Glossary / Lexicon
Tragedy of the commons
Tragedy of the commons refers to the depletion of a communal resource, such as a shared cow pasture for a group of farmers, because each individual pursues self ish interests. It is a social dilemma in which individuals, each acting in his or her immediate self-interest, over-use a scarce group resource. The the "commons" is any shared resource, including air, water, energy sources,and food supplies. The tragedy occurs when individuals consume more than their share, with the cost of their doing so dispersed among all, causing the ultimate collapse - the tragedy - of the commons.