Tragedy of the Commons Garret Hardin (Bio prof @ UCal Santa Barbara) wrote the essay way back in 1968… The gist: – a pasture is open to all for grazing livestock. – the more animals that graze, the more individual profit each farmer can make. – …but more animals eat more grass… – And eventually, the pasture is eaten bare and everyone has nothing!
Tragedy expanded… The analogy: the Commons/pasture represents a natural resource (air…the oceans…soil…etc.) If no one has control over it (to maintain it and keep it from being polluted or used up for greed and personal gain) it will soon be spoiled and useless. Does an auto manufacturer have the “right” to pollute the air that everyone breathes to increase profit?
- resource will be depleted through over-use: individuals are motivated to maximize their personal use of the common resource without the responsibility to maintain, replenish or manage it (sustainability)
Economics & the Environment (how economics affects environmental issues)
- supply & demand: item value increases with demand. ex: oil supply decreases/ we pay more; we find new energy source & use less oil, price ↓
- cost/benefit analysis: “green” cars cost more to make… auto company passes higher cost on to consumer; consumer pays higher price or “chooses” to pollute...
- risk assessment: Perceived danger of an act or process. Example: Is nuclear power “safer” than burning coal to produce electricity?
… unequal distribution of wealth & resources DEVELOPED Higher average income Slower population growth Diverse industrial/economic base Strong social support system DEVELOPING Lower average income Rapid population growth Simple agricultural/economic base Social support system weak or nonexistant
Ecological Footprint (expresses differences in consumption between nations) How much land is needed for food (crops & grazing) Forest products (home construction, furniture, etc.) Housing needs (material and space required) Impact on oceans & rainforests (CO 2 absorption from fossil fuel use)