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What are “the commons”? According to Garrett Hardin
the commons are the cultural and natural resources available to all the people
of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, soil etc. All of
these resources are held in “the commons”, and not private. In other words, the
commons are public resources belonging and affecting a whole community. All of
us, as a community, have control over the commons. The paper “The Tragedy of
the commons” by Garrett Hardin focuses mainly on the topic of overpopulation;
an issue that up to this day still affects our society. Hardin explains that
population keeps increasing and our resources grow only finitely. He portrays
the idea of the commons by arguing that many people pursue their own best
interest from a given source on a society that believes that the commons are
unlimited. Eventually this causes a tragedy of the commons which I believe
means when there’s not a balance. For example, as Hardin elaborates in an
analogy of herdsmen in an open pasture trying to keep as many cattle as
possible on the commons. At first, this works out due to tribal wars and
diseases keeping a balance on population. However, when everything becomes
stable each herdsman will seek to maximize his gain without limits in a place
that is scarce of resources, thus creating a tragedy. The herdsmen represent everyone
in our society and how we want to expand our resources as much as we can,
making the resources harder to find for others. There are many examples of
ongoing tragedy of the commons. One of them was previously briefly mentioned in
class. The ocean garbage gyres, this is an excellent example of a common that
is abused because it’s shared by all countries. There is no government has the
power to pass a law to protect the entire ocean. Instead each country focuses
on protecting the ocean that’s nearby their location. Leaving the shared space
vulnerable to pollution, the garbage has begun to accumulate in the center of
circular current all over these areas. Most of the countries allow solid waste
especially plastic pollutants to enter the ocean, causing a destruction of
ocean ecosystem. This problem keeps increasing throughout the years due to
overpopulation and the amount of garbage per person. Gradualism is a theory
which states that evolutionary change is slow and progressive. Furthermore, I
think the tragedy of the commons is gradualism, since many years ago this did
not seem like a problem. Nonetheless as population and the demands for goods of
people increase, the resources of goods keep getting scarce, creating an
inversely proportional relationship between people and the common goods. In conclusion,
there is no technical solution to solve this problem due to everyone not being
capable of making decisions for the best interest of society. Unfortunately, taking
away the right of individual liberty could be the only solution of preventing
the Tragedy of the Commons.


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