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The “tragedy of the commons,” probably the most common framework through which environmental issues are understood today, was made famous by biologist Garrett Hardin in a 1968 essay in Science. Hardin was specifically concerned with population growth and invoked the notion made popular by Thomas Malthus in 1798 that because population grows exponentially while food supply grows only linearly, population growth will lead inevitably to starvation, war, and disease, and eventually to a collapse in population levels. Hardin argued that population growth is a tragedy of the commons, which he explained with this image: “Picture a pasture open to all. It is expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons.” Every animal that is added contributes ...

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