The Tradegy Of The Commons Essay

1082 words - 4 pages

The Tragedy of the Commons.The essay The Tragedy of the Commons makes many points that all lead up to a central idea. These points all revolve around the central idea that there is only a finite amount of land and resources available on the Earth. And that the population of the earth is either approaching or is already at the Earth's carrying capacity. The essay brings up the view that there is no technical solution to the problem of overpopulation and we need to try to develop other ways to limit the population growth instead of relying on technology to save us. Tragedy of the commons also touches on the point that "we" as a people want the maximum good per person. The debate however is over what that "good" is, for some it is wilderness area for hiking or fishing and for others that good is a housing development. The essay states the necessity for the population growth to near or become 0 (where births per year equal deaths per year). There is no prosperous population that has and has had a growth rate or zero. The comparison that the essay uses that of the commons to the earth. The common is a pasture that is open to herdsmen with cattle. At first the commons are fine because there are not enough herdsmen or cattle to approach the carrying capacity or the land. However after a while the carrying capacity of the land is achieved. The herdsman thinks to himself "what would happen if I added 1 more cow?" There is both a positive and a negative result to the herdsman for doing this. The positive component is nearly +1. This is because the herdsman does not have to share the cow with others. The negative component is only a fraction or -1 to the herdsman. This is because the negative repercussion of having another cow on the commons is shared by all other herdsmen. The essay relates the activities of the commons to what is taking place on the earth today. Many might argue that this tragedy only occurs on grazing land and has no relevance anywhere else. The essay however has another example that makes it apparent that this situation still pertains to common day situations. This example has to do with parking meters. In Leominster, Massachusetts parking meters were covered with bags that said "Do not open until after Christmas, free parking courtesy of the mayor and city council." This of course led to another situation of the "commons". Everyone used the parking more frequently and for longer periods or time and when someone needed to park there for shopping or business there were no spots available. The examples of the commons shows that too many people trying to use a set amount of resources leads to a severe problem. The key is the control the breeding rate and thus the population growth.Hardins results do have a few weaknesses however. His idea that there is no technical solution to the problem is rather narrow minded. Although I agree with Hardin that we should look for ways to lower the population through incentives or...

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