The Possible Use of Common Property to Address the Commons Problem
Table of Contents
Common property can be described as a type of good which usually consists of natural or sometimes man-made resources in which the rights for its exploitation are held by people in conjunction with each other. In the article, “The Lobster Fiefs: Economic and Ecological Effects of Territoriality in the Maine Lobster Industry,” Acheson explores the common property of fisheries and in particular the lobster industry. More so, Acheson focuses on the strategies applied by lobstermen in communities along the Coast of Central Maine in facilitating the use of common property and in this case the fisheries. He describes some of the problems that commons undergo such as depletion of resources. For instance, “in the New England area, cod, haddock, hake, and mackerel are far less plentiful than they were in the past, and the once flourishing sardine industry has been reduced to a shadow of former self” (Acheson 184). In his study of the use of the life of the lobstermen Acheson identified some of the possible use of common property to address the commons problem. They included establishment of clearly defined boundaries, careful monitoring, formulation of collective choice agreements, and formulation of common strategies for protecting the common property. Thesis: There is a need for communities to establish ways of ensuring that common property is equally organized and shared for it to effectively address the problem of commons.
The Commons Problem
In light of the vulnerability of their core resources, the commons are constantly being subjected to problems that are threatening their overall existence. It is for the reason that many of these problems are contributing to the increasingly high rate of their depletion. Hardin in his article “The Tragedy of the Commons” explores the increase in population as one of the main problems of commons. Hardin asserts that the population is growing and its rate of growth is high. The impact of this growth is the increased exertion of pressure on the existing common property. It can be illustrated through the use of examples such as national parks and oceans as suggested by Hardin. As the population continues to grow, while national parks and other forms of common property like oceans remain the same, the pressure on them increases (Hardin 1244). The increased pressure on the commons as a result of increase in population has had an adverse effect on them and created the problems discussed below.
In the first place, it is leading to the degradation of the commons through increased pollution. For instance, the atmosphere today which is among one of the most essential commons is bombarded with various forms of pollutants which has led to the rise of diseases and negative health conditions among people (Hardin 1245). Secondly, besides the degradation of the commons, increased population is also leading to their depletion due to uncontrollable use which is causing overexploitation and overuse of their resources. Thirdly, the high increase of the population is likely to lead to the destruction of the commons as people compete with each other for their use. The conflicts brought about due to the competition for the scarce resources of the commons will cause the development of selfish acts as everyone strives to receive benefits.
Using Common Property to Address the Commons Problem
It is imperative to formulate and implement solutions to the commons problems. Common property can be used in this regard as a way of addressing the commons problems. The use of common property to address the commons problems can be perceived as a process of formulating rules by which the tragedy of the commons is averted (Hardin 1247). One of the effective ways of using common property to address these problems is to establish clearly defined boundaries (Acheson 192). In this sense common property can be used to create boundaries that can facilitate the controlled use of resources by everyone. It will entail ensuring that everyone has equal property rights to access and make use of the commons. In addition, there is a need to ensure that the established boundaries are well respected by everyone concerned or by all those making use of the common property. It will not only solve the commons problems, but will also foster maximum satisfaction by all ensuring that everyone benefits.
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Another way in which common property can be applied to solve the commons problems is by developing collective choice agreements which can be made among members of given communities. It will essentially lead to strategic consumption of common property in a manner that allows for fair and planned use of common property. It is especially effective in addressing the problems caused by the increased population. By the common agreements, the routine consumptions of resources will be reduced. Moreover, in some cases conflicts among members of the community will be eliminated preventing them from destroying the commons as they compete with each other for the resources. Wade suggested the idea of corporate villages as he studied the Indian villages. Corporate villages have a need for clear and perfect use of resources in order for them to be able to survive up to the desirable level of peace and understanding (Wade 224). It helps to bring about a sense of balance that acts to ensure that commons problems are successfully eliminated.
Another way of using common property to address the discussed problem is by formulating strategies that will be common to all allowing everyone who benefits from commons to be involved in the conservation of resources. Shifting focus towards the direction of protection of common property makes it easy to solve the commons problems through adoption of strategies that will be common and will allow all members of the community to be involved ensuring resources remain within the right level for future benefit (Acheson 193). It will allow the commons problems especially those attributed to conflict to be effectively managed. Moreover, the involvement of everyone will allow people play their part as they will feel their contribution is appreciated.
More so, common property can be utilized to solve commons problems through facilitating the monitoring of resources. The monitoring program should be formulated in such a way that accommodates the views of all people. It will be essential in making it fully acceptable for all. Common property will be used to facilitate this monitoring of resources by allowing individuals with varying views and opinions to discuss how best the commons can be protected (Wade 225). It will allow for the ideas suggested to be all rounded and more effective.
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In conclusion, common property is found throughout all societies and it is expected to be shared among the members of these societies in a manner that satisfies all and will prevent conflict. However, it is not the case in most societies as some people try to find ways through which they can receive more benefits than others. Further, as population continues to grow at a high rate it creates more problems for the commons. The tragedies of commons can be averted through the use of common property. The establishment of boundaries can be utilized in order to control the use of resources. In addition, it can allow the development of collective choice agreements that will lead to strategic consumption of resources by all society members.