Technology dependent commons

Authored by: Nina Wormbs

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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Many commons are central to our existence. The air, the water and the forest, to name but a few, are commons necessary for survival, and we value them as crucial parts of life on earth. When they are compromised, polluted or deteriorated in some way, they cannot serve us and our normal way of life is threatened. Often this is due to technological change and the expansion of humanity, two things tightly coupled. The shrinking of forests in the Roman Empire was connected to the enlargement of the territory and high demand for wood for building and cooking. The London smog, a result of industrialization and the growth of coal burning factories, from time to time made it most difficult to breathe and caused deaths. The acidification of present-day seas, that poses unprecedented threats to the salt waters of the world, is part of climate change and the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate change in turn is anthropogenic and the so-called Great Acceleration of our impact after the 1950s has been made possible through science and technology (Steffen et al. 2007).

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