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Tragedy of the Commons Brenda Anaya

Question:
In what situations are resources subjected to the tragedy of the commons?
Hypothesis:
If people arent communicating or cooperating over the use of a resource then the
resource will be subjected to the tragedy of the commons.
If people are communicating and cooperating over the use of a resource then the resource
will not be subjected to the tragedy of the commons.
Open Access Resource: Antibiotic Uses

Introduction:
The world is filled with resources that we need in order to survive our daily lives, but
these resources wont last long if we dont try to maintain them. When we overuse resources for
individual benefits and the group loses that is the tragedy of the commons. As a result of the
tragedy of the commons, the group will lose because the resource will be exploited and no one
will be able to make use of it anymore. To prevent the tragedy of the commons, people should
communicate with each other over the consumption of the resource and find different methods to
help sustain them. In order to test my hypothesis, the group conducted a simulation lab about an
open access resource under different conditions. A simulation lab helps imitate the same event
that could possibly occur in real life. An example of an open access resource is antibiotic
medicines. Those antibiotic medicines are constantly used for any sickness. 80% are given to
farm animals so they can plump up and keep them alive. In addition, 60% are given to sore
throats when in reality only 10% are bacterial. As a result, 23,000 people are dying annually due
to drug resistant bacteria (Weaver 2013). People all over the world get sick and the constant
solution is to give antibiotics. The benefit may be to help an individual recover, but in the end the
majority will lose because the bacteria are becoming more drug resistant and can eventually kill
someone.

Materials:
Hersheys Kisses
Fabric cloth
Plastic Cups
Paper plate

Methods:
Part 1-
1. Place 16 Hersheys kisses on a paper plate and cover with a cloth
2. Each fisher takes any amount of fishes without communication or strategizing
3. Lift the fabric to reveal the remaining amount of fish
4. At the end of the round, double the amount of fish as reproduction and repeat the second
step for three rounds
Part 2-
1. Place 16 Hersheys kisses on a paper plate
2. Fishers are allowed to communicate and strategize while taking amounts of fish
3. Decide whether or not to place any fish into private pond
4. At the end of the round, double the amount of fish as reproduction and repeat steps two
and three for three rounds

Results:
Part 1: Commons Pond
Round # # of fish at
beginning
of round
# of fish
taken by 1
st

fisher
# of fish
taken by 2
nd

fisher
# of fish
taken by 3
rd

fisher
# of fish
taken by 4
th

fisher
# of fish left
at the end
of round
1 ? 4 5 3 4 0
2 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total XXXX 4 5 3 5 XXXX

Part 2: Commons Pond
Round # # of fish at
beginning
of round
# of fish
taken by 1
st

fisher
# of fish
taken by 2
nd

fisher
# of fish
taken by 3
rd

fisher
# of fish
taken by 4
th

fisher
# of fish left
at the end
of round
1 16 2 2 2 2 8
2 16 2 2 2 2 8
3 16 2 2 2 2 8
Total XXXX 6 6 6 6 XXXX

Part 2: Private Pond
Round # # of fish at beginning
of round
# of fish taken this
round
# of fish left at the end
of round
1 0 0 1
2 2 0 2
3 4 2 2
Total XXXX 2 XXXX




Conclusion:
In conclusion, my hypothesis of communication and cooperation having a connection
with the tragedy of the commons is supported based on these results. Between both parts of the
simulation, there are dramatic differences. In the first simulation, the amount of fish consumed
by all fishers was 16 fishes. Those 16 fishes were the population of fish that lived in the
commons pond. Once the resource ran out, there was no more to go around during the remaining
rounds. On the other hand, the fishers were able to maintain the maximum amount of fishes in
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Part 1- Commons
Part 2- Commons
Part 2- Private
Round #
#

o
f

f
i
s
h

a
t

b
e
g
i
n
n
i
n
g

the commons pond and create their own private pond. Over time, the private pond was able to
grow a small population of fish and maintain maximum capacity. At first there were no fish in
the private pond, but as I placed one fish into the pond the population was able to grow. The
commons pond is open to everyone while the private pond is my own property. If people were to
communicate over a resource then we wont be subjected to the tragedy of the commons. To
illustrate, if we are able to communicate and cooperate over the use of antibiotic medicines, then
we will be able to prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to the medicine. The medical
community must learn to minimize the usage of antibiotics while also trying to maximize health
outcomes. Also, the FDA must regulate their over usage of antibiotics for their farm animals. In
some cases, it may mean to change certain aspects of how farmers raise animals and how doctors
prescribe medicines. As a result, we would also be able to save the lives of thousands of people.
Since the simulation was conducted among students who know each other, it would be much
more accurate to see if the results change if it were conducted with strangers. Therefore,
communication and cooperation over a resource can prevent it from being subjected to the
tragedy of the commons.