My experience of the Tragedy of the Commons

Nu i höst har jag gått en online-kurs på University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign via Coursera. Kursen heter Introduction to sustainability och är inte helt överraskande en introduktion till hållbarhet.

Jag kommer här publicera de tre inlämningsuppgifter jag gjorde under kursen gång tillsammans med de instruktioner jag fick. Mycket nöje.

Här följer första av tre inlämningsuppgifter och den gjordes under kursens  tredje vecka som gick som Ecosystems and Climate Change.


Prompt

Find a common (i.e., a shared resource) that is tragic (i.e., is inevitably degraded) in your own life. It may be something that you observe in your town, job, school, or home, but it must have the elements of a ”Tragedy of the Commons.” Explain who shares this resource. Why do they share it? Explain how these people use the resource for their own individual gain. Show how the result is the depletion of the resource. What ideas do you have to improving the situation and enabling long-term sustainability of the resource? Who would it take to implement such changes? What challenges would those people face and how could they be helped?


This year my and the neighbouring municipality are experiencing drinking water usage regulations due to low levels of ground water. The regulations apply to anyone connected to the common drinking water system, including individuals, companies, industries, farmers and municipal operations.

Depending on your roll within in the municipality the personal gain differs. Private home owners are no longer allowed to wash their cars at their own drive ways, filling their  private mini pools or watering their lawns. They are also suggested to not keeping the water running unnecessarily, for example when taking a shower the water could be turned off while applying shower cream or shampoo or they should not wash the dishes by hand with the water running. Some companies are using more water than others and the regulations are most often affecting them as well. House painting companies are no longer allowed to clean the facades using drinking water. They have to come up with another solution. One company is using sea water.

The regulations are already applied and have been since mid April. However, I perceive a huge behavioural differences between people as well as between companies. Some people continue as usual, some even questions whether the low ground water levels actually are real. Some companies, as mentioned above, are finding alternative and more sustainable ways of working while others somewhat advocates increased water usage. Like where I work. Employees are encouraged to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dish washer because ”otherwise it won’t get clean”. In my opinon the problem is not the amount of left-overs, but the amount of cutlery in the dish washer.

Most importantly we need a different story. The local municipality has already taken its responsibility in introducing the regulations but I don’t think it’s enough, not in the long run. We need a different story, a story everyone can relate to. A story that explains why the drinking water is important, that creates incentives for each individual and each company to work for the collective and and not solely for their own personal gain. A story that provides individuals with tools to create change within the local community or within the company they work. A story telling all the benefits of changing behaviour to a sustainable way of living.

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Information about the local regulations in Swedish https://www.halmstad.se/byggabomiljo/bevattningsforbud.16929.html

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