Saving the Planet
Cutting Costs and Helping the Environment
Author: Jack Perschke, Nick Paget-Brown, Faraz Baber and Tom Chance |
Saving the Planet: Cutting Costs and Helping the Environment
41 years ago, Science published an article by Garrett Hardin titled ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’. Using the metaphor of herders on common land, he illustrated the inevitability of environmental destruction when humans follow individual self-interest in the management of a common resource. In a world where we seem to be careering towards the global car crash of climate change, eyes wide open but seemingly powerless to change course, Hardin’s tragedy seems more poignant than ever.
However, there is optimism to be found in his analogous tale of environmental decay. We are, of course, more than a collection of individuals. We already accept the necessity of banding together to form a community that protects social goods and limits the external impacts of our actions. At their most local, these communities are represented by our Councils.
It is at this level that the blue-prints for effective management can be developed and tested. If we can protect our environment locally – if small sustainable communities can be formed – then there is no reason that these models cannot go on to protect nationally and globally. We always talk about councils being at the coal-face of democracy, we now have a chance to embrace that responsibility and lead from the front.
In conjunction with Localis and Ernst & Young, I’ve been pushing an initiative to bring experts together to innovate radical new policies for environmental sustainability that councils can own and develop locally. We’re halfway through the process and on track to deliver something really exciting.
However, it can only work if councils believe that they can make a difference, realise that there is no one else to look to and have the confidence to try something radical. I believe that we’re slowly getting there. Indeed, the ideas discussed below highlight exactly what can be done if we resolve that managing our local commons must not end in tragedy.