"Fishing is a classic example of a tragedy of the commons problem. The fish are a common resource, so [from a business perspective] it makes sense to catch as many fish as you can. If you don't, someone else will. As a result, we run out of fish. Everyone makes a rational decision but in the end we all lose."1
Viewed from an economic perspective, "the individual benefits as an individual from his ability to deny the truth even though society as a whole, of which he is a part, suffers."2 Of course, the benefits gained by the individual are bittersweet as they lead to problems for the broader community from which that same individual cannot escape.
"Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase [his activity] without limit -- in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all."3
The problems caused by current climate are widely regarded to be among the hardest the world has ever had to confront in large part because they aren’t confined to a place that can be fenced off, nor can they be treated as a regional problem to be solved by a handful of nations. Nor is there a clear technical solution that can be addressed by the natural sciences. Rather, the issue is so complex because it requires a complete rethinking of the two major concepts central to all tragedy of the commons situations: freedom and public administration.
Collective temperance, especially if it is mutually agreed upon by the majority of people, has long been considered necessary to generate harmony in society. Temperance comes from understanding a problem and its consequences and voluntarily restraining from an action that may give benefits to the individual, but will harm the collectivity. So, raising consciousness that restricting one’s own freedom will lead to collective well-being seems to be one of the solutions to the tragedy of the commons.
1. NPR story "Climate Change is Victim of 'Tragedy of the Commons'
2. The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin
6. Abdu'l-Baha, A Traveller's Narrative, p. 42, quoting Baha'u'llah
7. Baha'i International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind
8. The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin
9. Baha'i International Community, 1990 Feb 27, Protection of Minorities
13. Baha'i International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind