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Common pool resources

Common pool resources

The phrase “Good for me, good for you, bad for us” alludes to the Tragedy of the Comons concept which involves an individual trying to obtain the greatest benefits from a certain resource for self-interest. According to the video everyone is trying to exploit the resources so that they can satisfy their needs, which is actually good for them but a problem arises when what is best for both of them is ignored.  The video mentions three resources which include the pastures, fisheries and the atmosphere which every person uses to fulfill their needs without a caring about the effects it would have on both of them (Mapelqvist, 2009). The tragedy alluded to by the phrase in the video represent an economic problem where the individuals wants to have for themselves as much as they can regardless of the effects this will have in the welfare of the whole society. For instance, the sheep provides meat for each of the economists and they would graze as many sheep as would be supported by the pastures in the grazing fields.  The issue arises when each person allows their sheep’s to graze as much as possible until the pastures became overgrazed due to high number of sheep in the grazing filed. The result is less food for the sheep, and eventually both grazers will have fewer, starving number of sheep.  In this case, within a system of shared resource, individual users act independent in accordance to personal self-interests and behave in a contrary manner to the common good of the whole population of the users. The resource is depleted through a collective action (Mosman, 2009).

 Everyone wants the maximum good for themselves and given that what is good is relative, a common solution should be found that would ensure that the good for the whole society is placed ahead of personal interest. To solve the problem, a judgment criterion involving a system of weighting is required. Like in the case of the sheep grazing, it would be more important for every person to have a small herd but which will have enough resources than having a large herd of sheep competing for so little resources that both end up losing. Finding a common ground where all the members in the society will benefit, but not at the expense of the other members is the way to go (Mosman, 2009).  The rational solution is to exploit the resources in such a manner that the personal interests do not undermine the interest of fellow humans.

Common pool resources refers to the human made or natural resources which benefit a person but at the same time lessen the benefits to all persons if each one of them pursues their own self-interests. In this case an individual’s use of the resource involves subtracting from the use of another person and where it is necessary most of the times, but at the same time difficult and costly if other users are secluded from using the resource (Ostrom, 2008). The video mentions three such resources which include the pasture (forage), fisheries, and atmosphere which faces problems of overuse or congestion since they all can be subtracted.   This means every person use of these resources involve the subtraction of services that may be used or rather enjoyed by other users.

As for the fisheries, the problem arises from the continuous overharvesting, and such overexploitation threatens the stock of many fisheries. As alluded to by the video, while there is increased harvesting of fish, the population of most of the harvested species has either disappeared or declined.  A major problem which result to the massive overfishing relates to the fact that fishing areas are accessible to all and no one can lay claim to the property right for the many species in the open which are commercially viable.  This means that everyone is exploiting as much as possible for economic self –interest with a disregard for the depletion that would affect the whole society. A solution involves putting limit on the extent of fishing through introducing quotas and fishing breaks to allow for restocking, and therefore the issue of overexploitation will have been dealt with(Ostrom, 2008).  The issue of pastures addressed in the film relates to overgrazing for personal interest having not regard of the effects it would have if uncontrolled. A pasture will allow for a given amount of grazing occurring without harming the main resource. Excessive grazing makes the pasture prone to erosion and less benefit are yielded for the users in the long run. The use of limits on the grazing has been recognized as a possible solution. The case of environment relates to impact of the practices afore mentioned in the video plus the overharvesting of forest resources. A major problem is the congestion and the over exploitation of the resources in the environment with a focus of gaining maximum personal benefits and disregarding the degradation associated with it. The society has taken steps to reduce practices such as deforestation and improved on forestation (Ostrom, 2008).



Mapelqvist, (2009).Tragedy of the commons. Retrieved from:

Mosman,(2009).Tragedy of commons.iMinds.1

Ostrom, E. (2008).The Challenge of Common-Pool Resources. Retrieved from:




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