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Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Hardin, Garrett; Baden, John
Book Title: Managing the Commons
Publisher: W. H. Freeman
Location: San Francisco
Page(s): 112-125
Date: 1977
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/85
Sector: Theory
Region:
Subject(s): common pool resources--theory
carrying capacity
environment--ethics
Abstract: From p. 112: "The carrying capacity of a particular area is defined as the maximum number of a species that can be supported indefinitely by a particular habitat, allowing for seasonal and random changes, without degradation of the environment and without diminishing carrying capacity in the future. There is some redundancy in this definition, but redundancy is better than inadequacy. Using deer as an example, the true carrying capacity of a region must allow for the fact that food is harder to get in winter than in summer and scarcer in drought years than in 'normal years.' If too many head of deer are allowed in the pasture they may overgraze it to such an extent that the ground is laid bare, producing soil erosion followed by less plant growth in subsequent years. Always, by eating the grasses that appeal to them, herbivores selectively favor the weed grasses that are not appealing, thus tending to diminish the carrying capacity for themselves and for their progeny in subsequent years."

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