Global Character of Climate Change

645 WordsFeb 4, 20183 Pages
The global character of climate change, its probable adverse effects and manmade character, qualify it as a collective problem. In Garrett Hardin’s (1968) Tragedy of the Commons it is argued that such problems need collective action to solve them; if individuals uninhibitedly chase their self-interest, they come to a result that is not in their common interest and which they would not prefer given their possibilities. Working together by agreement they can come to a result that in the end will much better serve their (common) interests. But where Hardin focused on commons shared by a group of peasants, climate change affects the different climates around the globe, involving the world population and the various societies within it. We can therefore characterise climate change as the tragedy of a global common, but averting this risk might ask for a different approach to collective action. The structure of the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Kreps, Milgrom, Roberts & Wilson, 1982) and the solutions offered to it can be said to be more or less the way in which states have organised the creation and protection of collective goods. We pay tax to build a dam to protect us from the water, and get sanctioned if we do not. It also seems to be the manner in which (international) environmental governance was – and often still is – largely organised. Within the rationality of game theory, regarding the risk of climate change, one should simply extent the game to a plurality of persons that
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