GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Lesson 11 Reading


Required Reading:

Ostrom, E., Burger, J., Field, C. B., Norgaard, R. B., & Policansky, D. (1999). Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges. Science, 284(5412), 278–282. 

How can we establish global institutions to manage climate change? Can successfully managed common property resources offer any lessons? These are the questions that the authors are looking to examine in this article. The article reviews the literature on commons since 1968 and identifies attributes of resources and resource users that are most likely to lead to successful common property resources. It then briefly discusses some of the issues in scaling up regional common property resources. The article concludes by highlighting three lessons that could potentially serve as a starting point in thinking of global commons management: multilevel institutions which “build on and complement local and regional institutions to focus on truly global problems”, use of improved technology (long range weather forecast or fish tracking), and “broad dissemination of widely believed data could be a major contributor to the trust that is so central to effective CPR management” (p. 282). 

Nicholls, R. J., & Cazenave, A. (2010). Sea-Level Rise and Its Impact on Coastal Zones. Science, 328, 1517–1520. 

The article points out two components that have received less attention in research on sea level rise: the first is the non-climate related anthropogenic processes (such as oil and gas drilling, dam construction) that amplify the vulnerability associated with sea level rise, and the second is the uncertainties regarding adaptation strategies, which are not accounted for in impact studies. Regarding adaptation the authors claim that coastal cities would not see a widespread retreat since their high value would result in them being protected. However, the choice between protection, accommodation and planned retreat as adaptation options will be influenced by several factors, technical, socio-political and economic.

NOTE: Links to the readings are located in the Lesson 11 module in Canvas.