Field of Science

Resource use and human nature

Having discovered him during my college years (yes, the Phactor was a student of the 60s), Garrett Hardin remains one of my favorite essayists. He always clearly saw the problem: human nature. One of his more influential and insightful essays, “The tragedy of the commons” (1968) pretty well explained why an ever increasing human population is destroying the commons: over fishing the seas, over harvesting the forests, over tilling the soil, over pumping/diverting the water, over polluting everything, etc.

So how to subvert basic human nature? Well, ask a psychologist, of course! Barry Schwartz writes a very thoughtful article, “Tyranny for the commons man”, on this subject that is well worth reading.


Harold Stiver said...

Very interesting article.

Its getting a bit overwhelming to see the world's resources being systematically demolished. Even on a local scale it is easy to see the gradual depredation of natural places.


The Phytophactor said...

Yes, at times it doesn't seem we'ver learned very much in the past 4 decades. And we still have people who thing human population growth is a good thing because we've constructed some of our institutions as semi-ponzi schemes, e.g., social security.