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SIMPLIFIER: “TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS



  May 23, 2024

SIMPLIFIER: “TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS



The “tragedy of the commons” is a principle in economics where individual users of a shared, limited resource act according to their own self-interest, leading to the depletion and degradation of that resource. This concept, first popularized by Garrett Hardin in 1968, has been widely observed in environmental science with examples including overgrazing, overfishing, and pollution.

Examples from Environment and Economics:

1. Overfishing: Individual fishermen might catch as many fish as possible to maximize their profits. However, without regulations, this behavior can lead to the depletion of fish stocks, harming the entire fishing community in the long term.

2. Deforestation: Landowners may cut down more trees than the ecosystem can replenish, leading to loss of biodiversity and disruption of the ecosystem.

Elinor Ostrom, awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, challenged the inevitability of the tragedy by showing that communities can successfully manage common resources through collective agreements and rules. Her research highlighted how local governance and community norms could prevent resource depletion.

Application to Low Earth Orbit:

The space just above our planet, known as low Earth orbit, is becoming congested with satellites and debris, posing risks of collisions and further space junk creation. This scenario mirrors the tragedy of the commons, where the unchecked use of space could lead to its unsustainable condition.

Possible Solutions:

• Regulations and Agreements: Just as fishery controls or forestry regulations help manage natural resources, similar international agreements can help regulate space activities.

• Technology for Debris Removal: Developing technologies to clean up space debris can help mitigate the risks, similar to how waste management practices have evolved on Earth to handle pollution.

By learning from environmental governance on Earth, spacefaring nations and private entities could establish effective frameworks to manage the orbital commons, ensuring its sustainability for future generations.



SRIRAM’s



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