Here’s a quick story to observe World Environment Day and illustrate the difficult balance in managing natural resources.
In 1968 Garrett Hardin wrote this article to describe a common grassland in which several farmers allow their cattle to graze. In order to increase individual wealth, it is in the interest of each farmer to enlarge their herd and continue to graze on the same piece of land. But after the threshold of a certain number of cattle is exceeded, the quality of the land begins to decrease with every added cow.
Since no one is individually responsible for the land, and no fee is charged for grazing, each farmer maximizes profits by increasing the size of his herd. The quality of the land continues to degrade and soon there is not enough grass to feed the cows. The farmers who increase their cattle benefit at first but, in the end, everybody loses.
A green economy puts in place checks and balances so that no one person gains at the expense of others due to hogging of a natural resource, including the quality of the air we breathe.