Solutions to the Tragedy of the Commons
Many of the environmental challenges that we face as a species do have quite easy answers. We can change the way we behave – like stop burning fossil fuels for energy, or not flying so much. Once we are aware of the problems, we can work towards solutions. The main way to deal with these problems is through teaching people about them and then talking to each other and agreeing not to act in ways that hurt us in the future. Watch the TED talk by Erik Thulin (in our playlist here) about solving overfishing for a real-life example of solving a Tragedy of the Commons.
Working cooperatively, so that no one person, company or country takes advantage of the “commons” is a great way to solve the problem. Imagine again our farmers in the first example. They can talk to each other and agree not to have more than a certain number of animals, a total lower than the carrying capacity of the land. Everyone could continue to gain from the common grazing land, and it won’t become degraded and unusable. These solutions work for overfishing too. Another solution may be to keep a reserve of land back from grazing, or to rotate among other areas of grazing.
Can you think of some solutions to littering in the countryside or plastic pollution in the oceans?
Can you think of ways to make people/countries do this?