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Michael DeMatteis

To take a more broader stance on Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons, I believe that most of what his argument, or thoughts, were based on a world that was relatively different than the one we currently living in and therefore cannot be truly applied to today's environment. I believe that Hardin did not appropriately account for the advancement of technology and industry in our society. What I garnered from Hardin's piece was that in order for an entity to utilize a resource there must be a cost associated with that use and due to said costs, resources would eventually be exhausted. In today's modern society I believe that industry and technology specifically can be used to negate a portion of the costs created by the use of resources. Hardin's argument is based on the fact that these costs cannot be reversed and hardly even prevented. The argument is based on a time where technology was just becoming a significant item. Over the past 50 years technology has increased exponentially. For this reason I believe that Hardin's argument does not currently hold as much weight as it did at the time when it was originally written. The practically limitless ability for technology to solve problems in today's world seems like something that Hardin thought to be an impossible scenario; I do not think that this was taken into account. We may not know how to utilize technology to decrease our harm on our resources and the environment but we certainly have made giant steps forward since the 1960's. Overall I believe that we can work together as a society to improve industry and technology so that a "tragedy of the commons" never occurs. I don't completely discredit Hardin's writing because I think it works as a warning sign and an eye opener as to how we treat the world around us. Moving forward though, we must keep the Tragedy of the Commons in mind as we develop industry and technology further. Opinions have changed since the time Hardin wrote his piece and I believe his writing had a large impact on social outlook on economics and the environment yet I believe it is a bit outdated to be completely applied to today's environmental and economic disputes.


I will also comment on Hardins paper.
While doing so I will argue that Hardin, who is demanding to eliminate certain rights and by doing so attacking the convictions of our liberal understanding, actually eliminates the solution to the growing population, so the problem he is trying to solve.

I base this claim on a fact that is especially apparent in again the western liberal societies and other developed, high income states all over the world.
Over the last decades the birthrates in those countries fell drastically!!

I think first of all because women are assured basic and equal human rights as man. By doing so women are granted the same (I know that this is not fully achieved yet unfortunately!) opportunities within our modern economies.
Zebrina and Caroline were hitting on a crucial point. Incentives.
In countries with exploding birth rates it does not seem to me that women are given any incentives to place their attention elsewhere than on family and children. (This obviously is bad development because of many other reasons than just overpopulation)

I want to focus briefly on a second reason, which is mainly based on my gut feeling. I don't have any evidence what so ever.
With the following two examples I want to hint at the influence of our economy on the understanding of children and especially on the question how many children one wants.
We are living in well fare states in which parents are not anymore depended on their children in high age. There is no necessity anymore to reproduce to assure ones one age.
Another reason might be that children are getting really expensive, because we want them to get the best education etc. It seems like people rather have one child that gets all it needs, rather than many that will not have the best circumstances.

To make my argument round. The solution to the problem of this limited world might be spreading the liberal convictions and economies, because they first of all assure basic rights for woman and secondly might have an essential influence on the understanding of offsprings.

I am interested in your opinions!!!!!

Genny Francis

I think it is interesting how he talks about increasing outdoor recreation and connecting individuals with the environment as a way to increase conservation, but he doesn’t discuss the negative impacts recreation in certain areas or tourism to scenic wonders could have on the environment. Especially if consumers demand for enjoying certain activities in a natural environment does not coincide with complete preservation of the natural environment. While I agree with what Andy said about car camping, I also wonder if car camping, which is a way to enjoy nature in relative comfort, will actually lead to a rise in more primitive outdoor activities, or if it might actually have the opposite effect, leading some people who might otherwise have gone backpacking to go car-camping instead.

Linda G.

Hardin’s essay was not only edifying and powerful but quite enjoyable to read. I believe the essence of Hardin’s essay has been specified in above comments a few times, so I’d like to respond a bit differently:
Humans are the problem, the cause, of most problems we face, though the effects unfairly dissipate on everything with which we interact. If possible, we ought to ameliorate what we’ve destroyed for decades, centuries. I think if population growth were to be minimized, education is the key to correcting humans’ mentalities, no matter how noticeably contrived and vague that sounds. Educating people, rather than attempting to get people to comply with reforms or coercions, seems to me the most reachable endeavor. But do we actually believe humans can stall the problem of overpopulation?
The subject matter is one I’ve been (abstractedly) thinking about occasionally, (more so just entertaining ideas and having fun over what would be a favorable solution to overpopulation).
I’m dabbling in a different puddle now but what if “nature finds a way” to eventually stall or cease population growth? (Channel Jurassic Park). Hardin, as many, many do and have done, seems to assume humans are the answer to fixing the “inescapable problem” of overpopulation. It’s as though we assume are the fixer-uppers. What if say… homosexuality suddenly became the answer to overpopulation and population growth were “geometrically” curbed?
Of course, we are shouldering the weight (and heavy it is) of the consequences of our carelessness, so attempting to better our oversights in hopes of betterment is commendable. Hardin gives the example of the American Bison we wasted (not to mention drove off cliffs to get rid of Native Americans). I’ll stand by what I said earlier: educating people, allowing people their right to a good education is the way in which to resolve what we’ve ruined.

Sara Cook

I found Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” to be a particularly compelling piece given the time it was composed. The 1960s were a prominent years for expanding environmental policy. The Clean Air Act of 1963 set aside money to study and cleanup air and pollution; the first list of Endangered Species was released in 1967; the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 required federal agencies to put together Environmental Impact Statement for legislation, to name a few. Each of these items can be classified as part of a command and control policy. Command and control policies have historically been decreed with a technical solution in mind. Hardin thoughtfully expanded on the idea that technical solutions are not always the answer and applied it primarily to growing human population and the commons, which tend to be open access resources. One consideration Hardin puts forth in the beginning of his argument is finding the optimal point of population and maximizing gains – in the example of herdsmen – both are forms economic efficiency. These solutions align with the idea of economic incentives being powerful solutions. Hardin's piece provides varying solutions to problems that are becoming more relevant today.

Matthew Moore

I thought that the section about there being no technical solution to some problems, such as national security in the nuclear arms race, to be very interesting. Each technological leap either increased the lethality of weapons or simultaneously increased security but also increased tensions, such as with the 'Star Wars' missile defense system.
I was also intrigued by the section about conscience being self-eliminating. I have seen similar arguments made about intelligence in advanced industrial countries (in that the more educated tend to produce fewer children than the relatively less educated, thus resulting in decreasingly intelligent generations). However, in each case, I am not sure that conscience is passed intergenerationally- I'd have to see some data on this to be swayed.

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