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The Tragedy of the Commons

So many people speak of over population these days, some angrily, yet no one really provides any rational solution.

Some powerful organizations have been started to reduce human population by forced sterilization and "education", often practicing eugenics as well. For those who don't know, eugenics is an attempt to use selective breeding to improve the human race. If that makes you think of Nazi Germany, that is because they were trying to do that as well.

Many people think the chem trails people talk about are also attempts at forced sterilization. There's been talk of some genetically engineered foods designed to sterilize humans as well. There may also be some who believe in wars to reduce human population.

While such things may seem like solutions to some, they are not really rational solutions.

The believe in over population comes from the believe of global warming. Those two are linked together. If we have no global warming, we have no over population.

I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not going to try to tell you there's no such thing as global warming. As many people know, global warming comes from to much green house gasses, which are given off by our cars, homes, and factories.

We are basically living in a very large fish bowl. Big as it may be, the pollution we dump into it does not magically float off into space. Just like a fish bowl can only handle so many fish, the same is true of the Earth.

We are not anywhere near the Earths maximum capacity though. If you want to get a better picture of how close we are to the Earth's maximum capacity, you don't go by how many Americans you can fit on the Earth before there will be to much pollution.

Americans produce on average 24 tons of green house gasses per person. In comparison, The average person in Bangladesh produces 0.9 tons of green house gasses per person. In Afghanistan, its 0.6 tons per person.

Why is it that the third world nations, which are extremely poor and have extremely low technology, produce so much less green house gasses? Isn't that backwards? Yes, it is backwards. The more high tech a nation is, the less green house gasses it should be producing.

The really stupid thing is often those organizations which practice forced sterilization, and promote wars to kill people, concentrate on those very poor nations, which produce near zero green house gasses. So while they may reduce the World's population, they are not helping to reduce green house gasses and global warming.

The problem is we have a serious flaw in our system of society. That flaw is what is causing green house gasses, and that flaw can be fixed. Once we fix that flaw, the Earth will be able to provide for many times more people, without global warming.

The name given to the problem is the Tragedy of the Commons, and the solution is very simple.

For those who don't know, the Tragedy of the Commons, here's two paragraphs from Wikipedia which explain it:

In economics, the tragedy of the commons is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests. In 1968, ecologist Garrett Hardin explored this social dilemma in "The Tragedy of the Commons", published in the journal Science.

Central to Hardin's article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd) involving medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin's example, it is in each herder's interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the quality of the common is damaged for all as a result, through overgrazing. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the damage to the common is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed, to the detriment of all. Hardin also cites modern examples, including the overfishing of the world's oceans and ranchers who graze their cattle on government lands in the American West.

Now, before you go around thinking doom and gloom, think about this. Why is it that a large company can farm thousands of acres of land, without destroying it?

One group of people, operating with one system of society, will destroy the land, while another group of people, operating with a different system of society, will properly care for the land and preserve it.

What does this tell you? It should tell you that the Tragedy of the Commons is only valid with certain systems of society. Some systems of society do not suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons.

What that should tell you, is since global warming is caused by the Tragedy of the Commons, if we setup a form of society which does not suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons, we'll eliminate global warming.

So what is it about our current form of society which causes the Tragedy of the Commons?

The key point here, which few people catch, is "according to each one's self-interest". The problem is purely profit motivated. This is a problem which exists only in a profit motivated society. Change the system of society, and the problem of over use of resources, green house gasses, global warming, and over population, all vanish.

Those problems won't exist in a society which is not motivated by profit, until the population is about 100 times higher with current technology. The higher the technology, the more people the Earth can support.

We have the technology right now to reduce green house gasses by 100 times. We just don't implement that technology. Our society does not allow for the implementation of that technology.

People often say that we burn oil and gas, because they are cheap. That is not quite true. In simple terms, yes it is true, but in reality, oil and gas are extremely expensive. If we were to spend as much money on solar power, as we've spent on oil and gas, solar power would probably be free, or so close to it that nobody would care.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about research. Our current society does not do anywhere near enough of it.

An advanced civilization would not spend a trillion dollars on fossil fuels, which are known to be harmful to the Earth, and spend only a few billion dollars on finding alternatives. No, an advanced civilization would be spending a trillion dollars on research to find alternative fuel sources, which would make the cost of those alternatives just about nothing in just a few years.

In case you didn't catch that, I'm saying that an advanced civilization would be spending about 250 times as much as our current society spends on alternative energy research. Perhaps even several times than that, if the situation was as bad as it is in our current society.

In such a society, solar energy and some other alternatives would be just about free, in comparison to fossil fuels.

Then, when we go looking for a solar collector for our homes, we wouldn't be talking about cost per KW. We'd be more interested in which color goes best with the house or car.

Imagine a society which spends 250 times more on alternative energy research, than we do in our current society. Does that society spend more on energy? Nope. It would actually spend a whole lot less. That is, including the research spending, it would still be much less.

So you see, fossil fuels are not cheap. They are in reality very expensive.

Act 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Remember that verse? Now compare that with "acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest" from the Tragedy of the Commons.

In the system setup by Jesus' Apostles, the people were "of one heart and of one soul". They weren't "acting independently", but were "of one heart and of one soul". Like the example I gave earlier, of a large company with a lot of land, only they were a team to a greater degree.

Let's look at that Tragedy of the Commons definition a little more in depth. "acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests."

This could be defined more simply as saying "the needs of the one, out weigh the needs of the many". No, that is not what Spock said, it is the opposite of what Spock said.

So, to put it in simple terms:

Current society ="the needs of the one, out weigh the needs of the many"
Gods society ="the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the one"

Here's another one:

Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

It may be difficult for you to grasp, but self interest is not the motivation in this form of society. The motivation is in helping others.

The same is sort of true of a large corporation which is managing a large piece of land. The workers are simply doing their jobs. They are motivated largely to do a good job. To do their work properly. They get paid to do their jobs, so that is what they do.

If you provide motivation to people to damage the Earth, they'll damage the Earth. If you take away that motivation, they'll stop damaging the Earth. It is really that simple.

People think we need some system to motivate the people. Some sort of reward system. What people fail to realize is there are more effects to this than the intended effect.

This is reward based training. Anytime you give someone or some animal a reward, you are doing reward based training. By itself, there's nothing wrong with reward based training, in fact it is a good system for training.

In reward based training, if you give a dog a treat every time it sits, you do more than teach the dog to sit. That is not all you teach the dog though. You also teach the dog to like you, because you give out treats. The dog might also find other things to associate with the treats as well, for example if you always give treats in your own yard, the dog might decide to only sit when it is in your yard.

We have to think about what exactly you are training. You may think you are training someone to work hard, and maybe to some extent you are. The problem is in many cases you are also training a person to be selfish.

You've heard the old saying "squeaky wheel gets the grease". Like it or not, it is a fairly dominant component of the Capitalist system. The more you ask for, the more you get. 'Course, we're not really worried about people asking for more money. There's something far worse.

When you work in a small company, sometimes people start thinking to themselves that they can make more money if someone else is paid less. After all, there's a limited amount of money. Ever have someone talk to your boss about paying you less money? Not necessarily coming straight out and saying that, but giving reasons for paying you less? 'Course, most of the time you never hear about it, but I have a feeling it is a fairly common occurrence.

If people weren't always hurting people for the sake of making more money, we wouldn't have such lovely sayings as "the same people you step on, on your way up, may be stepping on you on your way down."

Why do people lie, cheat, and steal? Why do people pretend to work when the boss is looking? Those things are rewarded in Capitalist society. There's a system of reward training in place, which makes people do those things.

Imagine a guy who is walking along on a bridge, and sees a rich guy who is hanging over the side, about to fall off. What should that guy do? He could just continue walking. He could help the rich man and then walk away, and get nothing even though he may have risked his own life to some extent helping him. He could help him, hoping the rich man will reward him. Those are the common methods, but there's one more. He could ask the rich man how much he is willing to pay him, to help him.

Now, I understand that seems entirely immoral. Even so, the way the laws work, if you don't want to be "cheated" you have to first ask the rich man how much he is willing to pay. Now, in the real world, in the case of saving a man's life, asking for a contract first might get a person thrown in jail, but in any other situation where someone's life is not at stake, you are supposed to make a contract first.

I point this out to show you the hypocrisy of the system. If it seems immoral in the case of saving a person's life, there's a reason for that. It is always immoral, in any situation. It is not the way we are supposed to act. It is not natural behavior, rather it is the behavior that was conditioned or trained by our system of society.

People often take their friends out to lunch, and pay for the lunch. It's considered a nice thing to do. Yet, those same people, will walk right by a starving poor child, and give nothing. Why is that? Could the reason be, that poor and homeless people can not give anything back? I'm sure most people don't think logically about it, but maybe subconsciously, the way our society has programmed them to act.

People tend to operate in either the helping the rich man, hoping for reward, or the make a contract first, mode of operation. They may change in life threatening situations, but in their everyday lives that is how they operate.

In the case of homeless people, guilt and hopelessness plays a fairly large part as well. People don't like those feelings, so they don't want to put themselves in situations where they'd feel that way.

The point I'm trying to get at here, is there's been lots of research on "conditioning" people. That is a psychology term, which means training. Just like dog training.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, discovered that dogs can be trained or "conditioned" to salivate without seeing food. You probably can't make yourself salivate at will, nor can a dog. It is an involuntary response, but even involuntary responses can be trained.

John Watson did some experiments on an 11-month-old baby, named Albert. Albert showed no fear of the white rat he showed him at first. Watson found that by clanging two metal rods together every time he showed the baby the rat, the baby got frightened and started to cry. After a few repetitions, just the sight of the white rat would cause him to cry and try to crawl away. Not only that, but now Albert seemed to be afraid of any furry objects, including white rabbits, stuffed toys, fur coats, etc.

This kind of conditioning only takes a few repetitions. In our day to day lives, we are constantly being bombarded by conditioning from our system of society. If that sort of conditioning shows us that there is an advantage to lying, cheating, stealing, stepping on people, etc.... If that sort of conditioning shows us that greed allows us to make more money...

The reward training from our society will wear off over time. The longer we are subject to it, the longer it takes to wear off. I really don't know how long it will take for that training to wear off. For some people, it might never wear off.

That's why it tends to be a bit of a downer for me, when I see verses like this. You remember this verse, from the first chapter, where Jesus is telling us about God's new society.

Luk 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

I keep hoping we can save everyone. That we can convince all people to get off of their current path which is leading to their destruction. That all people will join us and live happy wonderful lives in God's new system of society, but... And, I keep hoping that maybe God is just trying to scare people, to get them to change their ways, but...

Realistically, I don't think that is true. Realistically, I don't think it is a scare tactic, but rather an advance warning.

Its God's plan, and God knows what is best. If God had a way to save everyone, I'm sure God would save everyone. God is not stupid.

So many people say that God is cruel and God is evil. It is not God who you need to be worried about. It is mankind. If God didn't exist, you'd be dead by now.

In the story Christ told, 30% of the servants lived, so I suspect God may be planning on saving 30% of mankind. From what I understand of God's plan, that actually seems fairly likely. I'm almost sure that it will not be a small number of people who are saved.

So, we can look at it like, a whole lot of people will die, and be depressed about that, or we can look at it like a whole lot of people will live, and be happy about that. I'd rather be happy that many will live.

If you are sailing your yacht, and you come across a sinking ship, and you realize you can not save them all, do you let them all drown? Or do you save as many as you can save? That is sort of the situation for God saving mankind, except there's plenty of room, there's just not enough love in people's hearts.