Garrett Hardin: 21 April 1915- 14 September 2003

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American Philosophical Society


Nearly three decades before the concept of sustainable development reached an international audience, Garrett Hardin combined the study of economics, resource allocation, environmental studies, ecology, and political science into the presidential address The Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin asserted that human suffering would increase if humankind failed to recognize that the planet and its resources are finite and he also suggested that humans did not have the right to consume resources in ways that would adversely affect future generations. Hardin s major works all emphasized seven unifying themes: 1) human population explosion will damage the environment, deplete natural resources, and degrade quality of human life, 2) third-world countries will find stabilizing population growth difficult, 3) multicultural societies inevitably experience social conflict, which is exacerbated by excessive immigration, 4) quantity and quality of children must be controlled, 5) harsh penalties are the result of exceeding carrying capacity, 6) individuals will exploit anything that is free to maximize their own advantage, but the cost of this exploitation is paid by society as a whole, 7) some form of coercion will be necessary to control exponential population growth.



human population, Sustainability, tragedy of the commons, resource allocation, carrying capacity, exponential population growth