Tragedy of the Commons
Learning about the tragedy of the commons is as depressing as the title suggests. From the class activity, I gained some insights on the interactions within a community when they are given a finite amount of resources to share. Hardin shed some light on the issue, where he summarized that each time a commons is “enclosed” upon, it only leads to the “infringement of someone else’s personal liberty”.1 In the end, with the population size and demand for common resources increasing faster than the amount of resources available, it only leads to the inevitable outcome of insufficient resources to go around.
For the class activity, every group of 3-4 players was given a plate of 20 “fishes”. The game was to last for 5 rounds, which represented 5 years of fishing seasons. The fish were our livestock, and for every round, each player requires 1 fish to avoid starvation, 2 fish to be fed comfortably, and any additional fishes could be sold as profit. If the player received 0 fish in that round, the player was out of the game. Each round was to last for 30 seconds for players to fish for as many fishes as they want without communicating with each other. At the end of each round, the fishes left in the plate would reproduce and hence double the number. The table below is a summary of the game’s proceedings.
Round | Joan | Jacqueline | Sue-Ann | Number of fishes remaining |
1 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 13 |
2 | 3 | 3 | 3 | 11 |
3 | 3 | 3 | 4 | 10 |
4 | 3 | 4 | 3 | 10 |
5 | 6 | 7 | 7 | 0 |
Total number of fishes in the pond | |
When the first round began, I was torn between overfishing for myself so as to make a profit, or to take what is sufficient. I decided that my response would depend on the level of aggressiveness of the other players. If they were to take as many as possible, I would follow suit, as I would not want to lose out. As everyone only took 2 fishes, I took 3 fishes just in case I needed to make a profit. At... [continues]
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