Lifeboat Ethics, By Garrett Hardin And Clark Wolf

1267 Words 6 Pages
Worldwide population growth is an issue that grows more and more urgent with each passing day. Our earth is nearing its capacity, and its important that we address this issue to avoid a worldwide state of emergency. Garrett Hardin and Clark Wolf both discuss this issue in detail, and offer their own solutions on how we should solve this problem. However, while Hardin presents a valid view of our world population problems, Wolf provides a more well rounded argument, and goes further to provide reasonable, effective solutions that target the true source of the issue.

Garrett Hardin, in his essay “Lifeboat Ethics,” describes the problem of current world population growth, and how we are making this already very serious issue even worse by living
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397) He informs us that we must discard the popular metaphor of Spaceship Earth and instead chose the metaphor of the Lifeboat. He explains that, although harsh, we have no other option but to allow no one else on our lifeboat, for if we do welcome the needy onto our lifeboat then “the boat is swamped, and everyone drowns. Complete justice, complete catastrophe.” (p. 396) According to Hardin, the allegory of allowing no one else on our lifeboat translates to offering no aid to poor and suffering countries. For if we do offer aid, in the form of food or handouts, he warns us of what he has coined as The Ratchet Effect: when “reproduction pushes the population upward, inputs from the world (food) bank prevent it from moving downward. Population size escalates, as does the absolute magnitude of ‘accidents’ and ‘emergencies.’ The process is brought to an end only by the total collapse of the …show more content…
Hardin suggests that we allow human population to “keep growing until environmental destruction and consequent resource scarcity cause widespread famine, bringing the death rate high enough to compensate for the birth rate.” (p. 268) Hardin’s narcissistic solution is really not a solution at all, but rather a call to non-action; a proposition that developed countries (specifically the United States) ignore the needs of poor countries, instead let them face devastation, so we can build the prosperity of our own nation(s). His proposal is greedy and neglectful. Wolf, on the other hand presents reasonable, mindful solutions. He expresses that if we want positive results, we must reject large-scale developmental growth in favor of small-scale, grassroots programs that “are far more likely to be effective in changing the fertility incentives of those whose needs are at risk.” (p. 272) Furthermore, after addressing the root cause of the issue, high fertility rates, Wolf goes on the offer practical policies that could be implemented to lower these high fertility rates, and ultimately slow the growth of population. He says we must reject the Malthusian approach of override policies for they do not get at the true reason for high fertility rates in poor countries, which most commonly is security for the elderly. Wolf proposes that we instead embrace

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