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Living Within Limits

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  14 reviews
"We fail to mandate economic sanity," writes Garrett Hardin, "because our brains are addled by...compassion." With such startling assertions, Hardin has cut a swathe through the field of ecology for decades, winning a reputation as a fearless and original thinker. A prominent biologist, ecological philosopher, and keen student of human population control, Hardin now offers ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1993)
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Richard Reese
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Garrett Hardin (1915-2003) was famous for an essay, The Tragedy of the Commons, written in 1968. He thought that folks who kept their cattle on common lands had little concern for the condition of the pasture, while private pastures befitted from the careful stewardship of wise ranchers. In 1998, in response to critics, he published The Tragedy of the Commons — Extension, in which admitted that a better title for his essay would have been The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons.

I was unsure of his
Samuel Peck
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting and, at times, strange book. Hardin asks some hard questions about some hard truths and does not shy away from societal taboos.

Hardin is/was a real multidisciplinary thinker who has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about overpopulation, one of the main causes, in my opinion, of many of today's problems which include environmental damage. Could see why Charlie Munger had recommended this book, given his support for multidisciplinary thinking.

The book is packed w
James Petzke
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
Lots of good here, but it's outdated, gets a lot of things wrong, and isn't well focused.
Apr 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is an engaging, iconoclastic, and well-written book. Even when I did not agree with Hardin's position, I still appreciated the vigor of his argument. To get a sense how this argument runs, here are excerpts from a summary of the book I am writing for one of my urban planning classes.


Hardin argues that four centuries of technological progress have blinded us to resource limits. ...

Hardin cites perpetual motion machines and compound interest as examples of this faith. Inventor after inv
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hardin vezette be az okologia koceptumjat a kozgazdasag melle. Tulpopulaciorol ir, hogy nincsen szabadulas a foldrol tehat a problemat vagy mi oldjuk meg vagy pedig, mivel a populaciot negativ feed-back rendszer szabalyozza (amit o Malthusi demostatnak nevez) felprobal hivni a problema fontossagara es felelossegre szolit fel. Megoldast nem ad, mint mindenki o is leirja hogy vagy mi emberiseg jovunk egy megoldassal, vagy pedig a fold a sajar megoldasaival fogja megoldani a tulpopulaciot, azaz ehs ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those who understand that overpopulation is the number one environmental threat, Garrett Hardin is author that they will eventually land upon to clarify their main arguments. Hardin is famous (or infamous depending upon your viewpoint) for his philosophical arguments concerning ecology, economy and population: the three go together. Hardin sums up what we all know either consciously or unconsciously. His book, while thorough and easy to read, is solid, leaving no ground unbroken.
Living Withi
We used Living within Limits as a book in our virtual reading group.
Heath Ochroch
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Resources increase arithmetically, populations increase geometrically. This is a Big problem.

It is considered morally wrong to limit the amount of children one may have. This may sound like the way it has always been, but there has not always been a welfare system to feed every child born. In the 1700s, a woman was free to have 10 kids, but only two might actually survive to produce children of their own.

Population can be thought of like a thermostat. When populations get too high, wars, famine
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the best under-the-radar books I've read. Makes me question why both Mr Hardin and his work isn't better known worldwide.
It's a truly rational and thoughtprovoking account on ecology; the effect overpopulation and poor human rationale has on the economy, politics, the environment, etc.
So much wisdom, should really be compulsory reading in schools worldwide.
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book belongs to the general subject of ecology and under the subheading of population studies. It seems to address the general readership with an interest in ecology, demography and economics. The book appeaes well paced and thoroughly indexed. It has insightful graphs and an enlightening anthology of literature of special relevance to the matter at hand. Highly recommended.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very challenging book to read in terms of content, but this is what I think makes it a great book. I personally found the flow of the chapters at the beginning difficult to follow due to the style of writing but this got better throughout the book.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great book about the interdependency of ecology and economics!
Sep 01, 2009 marked it as to-read
By the author of that epic paper "The Tragedy of the Commons".

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Jan 03, 2014
Matt Backes
Interesting perspective from an ecologist's point of view. Do we have too many kids? Do we consume too many materials? Good questions to reflect and make personal answers.
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Garrett James Hardin was a leading and controversial ecologist from Dallas, Texas, who was most well known for his 1968 paper, The Tragedy of the Commons. He is also known for Hardin's First Law of Ecology, which states "You cannot do only one thing", and used the familiar phrase "Nice guys finish last" to sum up the "selfish gene" concept of life and evolution.

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