Class on November 28 2017

Kathy started off the class with a tragedy of the commons game. All students had to choose by secret ballot either 2 or 6 points to get added to their final points. If the class goes over 26, no points for anyone. All the students chose 2 so the total was 22 (they all got two points on their final).

Kathy then explained that only one person could have chosen 6 (all but one student said they had figured out the math themselves). None of the students thought too seriously about choosing 6.

Kathy went over the Boston Common tragedy of the commons - William Foster Lloyd wrote about shared pasture in 1833 in England. Thomas Hardin came up with Tragedy of the Commons science in 1968.

Kathy then gave out Tragedy of Commons case studies to the group to read and prepare for discussion (identify the commons. identify the tragedy. How can it be resolved (or how was it resolved)? Why pays for changing the way things are done? Is the tragedy reversible or not?

Students took turns leading the discussion.

Case study one: The Pacific Plastic Gyre in the mid-Pacific (larger than the size of Texas). Plastics don't breakdown quickly. Pollutants and struggles in the food web (bioaccumulation all the way up to humans). Long road to remedy (we all would pay). Less plastics (recycle and use alternatives). And less toxic materials.

Case study two: Gulf of Mexico dead zone (5000 square miles). Oxygen in the gulf is the commons. Alternative chemicals that deplete oxygen is the tragedy. It is reversible but will cost a lot and take a long time to remedy. Many causes so hard to pin down for remedy.

3) Great London Toxic Fog: Remedied eventually by a clean air act in parliament. 8000 people had died from the 1952 event. Connections to near cases in China lately.

4) Tragedy of a great American river (Mississippi in MSP): Water was killing 95 people a year. People were moving away from the river and caring about it. Tragedy was the pollution of the river. Was remedial through separating sewage from other water systems. Although now there are still issues with farming practices into the Minnesota River. Clean-up mainly from taxpayer money sources.

5) Indonesian aquaculture: water quality deterioration and pests. Government paying to improve and to generate carrying capacity standards for new reservoirs being created.

Kathy then asked to focus a discussion of potential tragedy of the commons within the Narrow River:
  • Motorized boats cause pollution (oil and gas from boating)
  • Run-off from lawn fertilizers, sewage leaks (septic), gas and oil from the car, salt from roads, animal waste (biggest issue right now is bird waste).
  • Changing the river from development (from 2500 houses to 4000, 1980 to 2005).
  • Run off from impervious surfaces
Harder to coordinate remedies because there are three towns through which the Narrow River basin sits.

Lucie told the story of the remedy of where she was renting (add a pipe to the septic to flush directly to the river).

Kathy went over the Watershed Watch program that is doing monitoring on the Narrow River (over 25 years). She gave an overview of the water quality results from 1992 to 2012 (Fecal Chloroform) for the Middlebridge location.

Useful Public service announcements:
  • Drains to the sea markers
  • Pick up after your pet announcements
  • No lawn clippings or other littoral dumping in the river
  • Don't feed the birds
  • Support detention ponds and catchments