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Part 2--An Examination of the Tragedy of the Commons: Pollution

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Part 2: Pollution

As stated in “Part 1: what we face” of this four part series, “Part 2: pollution” deals with a predicament few understand as to long term consequences.  Yes, we create a few laws to mitigate water, land and air pollution, but we continue injecting 72,000 chemicals into our environment 24/7.  We exhaust billions of tons of petroleum products, coal burning particulate and worse.

Results:  The chemicalized Mississippi River creates a 10,000 square mile dead zone whereby most vertebrates cannot survive.  Many of our lakes suffer ‘acid rain’ that destroys the ecological balance within them.

Please turn your attention to Chris Clugston’s, “On American Sustainability—Anatomy of a Societal Collapse.” The complete analysis and associated models, evidence, and references can be found at:


The more I investigate our predicament, the more pained I am for the future of our civilization.  As you read this four part series, you will know more than 90 percent of Americans.  Dr. Garrett Hardin wrote his “Tragedy of the Commons” nearly two decades ago, but we ignored it—at our increasing peril.


This country stands in “Collective Denial” of our environmental condition.


Clugston brings it to us with articulate clarity, “Most Americans believe that we are “exceptional”—both as a society and as a species. We believe that America was ordained through divine providence to be the societal role model for the world. And we believe that through our superior intellect, we can harness and even conquer Nature in our continuous quest to improve the material living standards associated with our ever-increasing population.


“The truth is that our pioneering predecessors drifted, quite by accident, upon a veritable treasure trove of natural resources and natural habitats, which they wrested by force from the native inhabitants, and which we have persistently overexploited in order to create and perpetuate our American way of life. The truth is that through our “divine ordination” and “superior intellect”, we have been persistently and systematically eliminating the very resources upon which our way of life and our existence depend.


“We now find ourselves in a “predicament”. We are irreparably overextended—living hopelessly beyond our means ecologically and economically (we import 60 percent of our oil)—at a time when the supplies of many critical resources, water the big one, upon which we depend will soon be insufficient to enable our American way of life. We are about to discover that we are simply another unsustainable society subject to the inescapable consequence of our unsustainable resource utilization behavior—societal collapse.”


While Clugston states his case, you watch it unravel in the newspapers daily across the USA and the planet.  I am baffled if not astounded at how we can continue ignoring what’s happening to us.

Dr. Garrett Hardin said, “In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears in problems of pollution. Here it is not a question of taking something out of the commons, but of putting something in - sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water; noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting and unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. The calculations of utility are much the same as before. The rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we are locked into a system of "fouling our own nest," so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free-enterprisers.

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Frosty Wooldridge Bio: Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His books (more...)
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