Tragedies of the Commons Are Exceptions Rather Than the Rule

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Marcus Lindholm:

"Self-regulation has historically characterized common resource use (Jackson et al., 2000; Shiraev & Levy, 2017). Jared Diamond's book Collapse (2005) evoked much attention, with its reports on community collapse due to overexploitation of resources. But the number of unambiguous cases of such collapse are in fact few (the Viking colony on Greenland, the Easter Island, Minoan Crete), and have been factually disputed, as well (McAnany & Yoffee, 2010; Bregman, 2020). Most premodern communities managed to establish sustainable solutions to local resource use (Ostrom 1990). The Sami of the Arctic share limited grazing areas for reindeers, with agreements encompassing benefits and responsibilities in order to maintain common pastures (Barlindhaug, 2013; Marin & Bjørklund, 2015). Shared use of summer pasture, arable and meadows, has a long history across Eurasia, where resources have been regulated by common rules defining numbers of grazers, duration and associated duties, as well. The system of transhumance and setring of Northern Europe and the Swiss Alps partly roots back in the Iron age (Moe et al., 1988). Common laws included duties associated with maintenance and care of outfields, such as bush and rock removal, hunting of predators, and sowing of new grass following landslides. In Sahel, pastoralists have maintained the common use of meadows for cattle, which also included rules for shared use of the scattered acacia trees, and their protein-rich fruits (Stave et al., 2007). Through such agreements, sustainable use of common resources have been successfully maintained over centuries, without resource deterioration. A 'tragedy of the commons' is an exception rather than the rule (Ostrom, 1990; Araral, 2014)."