I have just read an article by George Monbiot dismissing the Tragedy of the Commons because it is used to justify privatization. He has been misled by this specious use of the Tragedy. All Hardin actually proposes in his classic essay on the topic is ‘mutual coercion mutually agreed upon’, which is exactly what must happen.
(Correction, should have happened some time ago)
George is not the only one who has been misled in this way. As Kate Raworth points out, Elinor Ostrom also mistakes carefully regulated communal arrangements for true open access commons. Better current examples are fishing outside territorial limits and above all the use of the atmosphere as a CO2 sink.
I would appreciate George’s comments on my weblog ‘Page’ on the real, very different basis of the ‘Tragedy’. Please read that ‘Page’ for a fuller explanation, but as long as growth remains the dominant orthodoxy, privatization, contrary to being a cure for the Tragedy, is a pretext to disrupt existing sustainable arrangements.
The real reason is that humans are at the end of an epoch when growth has been feasible. This time limited epoch was due to our capabilities not possessed by our hominid ancestors. But the buccaneering optimum strategies to take advantage of opportunities for growth suddenly become the worst possible strategies when preserving the ecosphere, on which all life depends, becomes paramount.
Not only should this be obvious if homo really is sapiens, but the warnings have been getting steadily more strident ever since Limits to Growth flagged up a problem in 1972.
The obvious has not merely been ignored, there has been a massive denial campaign. The deniers used the same successful strategy as enabled the tobacco industry to continue making profits for several decades.
There are two interlocking reasons why this has happened: the logic of the Tragedy is that, as Hardin said, there must be mutually agreed coercion – world wide. Interlocking with this rather tall order, humans are hard-wired against loss in the here and now, even small losses, so no politician dare suggest downsizing.
What really grieves me is that no one else, certainly no one who has the ear of the public, appears to grasp the need for something which guarantees security in downsizing. George Monbiot, Kate Raworth, David Attenborough, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and even Greta Thunberg make their passionate appeals without seeming to realize this need.
I am trying to get a response form Rupert Read,. He is less famous, but I have read his hard hitting IFLAS lecture
I have of course appealed to all of them without reply, but Greta has not yet had time.
Meanwhile see the following Twitter exchange on 28th Jan (‘fraid I am not savvy enough to link it):
In the midwest windchill temperatures are reaching -60C [Scientists] What the Hell is going on with global warming??
Glad you asked. The polar vortex is supposed to stay at the North Pole, but dwindling sea ice (from climate change) has caused the vortex to split in three places. Splits like this will become more common as climate change worsens.