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Tragedy of the Commons: Game Theory

An ongoing problem in our society has been one involving the shortage of natural resources. Whether it is energy, water, or land, humans have been known to overuse what nature has generously given them. Statistically speaking, “humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year”. This can be due to the fact that when individuals or groups of people are free to take advantage of a resource, they tend to exhaust, and potentially lose, that resource. This economics theory is called Tragedy of the Commons.

A common example of this theory is one involving animals grazing a field. Having a couple cows feed off the land would not be very harmful but once more and more animals indulge in this supply, the land is easily drained of its original benefits. Soon, the land can no longer be used by anybody. How can one prevent such an event from happening? It would be useful to think about the idea of Game Theory in this case. Game theory considers the outcomes of other “players” (participants) based on what one player decides. Instead of solely recognizing what is best for one side, it is better to look at what would be the best outcome for both/all sides. If game theory were used in the grazing case, then the wellbeing of the entire animal population would be considered rather than the wants of just one group. The land would potentially still be usable for a reasonable number of animals, rather than harm them all in the end.

Article: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC8QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mdpi.com%2F2071-1050%2F4%2F8%2F1776%2Fpdf&ei=eVESVJPfCoSxyATomoDwCQ&usg=AFQjCNFaJ5eul_oYDktI0hCbV_UkD53Wxg&bvm=bv.75097201,d.aWw

 

Other sites used:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/oct/29/climatechange-endangeredhabitats

 

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