“The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 20 March 2017

“The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin

. What shall we maximize?

  1. Hardin defines technical solution as such that “requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality”.
  2. Population grows geometrically or exponentially, but the world is finite. It means that in finite world there is support only for finite population. In other words, population growth should be at zero point.

  1. Tragedy of the Commons
  2. Man’ population problem is that the commons would be justified only under conditions when the density of population is low.
  3. Firstly the commons was abandoned in food gathering and in restricting fishing and hunting areas.
  4. Then the commons was seen as the place for waste disposal and it was also abandoned.
  5. Every new abandoning of the commons leas to infringement of personal liberty.

  1. Solution to population growth.
  1. There is a strong necessity to abandon the commons in breeding.
  2. Emergence of atomic energy led to the problem of overpopulation as people started to consume more energy than they require.
  3. “Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all”.

The Tragedy of the Commons

The article “The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin provides informative discussion of national security in the nuclear war, but the author wants readers to focus not on the subject of the article, but on the reached conclusion that no technical solution exists. Hardin defines technical solution as such that “requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality”. And she writes that technical solutions are always welcomed, but she wants to prove that no technical solution exists to what she calls ‘population problem’. The central thesis of the paper is that ‘population problem’ has no technical solution.

The author assumes that man’ population problem is that the commons would be justified only under conditions when the density of population is low or the problem of overpopulation would definitely worsen the problem. It is a matter of fact that world’s population has significantly increased over the past years and, therefore, the commons is nowadays abandoned in many spheres and aspects. For example, firstly the commons was abandoned in food gathering and in restricting fishing and hunting areas. However, the limitations aren’t complete all over the world. Then the commons was seen as the place for waste disposal and it was also abandoned. Actually, Western world widely accepts restrictions on waste disposal, but some are still fighting to “close the commons to pollution by automobiles, factories, insecticide sprayers, fertilizing operations, and atomic energy installations”.

Hardin is willing to say that every new abandoning of the commons leas to infringement of personal liberty. What is more awful is that such infringements are accepted as no one complained of the loss. Today people are likely to oppose proposed infringements as ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’. And Hardin asks what ‘freedom’ means. She defines ‘freedom’ as “recognition of necessity”. But she doesn’t agree that freedom is simply mutual agreement to prevent robbing and to promote more freedoms to people.

The key idea of the article is that people must realize that there is a strong necessity to abandon the commons in breeding because the problem of overpopulation can’t be solved by any technical solution. Population grows geometrically or exponentially, but the world is finite. It means that in finite world there is support only for finite population. In other words, population growth should be at zero point.

Further, Hardin reaches conclusion that the problem is in the acquisition of energy in the world. She means that emergence of atomic energy led to the problem of overpopulation as people started to consume more energy than they require. Population is provided with infinite source of energy producing in such a way inevitable problem. Hardin believes that “the optimum population is, then, less than the maximum”, but it is rather difficult to define as the optimum is enormous.

The problem of the commons is seen also in the pollution problem, especially in putting sewage, radioactive and chemical waste into the air, and they are dangerous fumes and gases.  The tragedy in such a way should be prevented by coercive laws and such taxing that would provide main pollutants with cheaper sources to fight the problem. Harding considers pollution problem as the direct consequence of population growth: the more people the more pollutants.  When population density increase, natural processes of recycling (biological and chemical) become overloading.

In conclusion, Hardin provides the only possible solution to the problem of overpopulation – abandoning the commons of breeding as “freedom to breed will bring ruin to all”.  She argues that the only way to nurture and to preserve natural resources and the world itself is to relinquish freedom to breed. Only under such circumstances it would be possible to put an end to the tragedy of commons as “individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring on universal ruin”.

References

Hardin, Garrett. (1968). The Tragedy of the Commons. Science, 162, 1243-1248.

 

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