the wrong thing, but the inexorable succession of generations requires that the basis for this knowledge be constantly refreshed.

    It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience.

    Society does not need more children but it does need more loved children. Quite literally, we cannot afford unloved children - but we pay heavily for them every day. There should not be the slightest communal concern when a woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not wanted is about to be born.


    But it is no good using the tongs of reason to pull the Fundamentalists' chestnuts out of the fire of contradiction. Their real troubles lie elsewhere.

    Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.

    To say that we mutually agree to coercion is not to say that we are required to enjoy it, or even to pretend we enjoy it.


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