What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Ending the Tragedy of the Commons

November 14, 2009, 7:37 AM
Destruction

It is becoming increasingly common knowledge that our world is on the brink of an unprecedented environmental crisis. However slow the reaction has been, it is beginning to take tangible form and, from petroleum to water, the need to preserve and reduce is becoming a mainstay of the global conservation. One of the essential—and painfully under-acknowledged—factors in this discussion is the question of just how collective societies deal with a scarcity of resources. As the work of Big Think’s recent guest Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 Nobel laureate for economics, demonstrates, our understanding of this question appears to have been woefully misguided.

The common assumption in the field is that humans, when faced with a dwindling resource, will continue to act out of a sort of Hobbesian self-interest and consume it until depletion—all eventually having to suffer the dire consequences. Dr. Ostrom, whose research incorporates political theory, economics and field work in a variety of resource-starved regions, believes this theory, commonly known as the “tragedy of the commons”, to be fallacious, arguing instead that humans can carve peaceful solutions to effectively manage shared assets.

Not only is the theory erroneous, its totalizing approach to ecological problems is also deeply flawed. As Dr. Ostrom explains, there is no universal way to understand or cope with shared resources, as the dynamics underpinning a culture's interaction with its resources varies greatly between realms and societies.

 

 

Ending the Tragedy of the C...

Newsletter: Share: