Moving climate change beyond the tragedy of the commons

Brown, Katrina, Adger, W. Neil, and Cinner, Joshua E. (2019) Moving climate change beyond the tragedy of the commons. Global Environmental Change, 54. pp. 61-63.

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[Extract] The Tragedy of the Commons argued that global human population was on a path of unsustainable growth through the use of a parable of over-grazing of livestock on common land (Hardin, 1968). The concept of 'the tragedy of the commons' largely assumes that individuals are solely motivated by self-interest, an assumotion increasingly at odds with insights across the social sciences (Van Vugt, 2009). The original article, and idea of the tragedy, has had a profound influence on science and policy across all environmental issues. In the five decades since its publication, a concerted scientific response by multiple disciplines, synthesised in Elinor Ostrom (1990), has deepened the analysis of the causes of environmental overexploitation. Such work has documented commons dilemmas and assembled evidence that collective action can be mobilised at various scales to avoid tragedies in population, in overfishing, in resource consumption, and in land degradation. Many argue, however, that global climate change represents the ultimate Hardin-style tragedy: the global commons of the atmosphere cannot realistically be enclosed or effectively managed, and power asymmetries and concentrated benefits from fossil fuel use mean that irreversible thresholds will be crossed before the costs are fully realised (Jamieson, 2014).

Item ID: 61998
Item Type: Article (Editorial)
ISSN: 1872-9495
Copyright Information: © 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2020 02:35
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability @ 100%
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