Sustainability Could Happen (Harden vs. Garret)

Topics: Natural environment, Population, World population Pages: 7 (2494 words) Published: December 6, 2012
Sustainability Could Happen
Harden vs. Garret

It can be argued that human instinct is an ever evolving characteristic that is never always in sync with that of nature. Human’s have the ability and sometimes the burden to understand and comprehend what is happening to him and his surroundings. One thing that is consistent with Human instinct is that the level of understanding and the ability to adapt to one’s surrounding has both different points of views and attitudes towards what direction one should progress. What should the humans do to live sustainably?In Wendell Barry’s Getting along with Nature, Berry feels that change begins with the realization of interdependency between nature and humans. In The Tragedy of the Commons, by Garret Hardin, the population is the greatest evil facing sustainability. Hardin and Berry are the quintessential polar opposites in regards to their own personal perceptions, human nature, and faith in society but if we could meld these two minds then the idea of sustainability could become a reality. Hardin’s and Berry’s Synopsis

The main idea of Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons, is that with population increase comes too many humans. Too many humans will undoubtedly harm his environment through the theory that consumption is at the core of the human instinct. Looking directly at Hardin’s ‘Tragedy‘ principle, he is saying that it is in the Human nature to pursue self indulgence and that supersedes the good of the community. If every human thinks in this manner then it is only a matter of time before that indulgence can no longer be supported and everyone will share the loss.

The Common’s example says this; If there is a common space where everyone can raise their cattle and they can receive full benefit from the sale of that cattle then then end result plus one. If one herder brings in one new cattle then every herder starts to bring in new cattle and the commons will eventually be destroyed. Now, if the entire commons is overgrazed then everyone shares in the loss and the individuals loss is fractionalized. “Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit -- in a world that is limited.(Hardin)”

Berry also sees the hardships of human instinct in relation to the effect on the earth’s Natural Capital but takes a gentler approach. Berry breaks things down to two different types of people, one that is with nature and one that is with industry. The naturalist looks at the earth and wants to grow with the earth. If we don’t grow and learn to live with the earth then we can not exist and that the earth and the naturalist can exist with mutual utility. The industrialist sees the earth and wants to take from the earth because human progress tells us to do so. Utility is only for the industrialist to have and he sees no consequences of obtaining as much as the earth can produce. The industrialist also sees industry as the answer to all worries. The more we prrogress with technology then the more we can provide for us now, and for the future.

Berry says that there is a middle ground between the naturalist, the industrialist and the earth. The Naturalist has to concede that the industrialist has helped better the existence of life for all humans. The Industrialists has to realize the constant over exposure of nature’s resources will deplete them and that they are not finite. Finally, both the naturalist and the industrialist must see that both paths lead us back to our dependency on earth as both a producer and a protector. Problem

The current, and future, human influence on planet earth is directly related to how human’s perceive there own accountability for their actions. This is where both Hardin and Berry come together. Their ideas of how crucial human interaction is in regards to the future of our resources are the basis for both papers. Although in different sense, both writers make reference to the susceptibility of humans to be...

Cited: (
 De Young R. and S. Kaplan (2012). Adaptive muddling. In R. De Young and T. Princen [Eds.] The Localization Reader: Adapting to the Coming Downshift. (Chapter 22, Pp. 287-298) Cambridge, MA: The MIT (HTTP
Hunter, Lori, Environmental Implications of Population Dynamics, MR-1191-WFHF/RF/DLPF, 2000, 97 pp., ISBN:
Miller, Tyler; Spoolman, Scott; “Living in the Environment: Custom Edition”. cc Cengage Learning; 2011
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