The environment society
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The Environment & Society. Chapter 1, Section 2 Notes. Tragedy of the Commons (A published essay by 1968 ecologist Garrett Hardin). “Commons”: Area of land that was shared by entire village.

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The environment society

The Environment & Society

Chapter 1, Section 2 Notes

Tragedy of the commons a published essay by 1968 ecologist garrett hardin
Tragedy of the Commons(A published essay by 1968 ecologist Garrett Hardin)

  • “Commons”: Area of land that was shared by entire village.

  • It was in the best short-term interest of an individual to put as many animals as possible on the commons. (Individuals thought…If I don’t use this resource, someone else will.

  • However, if too many animals grazed on the commons, the animals destroyed the grass.

  • Eventually commons were sectioned off by individual owners who were sure not to put too many animals on their land, because overgrazing meant fewer animals could be put on the land the next year.

  • Hardin’s point is that someone or some group must take responsibility for maintaining a resource or the resource can be overused and become depleted.

Economics environment
Economics & Environment

  • Law of supply & demand: the greater the demand for something, the more that thing is worth. (Ex: Oil prices….and now corn)

  • Costs & Benefits: Cost benefit analysis balances the cost of the action against the benefits one expects from it.

  • Risk Assessment: one of the costs of any action is the risk of an undesirable outcome.

The environment society

Developed and Developing CountriesUnequal distribution of wealth around the world influences the environmental problems that a society faces and the choices it can make.

  • Developed Countries:

    • Higher average incomes

    • Slower population growth

    • Diverse industrial economies

    • Stronger social support systems

      • Ex: United States, Japan, & Canada

  • Developing Countries:

    • Lower average incomes

    • Simple and agricultural based economies

    • Rapid population growth

      • Ex: Ethiopia, Mexico, & Malaysia

Population consumption
Population & Consumption

  • Almost all environmental problems can be traced back to two root causes.

    • 1. The human population in some areas is growing too quickly for the local environment to support

    • 2. People are using up, wasting, or polluting many natural resources faster than they can be renewed, replaced, or cleaned up.

Ecological footprint
Ecological Footprint

  • Shows the productive area of Earth needed to support one person in a particular country.

  • It estimates the land used for crops, grazing, forest products, and housing.

  • Also, it includes the ocean area used to harvest seafood and the forest area needed to absorb the air pollution caused by fossil fuels.

  • In the United States, the ecological footprint is 30 acres/ person (on average 4 times as large as the footprint of a person in a developing country)

Despite the differing points of view on the environment most people support one key goal
Despite the differing points of view on the environment, most people support one key goal….


  • The condition in which human needs are met in such a way that a human population can survive forever.

  • This means we must stop using up resources faster than we can replace them and create a world that will continue to survive in the future.