What is referred to as the "tragedy of the commons"?
"The commons", that is open to all.
IN 1968, Biologist Garrett Hardin wrote an essay named " The Tragedy of the Commons ." He describes, in this article, events in an imaginary cow/cattle grazing area that is open to all. No limitations exist on how many animals can use there. If a limited number of cow/cattle per year are benefited, the commons can renew itself and act as a satisfactory grazing source forever.
However, each farmer seeks to maximize his own benefit by adding more animals to his/her herd. Since there are no limitations on the size of a herdsman/herdswoman's herd, the commons are used excessively and finally ruined for grazing.
Environmental scientists who have probed the problem of common property (such as air and water) resources typically agree on the need for an alternative solution to unregulated private use. According to Ortolano (1997) "Effective management of common property resources requires restraints on individual users to prevent the resources of the people at large from being destroyed by excessive use."
Reference: Ortolano, L. (1997). Environmental Regulation and Impact Assessment. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, NY. USA.