EXPLORING NEW ETHICS FOR SURVIVAL: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle by Garrett Hardin
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EXPLORING NEW ETHICS FOR SURVIVAL: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The science fiction parable of the spaceship Beagle traveling through the galaxies in search of a new home for a thousand earthlings is the capsule for biologist Hardin's (Nature and Man's Fate, 1959) ultra-serious ecological tidings. Following the Ecological Pogrom of the '70's, America's space program accelerates in the interest of Progress, the GNP, and keeping the attention of the ""Pee-pull"" riveted on something other than their dying planet. The not-so-symbolic point is this: the earth, like the Beagle, is Buckminster Fuller's spaceship, a closed system and there is no ""away"" where we can safely throw our refuse and pollutants. Technology will not help us, for technology is ""more hardware,"" a Newtonian response to a Darwinian universe where, as the ""econuts"" keep telling us, ""we can never do merely one thing"" without setting off a chain of side-effects which will assuredly intensify the disequilibrium. A genial, even whimsical storyteller-sage, Hardin is really a disguised Cassandra gradually laying bare the moral and economic assumptions which have governed our behavior during the 2000-year ""orgy"" of expansion and exploitation of irreplaceable environmental riches. Now the unchecked plunder of ""the commons"" -- air, water and land -- for private gain must stop and the cost of the clean-up will have to be internalized by widget-makers the world over. Nor can the ""right"" to bear children remain absolute and unrestricted. In the future we must con-template ""mutual coercion mutually arrived at"" -- accepting all the upheavals in our political and ethical world views this imperative dictates. Like Rachel Carson and Loren Eiseley, Hardin is a gentle humanist -- one who refuses to sentimentalize or fudge the hard choices which confront us. Lest we share the fate of the ""Quotions"" aboard the Beagle.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1972
Publisher: Viking