Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 7 Post

The tragedy of the commons basically states that an unregulated resource that gives all an equal opportunity to access it will eventually be consumed to the point of non existence by a constant mounting consumption. It seems much more difficult to find modern day examples of consumption patterns that fit the tragedy of the commons due to highly regulated and privatized resource distribution that eliminate the possibility for unlimited consumption of certain goods. However, emerging China is experiencing a tragedy of the commons occurrence in it's booming economic expansion and population growth. China is seeming an emerging movement of it's citizens towards a middle class capable of accessing and consuming an increasing amount of water. Furthermore, as China's population continually grows, urbanization and population density expands as well. The need for plumbing and flowing water to residence and urban centers is in constant flux with the use of toilets, sinks, drinking water, and other commercial needs are required to be addressed. Agriculture production also faces a constant pull from consumers to provide more for a growing economy, which requires an exponential amount of water use. To meet this demand, China industry rapidly increased irrigation and pipelines in a relatively unplanned and inefficient way. Never having to address water shortages before, the abundance of water that China seemed to comfortably have intact was continually tapped to feed this swelling population. Economic and monetary increase for the growing middle class also gave Chinese citizens that ability to spend more on water and cut out the requirement to budget their water consumption.

Chinese citizens all had access to some degree to water consumption, and, given the increased ability to access it, increased their consumption accordingly. The issue of a water scarcity was an unforeseen consequence of this consumption growth that was fairly inevitable following the law of the tragedy of the commons, due to the upward sloping availability of water to the commons of China.

Since this issue is an emerging concern, and not yet a full blown crisis, there has not been an extent of ideas to combat a water shortage that have been unsuccessful. However, Chinese government is attempting to address this issue through technological advancements such as making a more efficient crop seed that can better retain drops of water, cutting the amount of water necessary to produce a sufficient amount of Chinese agricultural goods. Additional infrastructure such as dams and canals are also being proposed in order to curb wasted water and redirect water flow to restore disappearing streams and rivers.

However, a concern should still remain for the Chinese government if the countries population continues to expand. How much water consumption can technological development supplement if population continually skyrockets? Being a proponent of ecological development, I believe the most effective way to address a growing water shortage is to place restrictions on the amount of water consumption, industrially but primarily commercially, possible for Chinese residents. It's inevitable that as freedom and flexibility to access goods increases, the use of these goods will move beyond necessity and resources will be wasted. Placing fines or regulations on the amount on the massive Chinese population could aid the technological development of the Chinese government in more effectively using water resources.

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