The tragedy of the commons
- Hardin (US ecologist) - 'freedom in a commons brings ruin to all'
- If a pasture is open to all, each herder will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons.
- This will eventually generate tragedy as the number of cattle exceeds the carrying capacity of the land.
- Each herder calculates that the positive benefit of adding one more animal (in terms of eventual sale)
- Will always exceed the negative impact on the land.
- This leads to the importance of the 'global commons'/'common pool resources' (areas and natural resources that are unowned and so beyond jurisdiction)
1 of 3
Threats to global commons
Threats to global commons posed by:
- Resource depletion
- Habitat destruction
- Over - fishing
2 of 3
An unsolvable problem?
- Hardin: In favour of strengthened political control - restrict population growth - showing sympathy for the idea of world government.
- Liberals: To abolish the commons by extending property rights - allowing price mechanism to control resource usage.
- Ostrom (1990): Some societies have succeeded in managing common pool resources through developing diverse, bottom-up institutional arrangements.
- Socialists and Anarchists: Reject idea of 'tragedy of the commons altogether'.
- Historical evidence suggests common land was usually successfully managed by communities (Cox, 1985) e.g. Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
- Argument is circular: conclusions are implicit in assumption that human nature is selfish and unchanging (Angus, 2008)
- Ecosocialists - selfishness, greed and wanton use of resources are a consequence of the system of private ownershp.
- Community ownership engenders respect for the environment.
3 of 3
Similar Government & Politics resources: