Tragedy of Commons: Thinking other way can be a solution
While teaching the Natural resources to my students I usually ponder on the term “Tragedy of Commons” and I debate and discuss this term frequently with my colleagues in the staff room and every time I put a question regarding this term to see the response and the ideas that may be generated there in. I get different response and sometimes it takes me to beyond my capacity. It may look a very basic concern but it is complex, delicate and fragile. I usually talk about forests and water bodies, I talk about the trees that we plant, care, nurture in our own land and assume it own property. I ask my students what if anybody will cut down the tree. The responses are amazing, some say we will be harsh to the person, some respond we will curse on the person who will cut done the tree and many more and same type of response I get when I tell them if the well that is in front of your house will be polluted by somebody. Instantly, my second question to these young fellows are what will you do if, anybody will cut down the forest and you will be passing along or if anybody puts waste in the stream what will you do. Mostly, they say we will never bother, I may assume this a sincere and honest approach. But, here, is an indication why our natural resources have damaged and shattered and on a very real phenomenon, I refer this term as the tragedy of commons with hundreds of examples that I may quote within that class.
Presently up to 25,000 hectares of forests – 250 sq km, or more than twice Chandigarh’s area are handed over every year for “non-forestry activities”, including defense projects, dams, mining, power plants, industries and roads, the government told Parliament. The rate of “diversion”, as the process is called, varies across states. The dense forest areas in northern, central and southern Western Ghats have decreased by 2.84%, 4.38% and 5.77% respectively over the last decade as reported by TV Ramachandra.
Today most of our species are becoming extinct without our knowledge, due to over-harvesting, lack of will, lack of conservational measures and poor research. The vanishing of species meant that the Earth will become increasingly uninhabitable with the passage of time and the threat of global warming will boom us. The recent example of “Environmental Performance Index” of India is eyewitness of why “The Tragedy of Commons” must be addressed no longer than sooner. India has been placed at the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index 2018, sinking 36 points from 141 in 2016, according to a report published by Yale and Columbia Universities in association with the World Economic Forum.
I simply believe that “tragedy of commons” problems can surely be solved via social cooperation, either through government and Non-Government action, social norms, or some other yet method that conservationists may focus. Challenges are many till we can’t change our thinking, that every natural resource in fact is our own property, with which cooperation is necessary. We must realize that the air we breathe, the food we eat, the medicines that we get to treat diseases, the cloths we wear, the water we drink and all this comes from natural resources that are under great exploitation and we must try to remove the tag “Tragedy of Commons” from natural resources.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Science ITM University Gwalior)