a term coined by Garrett Hardin describing the inexorable process of degradation of communal resources due to selfish self-interest of "free riders" who use or destroy more than their fair share of common property.
This definition that PBS took from a sustainability stance shows us that we all play a part in sustaining our resources around us. Just like the sheep in the Shirky chapter cannot overgraze one section of the grass because they all share it, we cannot use up too much of the resources that are available to us.
So my question is then—how are we, as a country, doing with this concept?
The answer I found is horrible. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has produced numerous graphs and charts to display these results across the world. The one I found most eye opening was the map of the world that showed the 2009 World Oil Consumption records. The United States is WELL beyond any other country in oil consumption. In fact, we are almost double China, which is number two in oil consumption.
We are not displaying what Shirky says is the essence of this theory. Through our outrageous oil consumption, we are hogging what is rightfully the world's. Granted this may not be a problem now because we still have ample supplies, but in the future when resources start to become depleted, our reliance on oil could have major implications.
I think we need to be aware of our oil consumption and start to think about these consequences now before it is too late. We cannot act out of our own self-interest all the time and we must think about our actions within the collective group. This is the essence of the Tragedy of the Commons and we can't let our own preservation get in the way of the world's sustainability.