The global environment crisis posits a major challenge into the fundamental principles concerning modern development. The relevance of certain development strategies has been questioned due to gradual environment changes in recent history. The recognition of the detrimental impact that modern development has had on the global environment has also assisted in the debate. The pursuit of ‘environmentally sustainable’ development is the ultimate aim to the reformation of the interpretation of the ideals of modern development. Although on the contrary, the overall objective of economic development and environmental protection may instead be mutually exclusive. This notion can be elucidated through the analysis on how development impacts upon the environment, and subsequently how the environment influences development. The nature of the global environment challenge has demonstrated how local and global environment issues are interconnected. This problematises the perception of social and political world consisting of nation states, of which are purely concerned with their respective national interests. The ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ attests to this issue, as it reflects upon a local and international level. Case studies reinforcing the notion of resource exploitation include the 2010 Sahel famine in sub-Saharan Africa, and the highly profitable South East Asian marine shrimp farming industry. The effect climate change influences on modern development practices and the means to how it is addressed are also important to note. Essentially, the global environmental crises proposes a modification of the fundamental ideals surrounding development today. The modification being towards an encouragement of environmentally sustainable development.

 

The notion that local and global environmental issues are interlaced within each other demonstrates why modern development principles must be reconsidered. The ideals of fundamental human rights and the international order are significantly problematised by environmental issues. The harvesting of irreplaceable resources locally may appear minor on a global scale’ although the contrary is the actuality.  The exploitation of finite resources constitutes to the notion how local and global issues are interconnected. Thus, to how it alters the perception of modern development. This is referred in economics as the ‘Tragedy of the Commons.’ This is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, of who act independently to one’s own interest. This is despite the knowledge that the depletion of resources is contrary to the group’s overarching best interests. American ecologist Garret Hardin exposed the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ in his 1968 essay. He wrote, “Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land.”[1]Hardin implies that previously, the tragedy was avoided through war, violence and disease. However, he then iterates that because of the reduction of former hindrances, the tragedy of the commons ensues. “Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.”[2] As a result of “social stability” the overuse of shared resources is realised. The overexploitation of the world’s finite resources, especially during the 20th century has triggered environmental changes. Thus, instigating an alteration in how development is perceived.

 

The canonical example of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ globally is overgrazing. Overgrazing itself has instigated a modification into the fundamentals of modern development. Dr Michael Hogan in his article concerning overgrazing stated the ecological impacts as including, “loss of biodiversity, irreversible loss of topsoil, soil erosion, increase of turbidity in surface waters and increased flooding frequency/intensity.”[3] The effects of overgrazing are highly detrimental, especially in regard to a loss of biodiversity and topsoil, deeming the impact as effectively irreversible.[4] The 2010 Sahel Famine in sub-Saharan Africa is evidence of an overexploitation of shared resources locally, extending throughout an entire region, causing famine. In fact, famine has been a present threat in the Sahel region since 1968.[5] ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ occurred in the region during the 1950s and 1960s following the “the settlement of pastoralists around wells, and the expansion of agriculture north into the pastoralists’ grazing lands.”[6] In accordance with overpopulation and overgrazing in particular areas, desertification and extended droughts contributed to the spread of this local issue, to an international issue, one enveloping the entire Sahel region. The resulting state of extreme drought and famine in the Sahel region has prompted a reconsideration of agricultural development practices. However, because of the vast desertification and resulting famine, only short-term solutions can be propositioned. Means of which to prevent overgrazing can be demonstrated through American agronomist Ed Rayburn demonstrated incentives to avoid overgrazing, “To prevent overgrazing, match the forage supplement to the herd’s requirement… Another potential buffer is to plant warm-season perennial grasses such as switchgrass, which do not grow early in the season.”[7] The management of seasonal grasses and livestock feeding patterns is an alteration into modern agricultural development following the realisation of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons.’ Overgrazing is the canonical example evident within the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ theory. As evident through the case study of the Sahel Famine, overgrazing as reshaped the communal understanding of the ideals surrounding modern development.

 

Economic growth at the expense of resource depletion is another action that has caused an alteration in the principles surrounding development today. Another pinnacle example of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ is the exploitation of the environment in shrimp farming in Southeast Asia. An industry that sacrifices the safeguarding of once shared resources for economic prosperity. This industry also possesses a correlation with the interconnection of local and global development practices, molding also into environmental problems. Shrimp farming has changed from traditional, small-scale businesses, and village harvesting in Southeast Asia, into a thriving global industry. Southeast Asian people have farmed shrimp for centuries, using traditional low-density methods. Coastal areas and riverbanks were used for farming areas, but mangrove areas were favoured because of their abundant natural shrimp populations, especially in Southeast Asia.[8] Commercial shrimp farming began in the 1970s, and subsequently the sustainable methods induced by local businesses fell out of favour with global demand. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “Shrimp is the most valuable traded marine product in the world today. In 2005, farmed shrimp was a 10.6 billion industry. Today, production is growing at an approximate rate of 10 percent annually—one of the highest growth rates in aquaculture.”[9] Because of the substantially large demand for shrimp globally, unsustainable development practices have occurred, leading towards a ‘Tragedy of the Commons.’ Intensive shrimp farming has been undermined by substantial ecological and environmental costs borne by coastal areas. Mangroves in particular have suffered incredibly, in Thailand, a total of 203,765 hectares representing 55 percent of Thailand’s mangrove area were destroyed, of which at least 32 percent were due to conversion to shrimp farms.[10] While in the Philippines approximately half of the mangrove loss of 279,000 hectares from 1951 to 1988 resulted from the development of shrimp farms.[11] The introduction of pathogens can instigate an outbreak of disease in the shrimp species also, causing catastrophic damage. The World Wildlife Fund described the spread of pathogens, “When the shrimp become ill with some diseases, they swim on the surface…of the production pond. Seagulls swoop down, consume the diseased shrimp, and then may subsequently defecate on a pond a few miles away, spreading the pathogen.”[12] This is demonstrative of how a local environmental issue can develop into a regional problem, illustrating the interconnectivity of local and global ecological distresses. The ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ has influenced an environmental change, triggering a rethink into the fundamentals of the shrimp farming industry. As consequence of the severe ecological degradation caused by shrimp farming, the industry introduced programs aiming at administering more sustainable farming practices. A common practice particularly in Western nations is that of ‘Indoor Super-Intensive Shrimp Production Technology.’ Agronomist Tzachi Samocha suggests this development in his article surrounding sustainable shrimp farming in the United States, and writes, “Current technology advancement suggests that a high shrimp yield can be achieved in indoor, super-intensive, closed-recirculation production systems with “zero water exchange.”[13] However, in lower socio-economic societies other sustainable practices must be incorporated. The World Wildlife Fund has introduced incentives to decrease shrimp farming’s toll on the environment. Field-testing, the certification of produces and their products, and cooperation with the buyers have increased pressure upon produces to ensure sustainable shrimp farming practices.[14] The immense shrimp farming industry has altered the perception of the fundamental ideals encompassing modern development.

The process of climate change within the global environmental crises has also attributed to the rethinking of the fundamental assumptions surrounding modern development. Encompassed within the anticipated climate change is the theory of global warming. Global warming is the rise of Earth’s average temperature in the atmosphere and oceans within the previous century and its projected continuation. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.8 °C, with about two-thirds of the increase occurring since 1980.[15] It is argued that this gradual increase has been initiated by the production of harmful greenhouse gases as a result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. The changes in climate have and will manipulate the understanding of development. Although climate change affects development globally, lower socio-economic nations will suffer greater in relation to impacts to development. Campaigning awareness organisation ONE identifies climate change as presenting, “another hurdle to the fight against extreme poverty and disease…in sub-Saharan Africa”[16] ONE highlight a concern in relation to a decline in agricultural productivity as a result of climate change. The areas suitable for agrarian cultivation, the length of growing seasons and the yield potential of food staples are all subject to decline.[17] The danger that climate change poses upon agricultural development strategies in Africa in particular is immensely significant. ONE provides potential responses to the climate change threat on development, “firstly ‘adaptation’ to the consequences of current and future climate change and secondly ‘mitigation’ of climate change by drastically reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding future emissions…and ensure carbon sinks.”[18] These actions undertaken to mask the detrimental effect on development in Africa is evidence of climate change’s forced alteration of the ideals surrounding modern development.

In conclusion, the global environmental crisis enveloping the world today has altered the essential ideals surrounding modern development. Through Garret Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ theory, it was illustrated that development strategies in relation to resource exploitation are severely undermined by the detrimental environment costs it inflicts. This was evident through the excessive overgrazing assisting in the development of the Sahel Famine in 2010 casing a rethink in agrarian development strategies. The monumental Southeast Asian shrimp farming industries also inflicted severe negative effects upon the environment, causing a reconsideration into how shrimp farming was conducted. Both case studies also demonstrated the notion that local and global environment issues share a correlation with local and global development issues, illustrating that the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ is a global phenomenon. The impact of climate change on development is also profound, especially in relation to ‘developing nations.’ The prospect of environmentally sustainable development is the ultimate outcome in the altering of development ideals. Although there are many solutions and responses to the vast array of environmental issues demonstrated, many of the cases are irreversible. Unfortunately, the overall objective of economic development and environmental protection may instead be mutually exclusive.

 

 

Bibliography:

Books:

Tzachi Samocha, ‘Review of Some Recent Developments in Sustainable Shrimp Farming Practices in Texas, Arizona, and Florida,’ (2002) Journal of Applied Aquaculture, (page 4) URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1300/J028v12n01_01

  1. R. E. Sinclair, J. M. Fryxell, ‘The Sahel of Africa: ecology of a disaster’ (1985) Canadian Journal of Zoology. URL: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z85-147#.UZm6OJX5mng

 

National Research Council, ‘America’s Climate Choices,’ (2011) Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. (Page 15) URL: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12781&page=15

Research/Scholar articles:

Garret Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons,’  (1968) Science Magazine, URL: http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/v1003/lectures/population/Tragedy%20of%20the%20Commons.pdf

Ed Rayburn, ‘Overgrazing Can Hurt Environment, Your Pocketbook’ (2000) West Virginia Farm Bureau News, West Virginia University. URL: http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/forglvst/overgraz.htm

Roy Lewis, ‘Thematic Review on Coastal Wetland Habitats and Shrimp Aquaculture’ (2003) World Bank/NACA/WWF/FAO Consortium Program on Shrimp Farming and the Environment (pg 5) URL: http://library.enaca.org/Shrimp/Case/Thematic/FinalMangrove.pdf

 

 

Noticias del día, ‘The downside of shrimp farming and trade in Southeast Asia,’ (2005) URL: http://www.panoramaacuicola.com/noticias/2005/10/31/the_downside_of_shrimp_farming_and_trade_in_southeast_asia.html

Jurgenne Honculada- Primavera, Socio-economic aspects of shrimp culture,’ (1997) South-east Asian Fisheries Development Centre. Iloilo. Philippines URL: http://www.cdca.it/IMG/pdf/Socio_economic_impacts_of_shrimp_culture.pdf

Websites:

World Wildlife Fund, ‘Farmed Shrimp,’  (2013) URL: http://worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp

ONE, ‘The Issues: Climate and Development’  (2013) URL: http://www.one.org/c/international/issue/947/

 

 

 

[1] Garret Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons,’  (1968) Science Magazine, URL: http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/v1003/lectures/population/Tragedy%20of%20the%20Commons.pdf

 

[2] Ibid ^

 

[3] Michael Hogan, ‘Overgrazing,’ (2010, revised 2012) Encyclopedia of Earth, Washington, D.C. URL: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Overgrazing?topic=49480

 

[4] Ibid ^

 

[5] A. R. E. Sinclair, J. M. Fryxell, ‘The Sahel of Africa: ecology of a disaster’ (1985) Canadian Journal of Zoology. URL: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z85-147#.UZm6OJX5mng

 

[6] Ibid ^

 

[7] Ed Rayburn, ‘Overgrazing Can Hurt Environment, Your Pocketbook’ (2000) West Virginia Farm Bureau News, West Virginia University. URL: http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/forglvst/overgraz.htm

 

[8] Roy Lewis, ‘Thematic Review on Coastal Wetland Habitats and Shrimp Aquaculture’ (2003) World Bank/NACA/WWF/FAO Consortium Program on Shrimp Farming and the Environment (pg 5) URL: http://library.enaca.org/Shrimp/Case/Thematic/FinalMangrove.pdf

 

[9] World Wildlife Fund, ‘Farmed Shrimp,’  (2013) URL: http://worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp

 

[10] Noticias del día, ‘The downside of shrimp farming and trade in Southeast Asia,’ (2005) URL: http://www.panoramaacuicola.com/noticias/2005/10/31/the_downside_of_shrimp_farming_and_trade_in_southeast_asia.html

 

[11]Jurgenne Honculada- Primavera, Socio-economic aspects of shrimp culture,’ (1997) South-east Asian Fisheries Development Centre. Iloilo. Philippines URL: http://www.cdca.it/IMG/pdf/Socio_economic_impacts_of_shrimp_culture.pdf

 

[12] World Wildlife Fund, ‘Farmed Shrimp,’  (2013) URL: http://worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp

[13] Tzachi Samocha, ‘Review of Some Recent Developments in Sustainable Shrimp Farming Practices in Texas, Arizona, and Florida,’ (2002) Journal of Applied Aquaculture, (page 4) URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1300/J028v12n01_01

[14] World Wildlife Fund, ‘Farmed Shrimp,’  (2013) URL: http://worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp

 

[15] National Research Council, ‘America’s Climate Choices,’ (2011) Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. (Page 15) URL: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12781&page=15

 

[16] ONE, ‘The Issues: Climate and Development’  (2013) URL: http://www.one.org/c/international/issue/947/

 

[17] Ibid ^

 

[18] Ibid ^

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