MathBench > Environmental Science

Tragedy of the Commons

Why I'd like to dedicate this module to Garrett Hardin

Garrett Hardin was a leading ecologist with a flair for memorable phrases and a knack for getting everyone angry at him.

According to Hardin, human overpopulation was the root cause of every ecological problem. He enraged conservatives by supporting abortion and assisted suicide (including his own at age 88) and he enraged liberals by publishing scientific arguments against aid to poorer countries.

Hardin's best-known essay, first published in the highly prestigious journal Science in 1968, was “The Tragedy of the Commons.” It became one of the most cited and reprinted pieces in ecological writing. It is thanks to Hardin that the concept of a “tragedy of the commons” is now a familiar one to many.    

In this module, you will be introduced to the “tragedy of the commons” concept and how it applies to the environment. I’ve also included many snappy little quotes from Hardin’s original paper, like this:

Picture a pasture open to all...