Tragedy of the Commons: American Environmentalism

The tragedy of the commons is something that will certainly apply to fossil fuel consumption in the near future. The passage of legislation in the United States concerning fossil fuel consumption (because of its ostensible impact on global temperatures) may have a positive impact on those temperatures, assuming the relationship does in fact exist. However, the hampering of American productivity because of these self-imposed handicaps will have a detrimental impact when comparing the productivity of the United States with other, less scrupulous countries. Only with a worldwide limitation on fossil fuel consumption could the balance (by balance I mean current ratios) in productivity be maintained.

Using the cow-grazing metaphor: If we stop grazing in the common, other countries will be able to increase their grazing. This is the case whether or not you believe other countries even own cows at this point.

Note: The above do not make a case for whether American hegemony should be maintained. Rather, the above notes that supporters of American hegemony might consider how environmental legislation poses a threat to it.

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