The Function of Government in the Cases of Tragedy of Commons - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Critical thinking
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  596 Words
Date:  2022-09-06


The government is mandated with protecting its citizens from any harm whether internally or externally anchored. In the case of the private citizen on whose land there is stagnant water in which mosquitoes breed, the government has to intervene to protect the public from potential infection with the Zika virus. In the tragedy of commons dispensation, the public often wants to benefit from a natural resource. However, in this case, the tragedy of commons is overturned in that the public is at risk and the government's intervention is mandatory to protect them.

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On the 25th September 2017, Douglas Quenqua wrote an article in the New York Times about the continuing logging in China forests (Quenqua, 2018). Although the natural resource of the forest is public, the logging is detrimental to the maximization of its benefits. For instance, although the logging was providing an employment opportunity to the individuals perpetuating the business, the animals in the forest were losing their habitat in addition to the gradual destruction of the forests that would result in changes in the climate, as it was an act of deforestation (Quenqua, 2018). The case provided is different but relevant in that the interest of the public is at stake. For instance, the government has to invest in financial resource to drain the water to protect the public from contracting the Zika virus spread by the mosquitoes.

In the case of the forests in China, the government intervened by arresting the loggers and thus, protected the forests from extinction. The arrests meant that other potential loggers became wary of the attempting the same and as a result, protected the natural resource that posses the heritage of the nation (Ostrom, 2015). In the case of the water, securing the facility would ensure that longevity of the availability of the water compared to when the public is allowed to access it directly.

The second role of the government, in this case, is ensuring the comfort of the particular citizen on whose land the stagnant water bred mosquitoes. For instance, if the government's analysis advises that the draining of the stagnate water will take a lot of time leading to the unfairness of the owner, the government can compensate the individual (Ostrom, 2015). The compensation ought to ensure that the citizen purchases another piece of land and settles as fast as possible. By doing so, the government will have ensured that the individual is comfortable and also protected the rest of the public from potential infection with the Zika virus. In the case of the forest in China, the government protected the forest to ensure that the tourism industry does not diminish with continued logging and forest destruction (Quenqua, 2018). The funds emanating from the tourism activities are in turn invested in projects that benefit the whole nation.


In summary, the tragedy of commons is a typical occurrence in most societies all over the world. The respective governments have the responsibility of protecting the public from potential harm. In the case of stagnated water, the authorities ought to drain the water to avert cases of mosquito-caused Zika virus. In the case of the Chine forests, the government is also mandated with protecting resources. The two cases provided diverse examples of the tragedy of commons in a society.


Hochberg, M., & Brown, J. (2014). The tragedy of the tragedy of the commons. Ideas in Ecologyand Evolution, 7. doi: 10.4033/iee.2014.7.19.e

Ostrom, E. (2015). Governing the commons. Elinor Ostrom: Cambridge university press.

Quenqua, D. (2018). Pandas Are No Longer Endangered. But Their Habitat Is in Trouble. Retrieved from

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The Function of Government in the Cases of Tragedy of Commons - Paper Example. (2022, Sep 06). Retrieved from

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