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The National Parks present another instance of the working outof the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to all,without limit. The parks themselves are limited in extent --there is only one Yosemite Valley -- whereas population seems togrow without limit. The values that visitors seek in the parksare steadily eroded. Plainly, we must soon cease to treat theparks as commons or they will be of no value to anyone.
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In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears inproblems of pollution. Here it is not a question of takingsomething out of the commons, but of putting something in --sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water;noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting andunpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. Thecalculations of utility are much the same as before. The rationalman finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he dischargesinto the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastesbefore releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we arelocked into a system of "fouling our own nest," so longas we behave only as independent, rational, free enterprisers.