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The miracle of the commons

Far from being profoundly destructive we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight

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In December 1968, the ecologist and biologist Garrett Hardin had an essay published in the journal Sciencecalled The Tragedy of the Commons. His proposition was simple and unsparing: humans, when left to their own devices, compete with one another for resources until the resources run out. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest, he wrote. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. Hardins argument made intuitive sense, and provided a temptingly simple…

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