Speaking with MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently. Elon Musk said he is pessimistic about slowing or reversing the effects of carbon pollution on global climate change. Doing so will require an effective means of pricing carbon emissions agreed to and implemented by all nations, he told Hayes. In his remarks, Musk made reference to what economists call “the tragedy of the commons.”
According to Wikipedia, that is a “situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource through their collective action.” Another way to put it is the popular expression, “Everybody’s property is nobody’s property.”
In an agrarian society, if public lands are made available for grazing, farmers will use them to feed their herds in order to lower their own costs of production. Some will overuse the privilege in order to deny the benefit of free grazing land to their neighbors. Ultimately, all the grass will be eaten and the animals will starve. The analogy to how mankind treats the earth should be obvious to anyone with more than a 3rd grade education (which excludes the majority of the US Congress, sadly).