Historical Commons Monday: The Tragedy of the Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons

This concept was introduced and popularized by ecologist Garrett Hardin in 1968. In his influential article in the journal Science, Hardin argues that the commons have a problem that is inevitable (tragic) unless human values and morals are fundamentally changed.

Hardin’s view is that if people using the commons are allowed to use the land as much as they like, they will always continue to increase their individual usage to the detriment of the commons as a whole. This is because, as Hardin says, putting one more cow in a pasture wholly benefits the person who owns the cow, while the damage to the commons by the additional cow’s grazing needs is spread out among all the users of the commons. This makes it seem acceptable to people to increase the strain on the commons for their personal benefit, but once everyone begins to do the same it spells disaster for the commons itself. Hardin articulates the inevitability of the problem in an unregulated commons:

“Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another; and another. . . . But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit--in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”
Hardin, Garrett. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science 162, no. 3859 (1968): 1243 – 1248.

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Featured Website Friday:

"Shareable is a nonprofit online magazine that tells the story of sharing. We cover the people, places, and projects that are bringing a shareable world to life. And we share tools and tips to help you make a shareable world real in your life.

In a shareable world, things like clothing swaps, childcare coops, potlucks, carsharing, community gardening, and cohousing bring us together, make life more fun, and free up time and money for the important things in life. When we share, not only is a better life possible, but so is a better world.
The remarkable successes of Zipcar, Wikipedia, Kiva, open source software, Freecycle, and Creative Commons prove this. They tell a hopeful story about human nature and our future, one we don't hear enough in the mainstream media.

They show what’s possible when we share. They show that we don't act merely for our own good, but go to great lengths to contribute to the common good. They show new ways to work together that will help us resolve the social and environmental crises we face, and perhaps thrive as never before. They show that a new world is emerging where everyone can share, where the more you share the more respect you get, and where life works because everyone is motivated to help each other." looks at life, art, work, enterprise, cities, civic systems, science, technology and ecosystems providing users and readers with different tools through community building, commons ideas, and many others. Take the time to look at as it is a very useful and informational.

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Cape Wind: The Nations First Offshore Wind Farm

United States Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar approved the nation's first offshore wind farm yesterday. The Cape Wind project is going to be placed in the Nantucket Sound and the government hopes this will begin a new era of clean energy. The 130 foot turbines will be constructed by Cape Wind Associates and the project will create over 1,000 construction jobs and put Massachusetts on the map as the national clean energy leader. There has been many opposition groups to the proposal including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound who are currently working to see an injunction to prevent construction from commencing. To read more about the article click HERE

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Wacky Technology Wednesday: NASA's Puffin, The Personal Electric Air Vehicle

The Puffin is NASA's Personal Electric Air Vehicle. It is a single seated electric powered airplane. Creator of the Puffin, Mark More, wants the vehicle to be a combination of a helicopter and a plane. At 12 feet long and having a 14.5 foot wingspan the Puffin can get up to 150 miles per hour and weighs only approximately 180 kilograms. The vehicle has already received a lot of internet media and hype which makes the designer believe that the vehicle will be a success. Designed to look like a large bird flying through the sky, the Puffin can be called "the most environmental friendly bird" as it has no emissions. Currently NASA is working towards creating a one-third size model to experiment with. To read more about this wacky technology click HERE

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Text Messaging Helps Eradicate Malaria

On the continent of Africa, where Malaria is most prevalent, a pilot program has been created by IBM, Novartis and Vodafone using text messages and Google Maps software to track inventory of malaria medications and thus increasing the chances that clinics will have the correct amount of life-saving medicine on hand. Simple solutions like this can have dramatic outcomes. Each week the malaria clinics receive a text message asking them to report their supplies. This data is pulled together to update the database which keeps track of which clinic is running out of what medications. By using the innovative technique the clinics are doing away with a previously used paper based system. This helps to shorten the length of time the clinics have to wait for supplies, which in previous months have gone months waiting for fresh supplies.

Most people think that this serves great purpose to the clinics, however, as stated in Eliot Van Buskirk's article what many people forget is the cost of life associated with the mining of the metals that go into the production of cell phones. One of the war-torn areas affected by the minerals trade associated with cell phones is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is rich in natural resources, however the majority of the mines from which the minerals are extracted are under control of armed groups and are constantly in conflict. These armed groups control and profit from the trade of these minerals and their control has led to mass human rights abuses including sexual violence, child and slave labor, and mass displacement.

The Global Innovation Commons provides technology that can be deployed immediately to malaria stricken countries in an effort help prevent and eradicate the horrible illness. Hopefully we can work together to decrease the number of deaths associated with malaria and work towards a better future.

For More on this article click HERE
To Read More on Amnesty International's Push for the passing of the Conflict Minerals Trade act of 2009 click HERE

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Historical Commons Monday: The Rights of Common

England, 1858- The Rights of Common

The Commons refers to resources that are collectively owned. In England this concept created a way to live.

The Right of Pasture
People living in the forest can let their ponies and cattle out to graze in the common fields.

The Right of Sheep
People living in the forest can let their sheep out to graze int he common fields.

The Right of Mast
People living in the forest can let their pigs out in the Fall when acorns drop off the trees to eat the fallen acorns and bark (pannage).

The Right of Fuelwood
People living in the forest can gather wood from the trees to use in fires.

The Right of Marl

People living in the forest can dig up clay that acts as a fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil on their land.

The Right of Turbary

People living in the forest can cut peat (layers of dead plant remains found in marshlands) to use in fires.

7. Rydin, Yvonne and Tove Matar. “The New Forest, England: cooperative planning for a commons.” In Networks and Institutions in natural resource management, ed. Yvonne Rydin and Eva Falleth, 37. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2006. Available from dq=Networks+and+institutions+in+natural+resource+management&cd=1# v=onepage&q=&f=false. Internet; accessed 28 January 2010.

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Featured Website Friday: Global Urban Development (GUD)

Today we feature one of our deployment partners, Global Urban Development (GUD). They focus on enabling every community to peacefully grow and thrive. By bringing the Urban World closer together they hope to create a unified conversation about the future of the world itself. The network is led by the United Nations, the World Bank, and other related institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Take a moment an check out their website

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Happy Earth Day!

Earth day was created to raise awareness for the Earth's environment in 1970. The first Earth day was established when the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson announced his idea for a day focused on the environment. He hoped that this day would create a time of observance of environmental problems that were sweeping the nation. As word got out to the universities and global awareness groups a grassroots movement began pushing for Earth Day to be nationwide teach-in day. Senator Nelson reported that "Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor the resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself." On the first Earth Day in 1970 groups protested about the deterioration of the environment and taught others of the changes that needed to be made in order to get our Earth healthy again.

Sixty Earth Days have come and gone since the first one and some how our environment has not taken a change for the better. We need to work together to stop the usual way of doing things and look for a new era. This change can be found in the Global Innovation Commons. Take today, Earth Day, and look at resources that are provided in the Global Innovation Commons and begin to create ideas as to how we can deploy them in every day situations and create a new Earth that is more efficient.

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Wacky Technology Wednesday: Solatube

The Solatube Daylighting System is one of the most technologically advanced day lighting products today. It provides pure, clear, and natural light for any interior space. By providing a cost-efficient lighting system the Solatube is green and can provide a boost on your physical well-being, concentration and energy levels. With Solar Energy being an affordable way to use the Earth's natural powers to provide humans the power we thrive on to live, Solatube is a great innovation.
The Global Innovation Commons provides other sources of solar power which can be deployed immediately and can be used to generate power. Please log in today and check out methods of solar energy that are public domain.
To learn more about the Solatube Click HERE

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IFC and Clean Energy Development Bank Make a Deal

The International Finance Committee (a member of the World Bank Group) and the Clean Energy Development Bank have decided to help increase the finances around sustainable energy and efficiency projects. Not only has the IFC been advising the Bank in its financial planning but also assisting in providing staff for evaluating proposals around the financing, product development and marketing, and engineering on the due diligence for the projects. Nepal is one of the countries that they hope to focus on offering assistance to the clean energy and hydro-power projects by way of private equity and advisory and consulting services.

We hope that those at IFC and the Clean Energy Development Bank think about using the Global Innovation Commons in their efforts. By using the lists of technologies provided they can begin to deploy solutions immediately at a cost-efficient price, saving all of those involved large sums of money that would be spent on proprietary technology.

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