Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hobson's Choice?
Results in the The Tragedy of Commons

This logical behavioral problem is a great illustration why only collective action can work in fixing climate change.

There is a much better description to this, but I can't find it just now. Hope this will still suffice:

It's essentially a huge prisoner's dilemma problem. If you studied the prisoner's dilemma, you know that the rational decision for the individual absent of some external enforcing mechanism is alway not to cooperate even though both prisoners would be better off if you did cooperate. Same with global warming, but on a huge scale. My lot would be a lot worse, but the earth would be no cooler for me, if i personally cut my emission without demanding the same from everyone else.

In fact, it's arguable that if a significant proportion of the population cut down their usage absent of any other change, that's merely going to make oil cheaper for the remaining population who will then burn more of it.

The only way out is collective action in a problem such as this.

[Via: BattlePanda to Ezra Klein]