Tragedy of the Commons
- Please come up with a definition of the commons.
Commons in the context of the article means “public, communal”. Here, the author discusses global human problems as the problems of the Earth common for all humanity.
- What is the literal common example that Hardin uses to reveal his point?
Hardin uses the example of the common for the cattle owned by the herdsman. This is a relevant example for the description of maximizing the population and profit.
- Explain why a herdsman would add one cow to the pasture rather than not.
The herdsman always seeks for gaining more profit. As Hardin explains, adding another cow to pasture means getting more income from having an additional cow. Therefore, striving for additional gain, the herdsman will choose to have another cow despite the fact that extra cattle mean extra expenditures.
- Hardin’s thesis of this article is that population has no technical solution. What does he mean by this? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
Hardin means that the only resolution the population has for the global problems is developing some new engineering solutions for decreasing the harm made by the humankind. By this thesis, the author means that the problems are deeper than they seem to be, and technical solutions cannot provide the required basis for problems elimination.
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Yes, I totally agree with this statement since after solving one problem technically, the population would produce another problem. This is an endless chain, and technology cannot provide the necessary measures of control. Therefore, the technological solution sought for by the humanity cannot be found.
- Hardin talks about the maximum good to each person. What is most important to you, and what would you maximize?
For me, the most important good is wild nature unaffected by humans. I believe that the nature has its own laws and unique regulation processes which are so perfect that nothing can be added. However, people are trying to make the nature act as they want and where they want; therefore, the wild nature is becoming one of the rarest goods on the planet.
- Why are we interested in population control? What are the limitations on population?
It is generally known that the Earth is on the edge of overpopulation. There is famine in many countries; there is no place to live, nothing to eat, and nothing to wear in many places in the world. In addition, the population of the planet continues growing, which leads to the growth of people being on the breadline. The natural resources are used wastefully, nature is contaminated, and the growth of the population means greater harm to the planet. Therefore, the need for population control is obvious since by its limitation we can reduce the number of poor and homeless people and avoid overcrowding. The population limitation solution proposed by Hardin is laissez faire, i.e. allowing the humanity (and nature) to control the population number independently. The author points out that his would make the humanity reach the optimum of the population and after that stay stable.
- What solution would you provide if you were in charge?
If I were in charge, I would resort to population control. However, it would not be sterilization after the definite number of births and not the law forbidding having more than one child like in China. I would provide the law that legalizes not more than two-three living descendants from one parent. This would stabilize the Earth’s population and allow people having another child after losing the previous one.
- A finite world can only support a finite population. What do you think about this statement?
I agree with this statement since the current world’s situation shows that we are on the edge of all the resources exhaustion. The natural resources humanity uses, such as the woods, fish in the seas, and animals, are not endless; nowadays, people already see how some types of fish and animals become extinct because of human activity. The growing population led to intensification of natural resources use. Therefore, the faster population grows, the nearer is the exhaustion of the resources humankind uses. Nowadays, the population constantly grows, and the resources are finite, which should be taken into account.
- Hardin brought up the word carrying capacity when speaking of the commons. How would you define carrying capacity? What does the carrying capacity depend on?
To my mind, carrying capacity is the ability of land (or planet in this particular case) to provide necessary accommodation and resources for comfortable existence of the species. In Hardin’s article, carrying capacity is the area that can hold the cattle. The carrying capacity depends on the productivity (i.e. how much food it can produce) of this or that land, the number of species living on it, and the intensity of this land usage. These factors can both raise or reduce the carrying capacity.
- Hardin seems to believe that man believes it is always in his best interest to have many children. What might be some examples where this is not the case?
This is not always so since having children means expenditures. Therefore, in case a person (or a couple) is not not financially able to support more than one child, it is not his/her best interest to have more children. In addition, having a genetic disease (for example, degenerative disease) can be a preventive measure for having many children since it means causing them experience a constant fear of death and be disabled.