This really doesn\’t bode well. While they\’ve a very good economist on the panel; (Sir Partha Dasgup[ta, who really does know what he\’s talking about) they\’ve also got Johnny Porritt who would put all into full body condoms.
An example of misunderstandings:
Many resources are subject to collective action
problems: if each actor pursues what is in his or
her short-term interest, things will go much less
well than if all agree to abide by rules that are in
the common interest. Collective action problems
are sometimes thought to arise inevitably from
common ownership of resources, but this is not
the case. Hardin (1968), in coining the phrase
the “tragedy of the commons” assumed that
common ownership of physical resources such
as fields and lakes is problematic because it will
be in the interest of each to consume more of
the resource than is sustainable. Thus, on
Hardin’s analysis, shepherds will tend to
overgraze a field which is held in common, as
each shepherd seeks to ensure that he or she
has as many sheep as possible, and that each
sheep is well-grazed. If all (or most) shepherds
behave in this way, then the commons will
become overgrazed, and its ability to support
sheep will soon be destroyed.
However Hardin was mistaken to assume that
all commons are open access, and can be used
by anyone without control or rules. Almost
all commons are closed access, with distinct
rules and norms. Closed commons are and can
be regulated in such a way that they can be
successfully protected and sustained. (Ostrom
1990). Nonmaterial goods, such as knowledge,
which are also vital for human wellbeing, are
not subject to scarcity and can be provided
for all without being in any way degraded
That just isn\’t what Hardin said.
What he did say is that open access commons, where demand is greater than capacity for renewal, would face such tragic problems. Therefore, as demand rises and Marxian (his phrase) access is no longer viable therefore there has to be some form of restriction of access. Which can be social (socialist) or private property (captialist, again, his descriptions) in form.
Quoting Ostrom doesn\’t invalidate his point: she has studied (very well and very interestingly) extant commons. Which gives us survivorship bias. Those commons still exist because they have access managed and thus haven\’t been wiped out by open access.
Hardin could be disproved by showing that all commons everywhere all the time have been successfully so managed: but the non existence of the passenger pigeon, the near extinction of the American buffalo would, the exticntion in fact of the magafaiuna just as human beings turn up would militate against that idea.
That currently extant commons are managed can be taken as a proof of Hardin, not a refutation. Because, you know, he said that in order to continue to exist they must be managed?