Conservatives are always wrong: Death of the Oceans edition

As part of my attempt to return to blogging after a case of end-of-semesteritis combined with some grims magnified by sad family news, here’s the first of what I hope will be some resurrections of posts begun but not completed during the last month or so that might (he fondly hopes) retain some relevance.

To begin:

Some while back, as in before BP et al. wreaked havoc on the Gulf, Andrew Sullivan flagged this TED talk by Jeremy Jackson.

In it, Jackson covers some, but by no means all of the disasters wrought by last fifty years spent demonstrating the tragedy of commons on the world’s oceans. The BP/Global Horizon catastrophe is signal in the size of the single incident, but, as Jackson begins to convey, is itself dwarfed by the accumulation of thousands, then millions of much smaller bad decisions.

The key point that emerges from Jackson’s talk as much as it does from the more spectacular market failure evident in the Gulf of Mexico tragedy, is that self correcting invisible hands do not work their magic on a resource in which the logic of the commons leads to uncontained exploitation of a resource.So watch the talk — it’s worth the full twenty minutes or so.

Full disclosure: it will ruin your day, the more so when you realize that every word was spoken before we ever heard the terms “top kill” or “junk shot.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Environment, good public communication of science, Massive Fail, Oceans, Science, Talks, TED

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2 Comments on “Conservatives are always wrong: Death of the Oceans edition”

  1. Jim Bales Says:


    I’m sorry to hear that you have had sad family news heaped on top of the grims–it is a miserable combination.

    A recent post over at Making Light gives me a glimmer of hope (though not much more than that). It is about the Dutch phrase Samen Leven, meaning (literally) “to live together”, or more generally, “the concept that no matter how much we differ, we all have to find a way to not just coexist but actively cooperate.”

    It is a short post, but it shows that some people in this world seem to get it. They get that this is our only world, this is our only life, and, like it or not, we are all in it together. “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

    May you and yours find solace and, in due time, joy,

  2. […] Tom Levenson on why the logic of the galt is lame: (The) self correcting invisible hands do not work their magic on a resource in which the logic of th… […]

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