When I studied agricultural science at university many years ago, we were taught “The Tragedy of the Commons” not as a claim, or as a situation arising from certain social circumstances, but as an inevitable fact of life.
Life experience, and a certain intellectual scorn for the quality of my university education, had led me to no longer believe that, but I was still delighted when Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Economics prize with her work on such commons that worked very well with community management over long periods of time – often better indeed than government or commercially managed models.
Also delighted that she was the first Economics laureate, although unsurprised to learn that she’d had to battle to be allowed to study for her doctorate, as a woman in a “man’s” field. (And I’m glad that I got the London Library to buy her Governing the Commons.)
Sad to learn then that she’s died today.
Here’s her Nobel lecture: Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems.
And her last article, on the Rio conference, published today.
A good day to read in her memory…