Designing an early stimulus, is another way out of tragedy of commons


I walk into the kitchen. Seeing a yummy paratha lying in a steel plate next to the gas, I walk upto it. ‘Should I go for it?’ I am thinking. ‘Why? Nothing prevents me!’, I tell myself as I reach out to lift the plate.



‘Ow!’ the plate is hot and I pull my hand away immediately.



I look around. There is the smell of chillies in the kitchen and I feel a sneeze coming up. ‘Aaa chi’. I silently mumble ‘bless you’ to myself and, .. ‘Aaa chi’. And another, ‘Aaa chi’.



I quickly switch the exhaust fan on. A busy whirr fills the room and chilly smells begin to wane as the exhaust fan does its work.



The plate has cooled down a bit by now and I walk with it, in my hand, to the dining chair.



‘With so much chilli smell floating around, who needs chilli pickle?’, I say to myself, as I avoid the extra detour to the pickle jar at the other end of the kitchen.



As I sit down on the chair, to munch the paratha, the whirr of the ‘still on’ exhaust fan intrudes into my thoughts. I walk back to the kitchen, switch it off, and come sit down again - Pleased with myself at my own green gesture.



‘My paratha is surely well earned now’, I tell myself. And I think a bit more about what I just did.



  1. I pulled my hand away, the moment I realized through my touch, that the plate was hot.
  2. When the atmosphere was polluted – with chilli smell - and it started affecting me, I immediately took action.
  3. I was able to judge, that the plate would be cooler a little later, by applying well known laws of physics (actually just common sense J) – and take action.
  4. I did not walk extra for the pickle but was willing to walk extra for switching the exhaust fan off.



So why does it become so different when it comes to dramatic and larger -  climate change? The scale is grander – much grander – than my silly little paratha and still I do not act. Though I am – in principle – all for it.



I wonder why?



  1. If we know that a steel plate is hot, we avoid touching it till it is cold. But if we know that this planet is hot (strictly speaking, getting hotter), we do nothing to save ourselves. Or, is it that nothing will happen?
  2. If the pollution from chillies smoke can get us sneezing, the  pollution from chemicals much worse, will affect us too. Or, is it that no pollution is happening?
  3. If we have the information that the exhaust fan is running and so too the meter for the bill, we are ready to take action - Is there no bill waiting for us at the end of this party?



So why are we so mute? So silent? So passive?



Is it because of the tragedy of the commons? (no one owns the problem, when everyone thinks that by themselves, they can do nothing about it, but someone ought to do something about it)



Is it because when it comes to climate change, action and results, are likely to be separated by a long interval of time? (and by corollary, What’s in it for me? Today?)



What do you think? Why are we so mute? So silent? So passive?

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