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Blindsided by Jonathan Gifford

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The Tragedy of the Commons

The problem of the fair allocation of limited resources is a very new kind of problem. When people first discovered the underground waters of the Ogallala Aquifer, they marvelled at the potential of this new resource. They did not think about where it came from and presumably assumed that it would never be exhausted; that, like the gentle rain that falls from heaven and the rivers that this feeds, the underground water source would always be there. It’s an understandable mistake.

In 1968, the American ecologist, Garret Hardin, wrote a hugely influential paper titled ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, which was published in Science magazine.10 In the introduction to this article, Hardin makes a memorable point. He refers ...

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