Garrett Hardin’s “lifeboat ethics” essay addresses this question.8 Those
who argue that it is a global concern appear to avoid the issue of national sovereignty and responsibility in terms of both cause and remedies. Overlooked is the unforgiving fact that, regardless of an individual nation’s Footprint, in a world where nearly all nations exceed their maximum sustainable population level, at best, a zero-sum situation exists. Providing capacity to other nations implies reducing one’s own nation’s sustainable population level and Footprint —and continual declines in standard of living. In a literal sense —especially considering immigration— it also intimates that individuals in exporting nations are being replaced by those in capacity importing nations —those inhabitants in or from the other less well-situated and frequently unaccountable countries.
If Hardin’s “lifeboat” ethics and it displacement connotations is misplaced, then capacity-importing nations must be able to continue current practices without limit.