The Tragedy of The Commons Revisited

Have you ever walked into the office break room and found that all three communal coffee pots had 1/8″ of an inch of burned coffee in them because no one made coffee, but all drank it? That’s the tragedy of the commons.

Have you ever worried about how some areas of the oceans are getting over-fished? That’s the tragedy of the commons.

If we’re concerned about the future, we need fewer things communally-owned, not more.

The column and video are fantastic.

Rio 20 Earth Summit: The End of International Environmentalism – Reason.com: Looking across the globe, it is the case that various aggregate environmental measures have deteriorated. Since 1992, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) claims [PDF] that biodiversity has declined by 12 percent, 740 million acres of primary forests have been cut down, and 85 percent of the all the fish stocks in the oceans are overexploited, depleted, recovering, or fully depleted. Are environmental calamities the result of rapacious capitalism? Not really. The same report notes that 80 percent of the world’s forests, which harbor the bulk of the world’s biodiversity, are government owned. In most parts of the world, government-owned nets out to owned by no one. Essentially these aspects of nature already exist in the commons for which many environmental commonists are agitating.