Updated 26 September, 2003
Tribute to Garrett Hardin
by Robert John MD
It must be over 20 years since Garrett Hardin invited me to his home in Santa Barbara, where I met his wife, and discussed the interests we shared. Before and since, we have recognized him and the value of his work in applying what we know about natural science to social and political issues.
A tribute to him was given by Dr. John in 1996 in an address to the international Institute for advanced studies in systems analysis, as follows:
The great American human ecologist, Garrett Hardin, at Santa Barbara, has been showing and telling us for over thirty years why we must to use science rather than manipulated sentimentality in planning public policy. In his 1993 book, Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos, he writes "a dissertation on the laws of nature that must be obeyed."
"The formula for survival and progress is simple: Unity within each sovereignty, diversity among sovereignties... The wisdom is very old: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Given many sovereign nations, it is possible for humanity to carry out many experiments in population control. Each nation can observe the successes and failures of the others. Experiments that have a good outcome can be copied and perhaps improved upon; unsuccessful experiments can be noted and not repeated. Such learning by trial and error is perilous if the borderless world created by unrestricted migration converts the entire globe into one single hue experiment. As long as the intelligence of the human species is less than perfect,... segmented parochialism is superior to unified cosmopolitanism in disclosing and capitalizing on the diverse possibilities of human nature."
We need to relate existing and new knowledge to understand and judge our value systems as they relate to biological and cultural survival, and our quality of life for the future. We should be missionaries among our own peoples for bio- and cultural diversity that enhance the quality of life. We must not tolerate legislators who do not protect our diversity. We are for a human ecology which promotes it. We are for a new enlightenment based on what we know of general ecology to support it.
International Council for Human Ecology and Ethnology