Common Pool Resources

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Common Pool Resources
Recall Thomas Malthus
• 1798, writes critique of Condorcet et al
• Food supplies increase additively (linear)
• Population increases geometrically (nonlinear)
Recall Garrett Hardin’s
The Tragedy of the Commons
• Hardin essentially repeats the arguments of Hobbs:
• He says that education is not a solution; humans
need higher authority for coercion
• The authority can be a government dictatorship
that regulates human reproduction (communist
model) or capitalist market that privatizes
ownership of all resources (Spencer’s solution)
Recall that the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma
suggested a solution to the dilemma: Rapoport’s tit
for tat
The first time meeting a program, cooperate
The next time, repeat what it did last time.
If T4T meets itself, they cooperate
If T4T meets defect-only, it only gets fooled once
If T4T meets random chooser (eg JOSS), it will retaliate on the
next move (often when JOSS cooperates)
Something like tit-for-tat appears to be in
cases of “reciprocal altruism”
The long-tailed macaque:
individuals which are groomed
are much more likely to groom
or support their groomers
than monkeys that had not
groomed
Spatial prisoner’s dilemma (Martin Nowak)
Runs like cellular automaton
Spatial structure allows “islands” of cooperation to rise in sea
of defectors
Something like Nowak’s “islands of cooperation”
may explain other examples
Acorn Woodpecker:
Why don’t “freeriders”
rise in genetic
frequency? Cooperation
can be an Evolutionarily
Stable Strategy
Elinor Orstom: cooperation as a “bottomup” strategy in culture
Rivalrous = “subtractability”—consumption by one means no one else can have it.
Excludability = keeping some people out (like those who don’t pay)
Common pool resources (CPR) —rival goods that are non-excludable—are
what Hardin called “the commons.” He was wrong about the tragedy: CPR tend
to be governed by self-organization in traditional societies.
Indigenous practices use “bottom-up”
strategies for common pool resources
At top Russia: centralized
government control leaves
land scarred where the
thin topsoil has been
exposed and degraded.
At bottom Mongolia:
indigenous practices treat
land as Common Pool
Resource, eg they
cooperate in large-scale
movements between
seasonal pastures. Thus
the vegetation cover is
intact and uniform.
Under what circumstances was Hardin
correct?
Without effective rules defining rights and duties, substantial freeriding in two forms is likely: overuse without concern for the negative
effects on others, and a lack of contributed resources for maintaining
and improving the CPR itself.
“Empirical studies show that no single type of property regime works
efficiently, fairly, and sustainably in relation to all CPRs.”
Under what circumstances was Hardin
correct for group property?
(1)No system for collective agreements present;
(2)No human investments have been made to
improve the productivity of the resource system
(3)The captured resource units become the private
property
(4)Harvest large enough to destroy local stock
(5)The individual owners make decisions
independently without local norms
Under what circumstances was Hardin
correct?
Orstrom cites Berkes et al. (2006) on “roving bandits”—fishing fleets
that target valuable marine species in coastal waters, deplete local
stocks, and then move on to exploit stocks located in other regions.
Under what circumstances was Hardin
correct?
(1)No effective governance system is present;
(2)No human investments have been made to
improve the productivity of the resource system
(the ocean)
(3)the resource units (fish captured) become the
private property (of the boat owner)
(4)harvest large enough to destroy local stock (of fish)
(5)the individual owners (of fishing vessels) make
decisions independently without local norms
Under what circumstances can selforganized CPR systems evolve?
1. Memory: those who use reciprocity gain a reputation for
trustworthiness, which leads to increased gains for themselves and
their offspring .
2. Identification: community more likely than groups of strangers to
draw on trust, reciprocity, and reputation to develop norms that
limit use.
3. Modern technology allows increasingly large groups to monitor one
another's behavior and coordinate activities – hence phenomena
such as Open Source Software.
4. Orstom did not foresee: modern technology also supports
anonymity, hence our vulnerability to griefers and spam.
Irrigation Systems in Nepal
Even though the concrete channels are markedly better than traditional
earth canals, the modernized system delivered less water, and lowered
agricultural productivity.
Allowing local control has other advantages
Participants are less likely to adopt effective
rules in regimes that presume that central
authorities must make all decisions.
If rules are imposed by outsiders without
consulting local participants, local users may
engage in a game of “cops and robbers” with
outside authorities.
Two centuries of colonization followed by staterun development policy has produced great
resistance to externally imposed institutions.
Modern example: Lobster Fishers in Maine
• 1870s top-down control by
State of Maine:
• Illegal to harvest eggbearing female
• Fishers scrubbed the eggs
off “berried females” and
sold them
• Stocks of lobster declined
dangerously
Bottom-up Approach by Lobster Fishers
possible because
• Lived in shoreline communities for
many generations
• Deep roots in their communities
• Local leadership
• Norms of trustworthiness and
reciprocity via close interactions
• Effective knowledge about
ecosystem and harvested resource
Lobster Fishers in Maine: bottom-up not
“more natural”
• Fishers sort through their catch
• Safely return lobsters below and above a defined size,
marking tail to reduce “free-ride” odds
• Safely return “berried” female lobsters (eggs on their
bellies) without feeling like “dupes”
Challenges of Global Commons
biodiversity, climate change, pollution.
• Scaling-up: more participants = difficulty of
organizing, agreeing on rules, enforcing rules.
• Cultural diversity: attitudes on fertility, history of
colonialism and neocolonialism, etc.
• Complications of interlinked CPRs: “carbon
footprint” of consumption becomes increasingly
complicated with global interconnections. Better for
example to look at footprint of profits.
Challenges of Global Commons
biodiversity, climate change, pollution.
• Accelerating rates of change: “learn by doing” less
possible; experiments like geoegineering
increasingly dangerous.
• Nations are not individuals: nations can ask for
special favors in return for compliance in ways not
possible for individuals in traditional CPR. Eg Lani
Gunier’s questioning of one person, one vote
rebuked.
• On the positive side: technology offers advantages
Technology in Global Commons
1. Modern technology allows increasingly large groups to
monitor one another's behavior and coordinate
activities – hence phenomena such as Open Source
Software.
2. Orstom did not foresee: modern technology also
supports anonymity, hence our vulnerability to griefers
and spam.
3. Orstom did foresee: modern technology helps us
monitor nature in ways that were previously
impossible

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