Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 15, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

LIVING WITHIN LIMITS: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos by Garrett Hardin (Oxford University Press: $25; 339 pp.). Garrett Hardin, emeritus professor of human ecology at UC Santa Barbara, reports that he felt "splendidly original" in 1963 when he asserted in a scientific journal that "we can never do merely one thing." He subsequently learned that the idea is millennia old, and perhaps put best in John Muir's statement: "When you try to pick out any thing by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe." "Living Within Limits" is a grab-bag of arguments illustrating the truth in this thought, which usually comes up when Homo sapiens has launched some new attempt to evade the laws of nature. Overpopulation is the particular concern here, Hardin giving an extended defense of Malthus and arguing that population Pollyannas--those who expect science, interplanetary travel, government or the Supreme Being to deliver us from some major resource shortage, such as famine, in the not-too-distant future--are in deep denial. Hardin, though walking a minefield in this book, sets off very few because his analysis, with a handful of exceptions, is politically and culturally neutral: he argues credibly that immigration to rich countries must be controlled, that foreign aid sets the groundwork for future disaster, that birth control is a necessary but insufficient answer to overpopulation.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|