Tragedy of the Commons

When I was in my twenties, I wrote the philosophy department at UBC (University of British Columbia) and asked them if anyone had researched a particular class of social problem. They sent me back a paper called The Tragedy of the Commons about when pastures were owned in common in England, individuals would overgraze to the point the pasture was ruined for everyone. Greenhouse gas emission is another problem of that same class. Because each individual’s emissions are diluted and affect the entire earth equally, people see no necessity to cut back, even though it means destruction for everyone. If emissions were such that only the culprit felt the consequences and the culprit bore the full consequences, we would not have that much of a problem. It is a problem similar to littering, except the consequences are much more dire.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)