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August 28, 2008



Dunno if I can agree with you. Cod fisheries really did collapse because of commons issues, and other fisheries are collapsing today. The Sahara really was once a grassland before it was grazed down to nothing by nomadic herders. There are lakes and streams in China that are more pollutant than water. None of these are myths, all are instances of the tragedy of the commons.

If I hadn't been reading about overfishing just a few days ago perhaps I would have let this slide, but I don't think I can agree at all with the premise.


Perry, the point was not that there *cannot* be tragedies of commons, rather that there *doesn't have to be* a tragedy just because there's a commons. I'm quite aware of the Sahara Forest, having seen its successor the Sahara Desert up close and personal while crossing it. But even there there are examples of local successful management of the commons, in tree planting projects that are holding back the advance of the sand and sometimes even reversing it.
I turns out someone else has thoroughly explored this subject, enough to win a Nobel Prize: Elinor Ostrom.

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