The Tragedy Of The Commons And The Lorax

800 Words 4 Pages
The tragedy of the commons and the lorax. The tragedy of the commons is a social-economical idea proposed by

Biologist Garrett James Hardin that states that individual users

acting independently according to their own self-interest behave

contrary to the common good when dealing with a public resource.

This idea is explored further in the children’s book the lorax by

written by the acclaimed children’s book author (and environmental

advocate) Theodor Seuss Geisel (also known as Dr. Suess). The main

point of the tragedy of the commons is that people will act in self-

interest even if it hurts themselves in the long run. Say there is a

pasture where anybody can introduce cattle to graze, logically a

person will introduce
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Then he confronted by the Lorax, a small odd-looking

creature that “speaks for the trees”. The Lorax pesters the Once-ler

but he just shrugs it off. As time passes his business grows

monumentally and he cuts for trees down destroying the native

ecosystem until there is nothing but a treeless waste land that is no

longer profitable for the Once-ler. The main similarity between the

Lorax and the tragedy of the commons is that both explore how the

over exploitation of a common resource will lead to the ultimate

decline of that resource. In the lorax the resource that is over

exploited are the truffula trees one of the examples listed by Harrdin

is a pasture with no boundaries.

Another major similarity that the tragedy of the commons has with

the Lorax is that both admit that there is no one answer to the

bigger problem of finding a middle ground for the problem of over

exploitation and conservation. In Hardin’s essay, he compares the

problem of self-interest to a game of tick tack toe “How can I win a

game of tick tack toe … it is well known that I cannot if I assume

that my opponent knows the rules of the game”. While there is not
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I should shut down

my factory, fire a hundred thousand workers is that good economics,

is that sound for the nation”? “I see your point but I wouldn’t know

the answer”.

There is also the fact that both the tragedy of the commons and the

lorax have a strong similarity to real world events where the actions

of people acting independent to the greater good of the people. One

of these such examples was the Great Banks Cod industry which at

one point in time was one of the most profitable fishing areas in the

world. Located of the coast of Newfoundland the grand banks are a

group of underwater plateaus that are located near the Gulf stream

and the Labrador current which creates a perfect environment for

cod. The problem of over exploitation happened quite recently when

the Canadian government subsidized the fishing industry in the area

this flooded money into the fishing industry which made up for the

less fish they were catching, and as scientist warned the Canadian

government of the risk of overfishing the Canadian government did

the most cliché thing and ignored them until in 1972 (the same

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