The Poor Man's James Bond
The Poor Man's James Bond
POOR MAN'S JAMES BOND Vol. 1
THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK
Over 50% of the adult population of the U.S. cannot follow the simplest instructions in this booK. Eighty per cent cannot grasp the concepts in the following article by Professor Garrett Hardin.
Our species has outbred the carrying capacity of our planet's easilly accessable arable land plus that of their respective socioeconomic systems. With overbreeding has come downbreeding. Our planet has become swamped with morons and psychotics which guarantees the collapse of civilizations "worldwide.
This book is for that intelligent and stable 20%.
Mr. Hardin is Professor of Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has given special attention to population biology and human ecology. The author of several books-including a widely used biology textbook and Exploring New Ethics for Survival-he has been one of the principal provocateurs of current discussions of lifeboat ethics and triage in relation to world famine.
LIFEB0AT ETHICS is merely a special application of the J logic of the commons.1 The classic paradigm is that of a pasture held as common property by a community and governed by the following rules: first, each herdsman may pasture as many cattle as he wishes on the commons and second, the gain from the growth of cattle accrues to the individual owners of the cattle. In an underpopulated world the system of the commons may do no harm and may even be the most economic way to manage things, since management costs are kept to a minimum. In an overpopulated (or overexploited) world a system of the commons leads to ruin, because each herdsman has more to gain individually by increasing the size of his herd than he has to lose as a single member of the community guilty of lowering the carrying capacity of the environment. Con-sequendy he (with others) overloads the commons.
Even if an individual fully perceives the ultimate consequences of his actions he is most unlikely to act in any other way, for he cannot count on the restraint his conscience might dictate being matched by a similar restraint on the part of all the others. (Anything less than all is not enough.) Since mutual ruin is inevitable, it is quite proper to speak of the tragedy of the commons.
Tragedy is the price of freedom in the commons. Only by changing to some other system (socialism or private enterprise, for example) can ruin be averted. In other words, in a crowded world survival requires that some freedom be given up. (We have, however, a choice in the freedom to be sacrificed.) Survival is possible under several different politico-economic systems -but not under the system of the commons. When we understand this point, we reject the ideal of distributive justice stated by Karl Marx a century ago, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. "2 This ideal might be defensible if needs " were defined by the larger community rather than by the individual (or individual political unit) and if "needs " were static.2 But in the past quarter-century, with the best will in the &bullworld, some humanitarians have been asserting that rich populations must supply the needs of poor populations even though the recipient populations increase without restraint. At the United Nations conference on population in Bucharest in 1973 spokesmen for the poor nations repeatedly said in effect: "We poor people have the right to reproduce as much as we want to you in the rich world have the responsibility of keeping us alive. "
Such a Marxian disjunction of rights and responsibilities inevitably tends toward tragic ruin for all. It is almost incredible that this position is supported by thoughtful persons, but it is. How does this come about? In part, I think, because language deceives us. When a disastrous loss of life threatens, people speak of a "crisis, " implying that the threat is temporary. More subtle is the implication of quantitative stability built into the pronoun "they " and its relatives. Let me illustrate this point with quantified prototype statements based on two different points of view.
Crisis analysis: These poor people (1,000,000) are starving, because of a crisis (flood, drought, or the like). How can we refuse them (1,000,000)? Let us feed them (1,000,000). Once the crisis is past those who are still hungry are few (say 1,000) and there is no further need for our intervention. "
Crunch analysis: "Those (1,000,000) who are hungry are reproducing. We send food to them (1,010,000). Their lives (1,020,000) are saved. But since the environment is still essentially the same, the next year they (1,030,000) ask for more food. We send it to them (1,045,000) and the next year they (1,068,000) ask for still more. Since the need has not gone away, it is a mistake to speak of a passing crisis: it is evidently a permanent crunch that this growing "they " face-a growing disaster, not a passing state of affairs. "
"They " increases in size. Rhetoric makes no allowance for a ballooning pronoun. Thus we can easily be deceived by language. We cannot deal adequately with ethical questions if we ignore quantitative matters. This attitude has been rejected by James Sellers, who dismisses prophets of doom from Malthus4 to Meadows5 as "chiliasts. " Chiliasts (or millenialists, to use the Latin-derived equivalent of the Greek term) predict a catastrophic end of things a thousand years from some reference point. The classic example is the prediction of Judgment Day in the year 1000 anno Domini. Those who predicted it were wrong, of course but the fact that this specific prediction was wrong is no valid criticism of the use of numbers in thinking. Milleniahsm is numerology, not science.
In science, most of the time, it is not so much exact numbers that are important as it is the relative size of numbers and the direction of change in the magnitude of them. Much productive analysis is accomplished with only the crude quantitation of "order of magnitude " thinking. First and second derivatives are often calculated widi no finer aim than to find out if they are positive or negative. Survival can hinge on the crude issue of the sign of change, regardless of number. This is a far cry from the spurious precision of numerology. Unfortunately the chasm between the "two cultures, " as C. P. Snow called them,8 keeps many in the non-scientific culture from understanding the significance of the quantitative approach.