The social dilemmas of climate change and antibiotic resistance: An analytic comparison and discussion of policy implications.
journal contributionposted on 09.09.2021, 09:59 by Niklas Harring, Eva Krockow
Climate change and antimicrobial resistance are two of humanity’s most imminent problems. Reducing the use of fossil fuels and antibiotics is essential for managing the threats, and theory-based policies are required to stimulate urgently needed behaviour change. This article analyses climate change and antimicrobial resistance within the context of game theory. Previous literature has identified these problems as Commons tragedies, where inherent incentive structures encourage selfish overuse of existing resources. While the game theoretical models provide a helpful conceptual basis, the present analysis suggests discrepancies between some of the theoretical assumptions and the practical realities of climate change and antimicrobial resistance. These include complex networks of decision makers, non-binary choice contexts complicated by temporal and spatial distance between choices and outcomes, and different ethical implications of resource overuse. Policy implications are discussed, highlighting the need of global agreements for coordinating local initiatives for both dilemmas. However, different target groups may be necessary to address the existence of gate keepers (e.g., medical prescribers) in antibiotic use. Additionally, while certain policies types (e.g., information policies) apply to both dilemmas, more nuanced ethical considerations mean that some economic policies (e.g., punitive policies) may be limited to managing climate change.