An Economic Analysis of the International Ivory Ban as Applied to Garrett hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons"
Kellar, Douglas Eric
MetadataShow full item record
"Some look at elephants and celebrate the· majesty of nature. Others see only jewelry, ornaments, personal seals, dice, piano . keys, billiard balls and knife handles that can be fashioned from an elephant's massive ivory tusks" (54, p. 11). Both views differ dramatically, but both assume that the elephant will continue to exist, and that its existence directly benefits society. The African elephant's continued existence, however, is anything but certain. It may, in fact, become extinct within the next ten to twenty years. The major objectives of this paper are to demonstrate precisely how drastic the African elephant's position has become, and to supply ·economic justification for the adoption of an international ban on ivory as an appropriate means of preventing its future extinction. In order to accomplish these objectives, I have focused primarily upon two major aspects of the African elephant's current situation. The first concerns the history of the international trade in ivory and the subsequent movement demanding its demise. The second focuses upon basic economic concepts and Garrett Hardin's "tragedy of the commons." Once these foundational aspects have been sufficiently examined, an analysis is presented which manages to incorporate all of the varying factors involved, and displays exactly why an international ban on ivory may be the elephant's only remaining chance for survival. Bill Mckibben stated within his book, The End of Nature, that mankind had finally achieved a position of complete dominance over the environment in which it lives. He said that humans are no longer intruders upon the environment, but rather, are now the sole controllers of what transpires within it. Therefore, mankind has a tremendous responsibility to "properly" direct the processes of nature. If it fails to accomplish this task, the result can be directly attributed to its own shortcomings. He continues to predict that this dominance will undoubtedly lead to a perversion of "nature", and that only· those who love man, and the accomplishments of man, will find happiness within such a world. Those who love nature will find only sorrow and aggravation. I hope that this does not transpire, and that nature will remain largely independent of our own fluctuating ideals and drastically limited perceptions of the world and our place in it. But if it turns out that that is the dismal course which we are ultimately forced to follow, perhaps this study, and others like it, may in some way be able to preserve the dignity of nature, and possibly prevent it from being ruthlessly abused and ultimately destroyed.