Environment and Society 2

The Tragedy of the Commons is a story about a vast area of pasture that is available to anyone who wants to use it. Local ranchers begin to use the fields to graze their cattle as they pleased. Before long one would have more cattle than another or they would graze further out into the pasture than the others.  It was seen as unfair for one rancher to benefit from ‘the commons’ more than another so everyone began using the same practices. In game theory this situation is called the prisoner’s dilemma. This is where there is an inability to communicate and the ranchers reason to action so they will receive an immediate gratification, but in the end they become lesser off. In this situation, all of the ranchers will eventually overgraze and trample with field with their cattle making it difficult for the grasses to continue to grow an provide nutrients for the cattle.

It can be understood how this would happen in life because the ranchers act in a way the will benefit their business over any other, with little consideration of the costs. Unfortunately, the way ‘the commons’ is setup if one rancher from the story had recognized the importance of maintaining the ecosystem of the land and wanted to conserve it, he would gain nothing from it. While one rancher reduces his use of the land, others would willingly take over his portion and continue to abuse the pastures, meaning that the ranchers actions didn’t help ‘the commons’ or his business. But the blame for overgrazing cannot be placed onto one rancher alone. When there was no rule to be broken or authority to regulate the land there is no way these actions can be prevented from happening. This is why we need sustainable institutions set in place to regulate these affairs.

The text discussed how there were some key factors that go into forming a sustainable institution such as boundaries, proportionality, collective choice, monitoring, sanctions, conflict resolution, autonomy. All of these concepts hold a keys role in maintaining a balanced structure of nature, authority, and fairness. The United Nations conference of Environment and Development (UNCED) is successfully raising awarenees for the need to integrate development and the environment. They use pillars representing sustainable development since 2002. These pillars are way to look at incorporating social, economic, and environment principles at the global, national, and regional level. The recognize the need for United Nations agencies, programs, funds, financial institutions, and mandates to integrate sustainable development.


One Response to Environment and Society 2

  1. […] 8: Robbins, Hintz, and Moore, Environment and Society (second half) – […]

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