LETTER: Managing the Commons

From reader Ron Robinson

Where I live and literally every place I have ever visited has public spaces often referred to as the “Commons.” They belong to the entire community and are for the benefit of everyone in that community – even me if I visit.

Now expand the community to 7.9 billion people and try to define the Commons. It is now bigger than the park down the street, but still something that is shared by all and in theory no advantage given to any one person. With this expanded community, it might be that our planet is the Commons with our community including every living thing.

Now this makes me worried. My lifestyle and those who live in my area of the Commons have been using and in fact taking control of some parts of the Commons to the point of using legislated policy, even military intervention if needed.

Now back to the more local community, where management recognizes the various risks and benefits that need consideration. As we scale up, risks and benefits become more complicated and our sense of community almost disappears.

The global Commons is indeed the planet and the risks and benefits in its management are ever so more important than any community common space I have ever visited. What will be our global strategy to reduce the risks and increase the benefits for all?

Ron Robinson