Tragedy of the commons sees many “helpless” users depleting a shared resource.

Missing or delayed feedback to users about the depletion does not support correction, and/or each actor’s bounded rationality suggests that individual action will not be taken by others and many not be worth it to oneself. All actors will be driven to ruin without a solution: education across the participants with persuasion or threats to support reduced use; privatize pieces of the shared resource such that one can only ruin one’s own portion; or regulate usage through coercion. Honor systems only work among the honorable.rM3

  1. Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub, 2008). (See notes.)