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.
We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
- When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
- American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
- We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.