Tragedy of the Commons

April 12th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Chris Jordan continues to shock me.  His eye-catching lecture with TED.com and his photographs blow me away.  He is one true fighter in creating awareness of how we are living today in our culture.  Without any doubts, his visual presentation is much more powerful than just reading the numbers and statistics.

Jordan hits the spot when he speaks about how a single individual may not realize that many other individuals are creating the same issues and as a result, everyone is generating destruction together:

“My work is about the behaviors that we all engage unconsciously, on a collective level.  And what I mean by that, it’s the behaviors that we’re in denial about, and the ones that operate below the surface of our daily awareness.  And as individuals, we all do these things, all the time, everyday.  It’s like when you’re mean to your wife because you’re mad at somebody else.  Or when you drink a little too much at a party just out of anxiety.  Or when you overeat because your feelings are hurt, or whatever.  And when we do these kind of things, when 300 million people do unconscious behaviors, then it can add up to a catastrophic consequence that nobody wants, and no one intended.”

When I took Environmental Science course a year ago, there was one important concept that I learned and that is “tragedy of the commons.”  Tragedy of the commons is a term meaning when an individual exhausts the resources while thinking that doing it will only harm them and the individual does not acknowledge that everyone else is exploiting the same mindset and resources are uniformly depleted.

This explanation of the term is exactly what Jordan is explaining to his audience.  We are not realizing that we’re the only individuals who use resources excessively and everyone surrounding us is negatively impacting the environment too.  It takes a community to work together to help solve the issue.

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