The Tragedy of the Commons
What the economists in this video are trying to show are the adverse impacts of using common pool resources on individuals and society as a whole. Based on the video, the use of common pool resources results in problems such as overfishing., deforestation, overgrazing, and depletion of nonrenewable resources (Mapelqvist, 2009). As much as these problems do not have significant effects on people’s lives, they contribute to them without even realizing they are doing so. In the video, for instance, when a person has a large heard of sheep, he is likely to benefit from an individual level, but this could be bad for the land over the long term (Mapelqvist, 2009). Keeping a large heard of sheep could pave the way for overgrazing and deforestation to have more land. Both overgrazing and deforestation are harmful not only to human but the environment as well. In society today, the number of cars used and bought every day is astonishing, and the level of pollution caused by these cars is unimaginable. The statement of the economists “Good for me, good for you, and bad for us” implies that use of common pool resources might be of benefit to individuals presently. Individuals might overgraze and cut down trees for their own use. However, in the long term, these resources will be depleted, and individuals will suffer rather than benefit from them (Hardin, 2009). Put simply; there will be a huge variation between the marginal cost and the marginal benefit of the common pool resources. This means that peoples profits from the resources would decrease significantly, hence the words “bad for us.”
People may benefit today from overusing common pool resources, but they will suffer in the long run. Some of the pool resources listed in the video include pasture, fisheries, and atmosphere. Pasture or forage is slowly becoming a common resource not only in the United States but around the world. The specific problem for pasture or forage is excessive grazing, which then exposes the pasture to further problems such as erosion making it less beneficial to people. It should be noted that like for other resources, people should exercise restraint and have a considerable amount of grazing annually a move that could cause less harm to pasture or forage (Hardin, 2009). Today’s society has shown commitment to protecting and mitigating the problem of overgrazing that has adverse effects on pasture. For instance, there are laws in place that limit or control the use of common pool resources such as pasture. For fisheries, the greatest problem is overfishing. Reports indicate that between 2005 and 2017, the amount of fish harvested in fisheries around the world has increased from 70 to 141 million tons. As a result, the population of specific species of fish has decreased significantly over the years, and this is a reason for concern. The most significant challenge for fisheries is that the amount of fish harvested is more than the population of fish (Hardin, 2009). To mitigate the problem of overfishing, society has come up with policies and legislation aimed at limiting the number of vessels in fishing areas such as seas and banning the use of specific methods of fishing such as the use of nets and fish traps. For the atmosphere, it has become a sink for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in recent years, and this has led to global warming that remains one of the world’s greatest challenges. The impact on the atmosphere is catapulted by the increased combustion of fossil fuels. However, society is trying to mitigate the problems facing the atmosphere by emphasizing the use of free energy sources as well as enacting legislation aimed at controlling carbon dioxide emissions.
Hardin, G. (2009). The Tragedy of the Commons∗. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 1(3), 243-253. Retrieved December 5, 2017, from http://cescos.fau.edu/gawliklab/papers/HardinG1968.pdf
Mapelqvist (2009, November 20). Tragedy of the commons. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNhr2RNhw5w&feature=related