[Coral-List] Tragedy of the commons (David Obura)

David Glassom Glassom at ukzn.ac.za
Thu Jul 25 13:14:17 UTC 2019

Dear David
It is a bit of a leap of logic and a bit of a low blow to equate my disagreement with a single author to a rejection of western science.  If you want to use scientific tenets, start with the paper's single most testable hypothesis and its main point:  that there is no technical solution to population growth.  Hardin concludes by re-iterating the point.  But we have 50 years of data to test the hypothesis, in the mode of western science and it does not hold up.  Population growth in most countries in the world is a fraction of what it was in 1970.  Between 1970 and 2016, fertility of women in Iran dropped from 6.44 to 1.66, in Cuba from 3.86 to 1.72, in Peru from 6.38 to 2.4 and in Rwanda from 8.23 to 3.89.  Some countries, including Kenya (8.08 - 3.85) still have high birth rates, but even then they are 30-60% lower than in 1970.  This decline was due not to coercive measures or changes in morality to allow such measures, as advocated by Hardin, but to changes in income, education and other social factors.  So the technical measure of improving living conditions is a solution to population growth.  Hardin may have been right that population growth is unsustainable, but his proposed solutions were off the mark and cannot inform our attempts to resolve the problem.  Reassessing hypotheses and conclusions, even of venerated papers, in light of new data is integral to western science, not a rejection of it.  Holding on to false conclusions?  Not so much.
Incidentally, this does not contradict anything you wrote in the pre-print to which you supplied a link, and with which it is easy to agree. However, as you point out, coral reefs will survive, or not, long before we can solve the problems of population and consumption.  So perhaps it is time to let this thread unravel.

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