Wild fire has threating both property and life for those who lives near Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. According to my roommate who is from Santa Fe, there is a high possibility for the national forest to be ignited due to the huge amount of plants. Increase logging should be considered sincerely as a public good to protect the people there. But first, What is a public good? The definition of a public good may be different for different people. Some people may see it as a good for which nobody is excluded from using. Some people may see it as a good that is provided by the government for the benefit of the general population. Others may define a public good as a disaster. All in all, a public good is mostly provided by the government for the purpose of the common good of the people; and in most cases not prone to bring disaster to the society.
In “Public goods and government action,” Jonathan Anomaly proposes a criterion that defines a public good as anything that exhibits nonexcludability and nonrivaltry. These are two very important characteristics of a public good. Based on this criterion, Anomaly points out that a public good can either be local or global. An example of a local public good is a neighborhood playground or the endangered Californian condor. An example of a global public good, on the other hand, is the reduction of the harmful chemical emissions that deplete the ozone. Anomaly further writes that a public good can not only be supplied by the government, but can also be supplied privately. Examples of government supplied public goods include maintaining of legal and judicial system that is impartial; supplying a military to protect a country from external invasion ; maintaining public institutions that are advantageous to the greater society. Public goods, according to Anomaly, can be supplied privately through private charities and assurance contracts. A good example identified by Anomaly is the Nature Conservancy, which is a private charity that takes measures towards preserving animals and forests in foreign countries and in the U.S.
In “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Garrett Hardin’s criterion of a public good can be understood to be something that is open to all people. Hardin demonstrates this definition by giving an example of a pasture that is open to all herdsmen. Under this criterion of a public good, Hardin explains that such goods are prone to be exploited by individuals because people can seek to benefit individually from public goods at the expense of all the other people that use that specific public good. One thing that can clearly be seen here is that both Anomaly and Hardin agree on the criterion of public good that is characterized by nonexcludability. The one thing that separates Anomaly’s criterion of public good from that of Hardin is the applicability of public goods in our contemporary society. While Anomaly’s criterion clearly shows that public goods are present in our today’s society, Hardin’s criterion seems to suggest that a public good may not be able to withstand a society where there is social stability. According to Hardin, is because in a system of commons freedom tends to bring ruins to all people since people only look to maximize what they can get from the public good or the involved common.
In “Why Aren’t We Talking About Public Goods,” June Sekera gives, perhaps, the most straight forward criterion for defining a public good is the criterion that is easy for anybody to understand. Sekera defines public goods as the various goods and services provided by the government that benefit the population on a daily basis. Examples of these include police and fire protection, clean water, clean air, 911, stop signs, street lights, a legal system, disaster relief, food and drug safety, and several others. Both Anomaly and Sekera’s criteria define a public good as a good that is provided by the government for the benefit of the population. Since such a good is provided for all, Hardin’s criterion joins both the definitions of Anomaly and Sekera in that a public good is that good that is meant to benefit all the people without discrimination. Hardin, however, seems to be saying that public goods are disastrous to the society.
Fundamental weather patterns are continually being altered by climate change, with water availability, temperatures, and weather extremes being the most affected weather patterns. This has significant effects in people living in various most affected areas including the ones located to forests, such as the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. The climate of New Mexico is getting drier and hotter which is being driven by global and regional warming trends according to Union of Concerned Science. With more wild forest fires being experienced in New Mexico, there is a necessity for measures to be taken to prevent people living in close proximities to Santa Fe National Forest from facing the loss of their lives and property from such fires. People living near the forest generally face an increased risk of wild fires and such a risk can effectively be minimized through the maintenance of sufficient defensive space. Increased logging in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico is thus a public good.
The criteria for a public good are that it should be characterized by non-excludability and nonrivalry, and is meant for the benefit of the general public. A good that is considered to be nonexclusive is a good in which all the members of the public are allowed to enjoy or benefit from it. It is something for which no group or class of the members of the public are limited from accessing, using, or getting some benefit from. In terms of the nonrivalry aspect of a public good, this is a good for which members of the public can benefit from simultaneously without having to fight for how, when, who should benefit from it from a given point in time, also implies that it is a good that is readily available to the members of the public at any time of need without having to fight or struggle to benefit from it that that specific time of need.
Increased logging in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico is partially meets the criteria for a public good. The reason for this is that if increased logging is done to create safe spaces between the forest and human settlements, then it would satisfy the proposed criteria for a public good and it is a method that has been employed in the United States in the past through the National Fire Plan as well as the Healthy Forest Initiative. It involves reducing fire hazards through the use of active fuel management that is done via prescribed burning and logging according to Stone, Hudak and Morgan. Supposing that a wildfire breaks out in the forest, the safe space between the forest and the human settlements will benefit all those at risk of falling victims of the wild fire without some of them being victims of them fire. All those who need to benefit from the safe space created through increased logging will have their lives and property preserved from wild fire destruction and also shows how the nonexcludability asset of the criteria is met by increased logging in the forest. Similarly, if such a scenario was to arise, all people who would otherwise have been the victims of wild fire outbreak would benefit from the safe spaces created through increased logging simultaneously or collectively. They will not have to fight or compete to benefit from the safe spaces that have been created from increased logging in the outskirts of the forest. The problem with increased logging in the forest, which is why this claim can be said to partially meet the criteria, is that there is a possibility that certain tree species may be lost due to increased logging in Santa Fe National Forest. Environmental activists would feel excluded with efforts involving the use of excessive logging to prevent the disastrous effects of the wild fires that could possibly emerge from the forest.
In conclusion, therefore the chosen criteria of a public good in this paper is that it should it should be characterized by non-excludability and nonrivalry, and meant for the benefit of the general public. Increased logging in Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico for the purpose of reducing the negative effects of wild fires partly satisfies this paper’s criteria owing to the fact that the practice goes against the wishes and preferences of some members of the public, such as environmental activists.
Anomaly, Jonathan. “Public Goods and Government Action.” Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, 14(2), 109-128, 2015.
Hardin, Garrett. “The Tragedy of Commons.” Science, 438-450, 1968.
Sekera, June. “Why Aren’t We Talking About Public Goods?” Demos, 20 September 2013, https://www.demos.org/blog/why-arent-we-talking-about-public-goods
Stone, Carter., Hudak, Andrew. & Morgan, Penelope. “Forest Harvest Can Increase Subsequent Forest Fire Severity.” Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Fire Economics, Planning, and Policy. A Global Review, Cordoba, 19-22 April 2004, https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr208en/psw_gtr208en_525- 534_stone.pdf
Union of Concerned Scientists. Confronting Climate Change in New Mexico. Union of Concerned Scientists USA, April 2016, https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/04/Climate-Change-New-Mexico- fact-sheet.pdf