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    Tragedy of the Commons: What It Is & 5 Examples

    The tragedy of the commons explains many of today's sustainability issues. We explore 5 different tragedy of the commons examples.

    TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS: WHAT IT IS AND 5 EXAMPLES

    06 FEB 2019

    Alexandra Spiliakos Staff

    Business Essentials Decision-Making

    Sustainable Business Strategy

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    Have you ever stopped to wonder about the environmental impact of your favorite everyday items? Perhaps they have a positive effect on the environment. Maybe that’s even why you chose to buy them.

    But let’s imagine for a moment that’s not the case and your favorite things aren’t great for the environment. What if their production or use actually threatens the ecosystem? Or worse, what if your consumption might threaten the existence of your favorite products?

    You might be thinking, “It can’t be. None of my favorite things threaten the sustainability of our ecosystem.” But it turns out there are many goods that are being produced unsustainably, endangering resources, or negatively impacting the environment.

    WHAT IS THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS?

    The tragedy of the commons refers to a situation in which individuals with access to a shared resource (also called a common) act in their own interest and, in doing so, ultimately deplete the resource.

    This economic theory was first conceptualized in 1833 by British writer William Forster Lloyd. In 1968, the term “tragedy of the commons” was used for the first time by Garret Hardin in Science Magazine.

    This theory explains individuals’ tendency to make the best decisions for their personal situation, regardless of the negative impact they may have on others. An individual’s belief that others won’t act in the best interest of the group can lead them to justify their selfish behavior. When facing the use or potential overuse of a common or public good, individuals may act with their short-term best interest in mind, for instance, using an unsustainable product, and disregard the harm it could cause to the environment or general public.

    It’s helpful for both firms and individuals to understand the tragedy of the commons so they can make more sustainable and environmentally-friendly choices. Here are five real-world examples of the tragedy of the commons, and an exploration of the solution to this problem.

    5 TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS EXAMPLES

    1. Coffee Consumption

    While a simple cup of coffee might seem harmless, coffee consumption is a prime example of the tragedy of the commons. Coffee plants are a naturally occurring shared resource, but over-consumption has led to habitat loss that has endangered 60 percent of the plants' species—including the most commonly brewed Arabica coffee.

    2. Overfishing

    As the global population continues to rise, the food supply needs to increase just as quickly. However, overhunting and overfishing have the potential to push many species into extinction. Overfishing of the Pacific bluefin tuna has caused an all-time population low of approximately three percent of their original population. This not only endangers the Pacific bluefin tuna, but also risks further marine ecosystem endangerment as a result.

    3. Fast Fashion

    Overproduction by fashion brands has created extreme product surplus to the point that luxury brand Burberry burnt $37.8 million worth of its 2018 season’s leftovers to avoid offering a discount on unsold wares. Furthermore, as new trends emerge rapidly due to the Internet and social media, consumers are constantly purchasing new clothing items and disposing of old, out-of-trend items that ultimately end up in landfills and contribute to pollution.

    4. Traffic Congestion

    Traffic congestion is one of the best-known modern examples of the tragedy of the commons. According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, air pollution from traffic congestion in urban areas contributes to more than 2,200 premature deaths annually in the United States alone. As more people decide that roads and highways are the fastest way to travel to work, more cars end up on the roads, ultimately slowing down traffic and polluting the air.

    5. Groundwater Use

    In the United States, groundwater is the source of drinking water for about half the population, and roughly 50 billion gallons are used each day for agriculture. Because of this, groundwater supply is decreasing faster than it can be replenished. In drought-prone areas, the risk for water shortage is high and restrictions are often put in place to mitigate it. Some individuals, however, ignore water restrictions and the supply ultimately becomes smaller for everyone.

    WHAT’S THE SOLUTION TO THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS?

    How would you react to discovering that your consumption habits are depleting natural resources? You have two primary options:

    Boycott the products or brands causing the alleged harm and find an alternative, sustainable way of getting your fix.

    Carry on with what Sustainable Business Strategy Professor Rebecca Henderson calls, “business as usual,” ignoring the impact of your consumption habits. After all, it’s easy to justify that your boycotting the product won’t make a large enough impact to make a difference.

    The tragedy of the commons shows us how, without some sort of regulation or public transparency of choices and actions associated with public goods, there's no incentive for individuals to hold themselves back from taking too much. In fact, individuals may even have a “use it or lose it” mentality; if they’re aware of the inevitability that the good itself will be depleted, they may think, “I better get my share while I still can.”

    Source : online.hbs.edu

    Which of the following scenarios is the best example of the "tragedy of the commons"?

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    Environmental economics

    Which of the following scenarios is the best example of the "tragedy of the commons"?

    Which of the following scenarios is the best example of the "tragedy of the commons"? Question:

    Which of the following scenarios is the best example of the 'tragedy of the commons'?

    (i) A group of farmers forming a collective to coordinate a common pricing strategy.

    (ii) Users of a shared shower in a dorm allowing the shower to get nasty by failing to clean it often enough.

    (iii) Two countries engaged in international trade of a good reach the same equilibrium price that is higher than it would have been in the absence of trade.

    (iv) A country experiencing widening income inequality as evidenced by a growing Gini coefficient.

    (v) All artists in a mass-media environment facing an incentive to create works that are lower quality in an attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    The Tragedy of Commons:

    In social science parlance, the tragedy of commons is defined as the situation where people act in their self-interest, in contrast to the common good, for using the resources and hence may eventually spoil those resources.

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    The correct answer to the given question is (ii) Users of a shared shower in a dorm allowing the shower to get nasty by failing to clean it often...

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    Tragedy of the Commons Theory: Definition & Examples

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    Chapter 23 / Lesson 6

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    Learn what defines Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons, how it impacts the environment, other real-life examples, proposed solutions, and criticisms.

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    Ap Environmental Science: The Tragedy of the Commons Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards terms like what suggests that individuals will use shared resources in their own self-interest rather than in keeping with the common good, thereby depleting the resources?, the tragedy of the commons applies to numerous _____, _____ and _____ phenomena and has particular relevance to greenhouse gas regulation related to global warming, what is the costs or benefits of a good or service that is not included in the purchase price? and more.

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    what suggests that individuals will use shared resources in their own self-interest rather than in keeping with the common good, thereby depleting the resources?

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    tragedy of the commons

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    the tragedy of the commons applies to numerous _____, _____ and _____ phenomena and has particular relevance to greenhouse gas regulation related to global warming

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    environmental, economic, social

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    1/23 Created by maria_trann

    Terms in this set (23)

    what suggests that individuals will use shared resources in their own self-interest rather than in keeping with the common good, thereby depleting the resources?

    tragedy of the commons

    the tragedy of the commons applies to numerous _____, _____ and _____ phenomena and has particular relevance to greenhouse gas regulation related to global warming

    environmental, economic, social

    what is the costs or benefits of a good or service that is not included in the purchase price?

    externality

    the smell of bread from a local bakery is what type of externality?

    postive

    air pollution from a factory is what type of externality?

    negative

    many economists feel that _____ or regulation is the only solution to the problem of tragedy of the commons

    private ownership

    who showed that self-regulation by resource users can prevent tragedy of the commons?

    elinor ostrom

    what are managed for scientific, educational, recreational use, takes up 2.7% of earth's area, and has usually no extraction of resources?

    national parks

    what are postive externalities of national parks?

    conservation, tourism

    what are the negative externalities of national parks?

    displacement of indigenous peoples

    where is the sustained use of biological mineral, and recreational resources take place?

    national forests

    _____ are managed to maintain biological communities (fire prevention, predator control) ex: galapagos

    habitat and species management areas

    strict nature reserves and wilderness areas protects _____ and _____

    species, ecosystems

    ______ is the nondestructive use of natural resources with opportunities for tourism and recreation

    protected landscapes and seascapes

    what are examples of protected landscapes and seascapes?

    orchards, villages, beaches

    _____ are unique sites of special natural or cultural interest and with 20,000 around the world

    national monuments

    what are 5 us public lands?

    rangelands, national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges, wilderness areas

    people should _____ resources use based on the greatest good for everyone

    maximize

    who needs to consider the resource or monetary value of nature?

    policymakers

    competing interests leads to?

    multiple use lands

    multiple use lands are classifications used to _____lands that may be used for recreation, grazing, timber, harvesting, and mineral extraction

    designate

    which of the following is the best example of the tragedy of the commons?

    a. water pollution from oil rigs concentrated in the gulf of mexico

    b. an increase in the concentration of a toxin as it goes through the food chain

    c. the use of invasive as a biological control

    d. the over harvesting of fish from privately owned lakes

    a

    man communities experience the tragedy of the commons. one way a local community might regulate a shared and limited resource and reduce the tragedy of the commons is to

    a. eliminate ownership of the resource and make them available to all

    b. reduce the cost of access of the resources

    c. offer subsides to users of the resources in the form of tax breaks

    d. divide the resource into parcels and assign them to individuals

    d

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