The global commons are natural resources that are outside of the jurisdiction of any one nation. Instead, they belong to all members of society. For example, things like the atmosphere, the oceans, and outer space are all global commons. Unfortunately, the planet is currently facing what is called “the tragedy of the commons,” which is when individuals neglect or deplete these resources for their personal gain.
For example, overfishing is destroying marine ecosystems, reducing biodiversity, and harming local coastal communities. Overfishing creates imbalances in the food web which end up hurting entire marine ecosystems and coastal economies. For instance, it has pushed species like the Pacific bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction. When fish like this disappear from their environment, their predators can die out, too, and slowly but surely, areas of the water that once were thriving, like coral reefs, are destroyed. Sadly, many banks like Citi actually fund companies that participate in overfishing. In doing so, these banks are helping to destroy a critical global common.
The fast fashion industry is another example of a group destroying a global common. Many upscale clothing companies like Burberry have been known to burn surplus clothes rather than sell them at a discount price. Burning products like these releases plastic microfibers into the atmosphere, which can be harmful to both the environment and human health.