|Environmental Politics – 364.001 |
|Policy Analysis on Oil |
|Is oil the next tragedy of the commons and what policies can the United States implement to curb |
|consumption of oil |
In 1968, Thomas Hardin introduced the idea of the tragedy of the commons to the scientific community. This theory was published in the academic journal Science and immediately people began talking about the topic. The tragedy of the commons is the concept that when there is a given natural resource that the population of an area shares, that population will eventually exploit the resource to the point where is ceases to exist. (Hardin, 1968)
In Hardin’s thesis, he uses the example of a small town that raised sheep. The town had a pasture that housed all the sheep needed to sustain the town’s needs. The population of the town had been sustained though natural processes, but one day a man decides to see if he can maximize his personal gain. In order to maximize his gain, the man decides to add one more sheep to the pasture, after all, what impact is one additional sheep going to cause? Once this sheep is added to the herd, more and more townsmen decide to maximize their personal gains and add their own sheep to the pasture. Sooner rather than later, there are so many sheep in the pasture, that the pasture can no longer sustain the amount of sheep. The “common” of the pasture has been depleted because the townsmen have placed a limitless number of sheep on an area that has a limit. Because of this, the common good of the pasture has been ruined for everyone, as a result of the townsmen attempting to maximize... [continues]
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