Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sharing is Caring when it comes to the Commons

Author: Mallory Griffith

Sharing is Caring when it comes to the Commons
Recently I read an article called, The Struggle to Govern the Commons written by Thomas Dietz, Elinor Ostrom and Paul Stern. The topic of the commons, really got me thinking about the importance of sharing. It may not seem as though it directly connects to this topic of GMO's but in reality. The commons are what allow us to even produce food and livestock. I find it important for people to read this article in order to better understand the concept of the commons. Thus, I decided to give a short summary of this article. Hopefully it will make you think about how you are using and respecting the commons.
There are a few main points discussed in the article that will be touched on in this journal. First being, who and what drive environmental change. Then, why is it such a struggle to govern the commons? Lastly, we will discuss the importance of accurate information and how that can potentially provide a solution to our problem of governing the commons.
            Often a question asked by many, who and what drive environmental change. Hardin, was under the impression that “an increasing demand for natural resources”, such as, gas, food, animals and trees. These are all considered natural resources. Hardin also thought that “Institutional arrangements”, which can be described as, any type of establishment in which people congregate and take part in the sharing of natural resources. The belief is that only the government and private property can be the ones to sustain a healthy level of sharing the commons.
            The ability to share the commons and create a happy medium for all is very challenging, because with sharing comes big moral and controversial decisions. Rarely, can everyone agree on the “correct” answer. Also, it is hard to make decisions about resources and the way things work when we may not actually know the outcome or how long they will last. In this article, we learn that with advancing technology it gives people the confidence to try and disregard the government when laws and guidelines are put in place to protect the natural resource. Research shows that when human impact or use of resources by humans can be monitored the government has a better idea of how to protect the resources. It is important for someone who can watch the influx and use of resources as a whole because then they can determine how it is affecting our earth as a whole.
            With that said, it is very important that the government is being completely honest with it’s people. When there is a hint of mistrust or deceit then the people want to take control of their own resources, which is very challenging when the resources have to be shared with billions of people. On the flip side, the people also need to be providing honest information about the amount of resources they use and what they are using them for. When both sides of the team are being honest it allows for a better understanding of how to share the commons and provide a better quality of life for all. Once honesty is established both sides need to be able to be ready for change and able to adapt, because our environment and our resources are ever changing.

            Lastly, in order to be successful, in sharing the commons and creating a more powerful foundation, there are a few things that need to be done. There should be a mixture of types of institutions, for example, markets, schools, and the ability for communities to be trusted to make some decisions on their own. Science needs to be used and valued in order to provide accurate feedback. Regardless of how successful this structure of governance is, humans are still making a negative impact on the earth, but the sooner we understand how to share and govern our resources then we will be able to lessen our impact and begin reducing the amount of commons we use on average. 

Here is a link to the Full Article

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