How Wind And Solar Power Are Polluting The Commons
From Seeking Alpha
By John Petersen
In a watershed 1968 essay, ecologist Garrett Hardin defined “The Tragedy of the Commons” as the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to their own self-interest, despite the knowledge that depleting the shared resource is contrary to the best long-term interests of their society.
He began with an example from medieval times when residents of a village frequently had the right to graze their cows on a community pasture. An individual herder pursuing his own best interest would invariably increase the number of cows he grazed in the pasture. But when all herders made the same individually rational decision, the common pasture was depleted or even destroyed by overgrazing.
As a trailblazer and thought leader in the early days of the environmental movement, Mr. Hardin was particularly critical of pollution of the commons, which he described as follows:
“In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears in problems of pollution. Here it is not a question of taking something out of the commons, but of putting something in — sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water; noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting and unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. The calculations of utility are much the same as before. The rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we are locked into a system of “fouling our own nest,” so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free enterprisers.”
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