It is clearly a Tragedy of the Commons, as ranchers who may own the land but not the minerals beneath, have widely sold access rights to oil companies. The tragedy in question is the complete development of the resource and the consequent loss of any big open landscapes.
All of the 'fiscal cliff' discussions have centered on how to cut government spending on public programs or raise enough revenues to diminish the deficit. But in fact there would be a much smaller deficit if the negotiations included reversing the neglect of our public resources.
In the same way that world history curriculum passes over the social and ecological consequences of land enclosure, the current U.S. history curriculum contributes to a larger ecological illiteracy by glossing over the historical role of nature.
Our challenge is to let go of a relative new story that has defined us as unconnected individuals acting for purely self-interest, and learn from the story that still thrives amongst people like the Mayan Ixil; a story that insists that we can act "in accord with the world."
I have never shied away from being a staunch believer in capitalism as an economic system. Not that capitalism is perfect. It is far from it, as evidenced by a myriad of environmental catastrophes, social ills and corrupt behavior.
The Deletionist Wars on Wikipedia make visible the underlying culture wars that impact so many parts of our lives, our laws, our media and the way we think. Technology can't fix us. We have to fix ourselves.
Just like the farmers in medieval times who took too much advantage of a good grazing thing and faced an overgrazed dust bowl, newspapers and other news content providers today face an ever diminishing amount of advertising dollars.
Informed, committed nations working together should be able to tap into people's common goal to stave off the effects of climate change, but the leaders at Copenhagen neglected some simple rules for creating such cooperation.
What has long been considered the obvious answer to collapsing fisheries -- restrictions on fishing -- has been shown time and time again to be the wrong answer. The right answer is enlightened use of markets.