• Tariq Siddiqui,

Climate Change - Tragedy of Commons

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

No Technical Solution - Need Collective Rationality.


Few years back, as part of Development Manager training, I read Garrett Hardin’s essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” where he argues that the problem of population growth cannot be resolved with technical solutions.


Hardin defines technical solution as one that “requires a change only in the techniques of the of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.” He uses example of herdsman using common pastures for cattle grazing, where each individual herdsman adds more cattle for personal gain but collectively all herdsman do the same that eventually results in overgrazing and destruction of the common pastures.


Hardin uses the same argument for the over population, where again, individual rationality is at odd with collective rationality. In similar sense, I believe ‘Global warming’ and ‘Climate Change’ is a tragedy of commons that requires solutions that addresses morality, ethics and human values and not just a technical solution. This collective  thinking and strategy is ingrained in the DNA of European Union countries and the IOC of European origin that are leading the change. This is why managing emissions and energy transition today is a priority and key to low-carbon future.

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