Garrett Hardin (1986)
|Born||April 21, 1915
|Died||September 14, 2003
Santa Barbara, California
|Known for||The Tragedy of the Commons (essay)|
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.
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.
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.
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.
But as population became denser, the natural chemical and biological recycling processes became overloaded, calling for a redefinition of property rights.
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.
Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidence that a population is below its optimum.
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.
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.
In a finite world this means that the per capita share of the world's goods must steadily decrease.
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.
Indeed, our particular concept of private property, which deters us from exhausting the positive resources of the earth, favors pollution.
It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience.
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.
The only kind of coercion I recommend is mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected.
A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero.
A coldly rationalist individualist can deny that he has any obligation to make sacrifices for the future.
The social arrangements that produce responsibility are arrangements that create coercion, of some sort.
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.
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.
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?
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.