The devil in the number: Rethinking Garrett Hardin’s The tragedy of the commons and global overpopulation crisis
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Critiques about the misconstrued thesis of Garrett Hardin’s (1968) classic essay entitled The Tragedy of the Commons are well documented. However, little is known of the remote and proximate causes of the pejorative confusion about the vital essay. This article engages the discursive reconstruction of the thesis from the management of the commons to the original intent about the unscrupulousness of unchecked population growth as a critical factor to the looming collapse of the earth. Deploying an eloquent metaphor, the devil in the number, the article reinvents the illogic of overpopulating the world while simultaneously pursuing the technocratic solutions to nature’s burden. The article reports four marked factors that swayed perception away from Hardin’s thesis. The significance of Hardin’s essay for the overburdened ecosystem as the harbinger for the socio-economic and governance crisis across the global divides is also discussed.