Preventing the Tragedy of the Commons

Photo courtesy of Flick Nekhiit Tumurbold

The concept of the tragedy of the commons is this: There are two cattle farmers that utilize an enclosed field. Both farmers have equal amount of cattle that they raise and sell to the market for slaughter. The commons is a field used for grazing and must be maintained equally by both farmers in order to sustain their businesses. Without a proper governing force to manage the amount of grazing each farmer does to feed their cattle, one may exceed the allotted amounts in order to augment their profits. This is done in self-interest, but produces an unsustainable business environment causing the commons to fall prey to dereliction. This environment will thus devolve making it impossible for either farmers’ cattle to graze the commons. This is the tragedy of the commons – without a force to regulate and enforce use of natural resources, rapacious self-interests causes individuals to utilize the environment past the point of saturation. This was a concept that originated in an 1833 essay by Victorian economist William Forster Lloyd that was popularized by ecologist and philosopher Garrett Hardin in 1968.

As an environmental activist, the stances our candidates take on environment regulation are paramount, but due to systematic construction a secondary issue at best. To fully combat the perniciousness of big multinational corporations on the environment, it is imperative that American leaders take a stance to reform campaign finance regulation. The latter is of utmost concern because of the more money an individual or business can contribute augments their voice. This is done by increasing campaign finance restrictions, furthering fundraising transparency, and revising the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling.

Returning on environmental policy, candidates must take a stand to protect the country’s and the globe’s air quality by strengthening fuel emission standards and subsidizing renewable energy research and development, subsidizing the transitioning of fossil fuel companies to utilize greener energy alternatives, ensuring that the Clean Water Act of 1972 return to its original protections by closing loopholes in the law, further the creation of national parks and reserves, and by augmenting the amount of H1B visas for individuals trained in STEM subjects to stimulate domestic research and development.

The Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton plans to defend, implement and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards; launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge; invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development; ensure safe and responsible energy production; reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and water; cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies; cut methane emissions across the economy; revitalize coal communities; make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities; and promote conservation and collaborative stewardship.

With particular interests in environmental stewardship it is paramount that the country combat the perniciousness of climate change with the same fever of our militaries in WWI and WWII – the United States Government needs to have a hand in transforming the national economy to mitigate the effects of climate change and serve as the global leader of the alternative energy transition as well as sustainability.