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The Tragedy of the Commons Revisited: A Note on Plagues and Pestilences and the Canada Goose

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Sproule-Jones, Mark; Balahura, Andrew
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5126
Sector: Theory
Region: North America
Subject(s): tragedy of the commons
public goods and bads
common pool resources--theory
Abstract: "We wish to raise a new wrinkle to CPR theory. We wish to extend the logic to resources that people/potential harvesters regard as having negative value, but from which withdrawals are not possible. There are rules that prevent people from eliminating common pool bads of opposed to goods and the stock of the resource quality can actually increase in the commons' situations. Our case in point is the resource of Canada geese which have become an urban, non-migratory pest or plague in many North American sites....We will describe the problem in Southern Ontario and the solutions ultimately worked out to accomodate the common pool. First, we will outline the theoretical extension before we examine the empirical case. We show how the non-market values associated with a non-renewable resource like the Canada geese can gradually be reduced and outweighed by the negative consequences of population increases. We also show how government authorities have continued to restrict culling and harvesting despite supportive evidence, including public opinion. We conclude that the classic tragedy of the commons has an inverse logic whereby limits to harvesting create incentives for the growth of pestilences and plagues particularly in urban areas where carrying capacities appear large."

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