For thousands of years, humans have survived off growing food from farms and plantations, relying heavily on fertile topsoil to meet their survival needs. However, as the human population grows at an increasing rate, the amount of fertile topsoil is dwindling (Bongaarts, 2009). In the last 150 years, half of the topsoil in the world has been lost (World Wildlife Organization). As described in Garrett Hardin’s essay The Tragedy of the Commons, the shared usage of the world’s limited topsoil makes it a commons. Furthermore, the individual interest of the rational man to maximize his gain without regard for the interest of the commons is polluting topsoil and depleting it of its natural resources (Hardin, 1968). To remedy this, popular agricultural practices have led to the use of chemical fertilizers and manure to replenish depleted soils with nutrients. If continued usage of chemical fertilizers is used, the pollution caused by it will eventually pollute the world entire water supply (Savci, 2012). With technical solutions such as alternative solutions to harmful chemical fertilizers failing, another solution would be to provide education to those in industries making decisions on using fertilizer options combined with subsidies and tax incentives for other environmental friendly alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons discussion of the rational herdsman’s gain resulting in overgrazing provides a great comparison to the industries’ usage of chemical fertilizers polluting water. Hardin defines commons to be a depletable shared resource that everyone has free access to. Hardin also says that “As a rational being, each man seeks to maximize his gain” without considering the effects on others or the commons. In his example of the herdsmen, Hardin states that rational herdsmen will obtain another animal to increase his gain at the expense of others’ utility of the commons. The conflict of personal gain and collective interest, leads to the tragedy of the commons. The tragedy is inevitable since all rational individuals will seek to maximize their profit for self-interest without regard leading to the depletion of the shared resource. Hardin also states that many problems facing society such as overpopulation are not solvable with either a technical solution or an appeal to morality. In his example of overpopulation and pollution, government legislation and incentives provide non-technical solutions. Issues like these can be solved by both the government educating citizens of the effects of their actions combined with legislation regulating the harmful action and potential incentives rewarding those who act in a manner beneficial to preserving the commons.Hardin’s essay discusses the issue of overpopulation in the world leading to a decreased amount of shared resources. He goes further and says that overpopulation combined with the tragedy of the commons is destroying the resources available to us. Hardin provides two examples of the tragedy of the commons as population grows. The first example is wasting useful resources after hunting of animals such as bison. Hardin says that “A hundred and fifty years ago, a plainsman could kill an American bison, cut out only the tongue for his dinner, and discard the rest of the animal. He was not in any important sense being wasteful.” As population grows, such behavior can no longer be tolerated since the bison population is dwindling and will go extinct if human values do not change. Another example is pollution of shared waters by toxic materials. It used to be common belief that “Flowing water purifies itself every 10 miles.” This belief was valid in the sense that there were very little sources of pollution in the past (Hardin, 1968).The tragedy of the commons in the bison above is the clash of the individual interest to hunt bison for one’s own interest with the collective interest of not pushing bison to extinction to have enough of the commons for everybody. The individual interest regarding pollution is for individuals to easily dispose of their waste in local waters since it is cheaper or more convenient whereas the collective interest is for everybody to take extra measures to properly dispose of pollutants or treat pollutants before disposing into shared waters. The root cause of both these problems is overpopulation which. The individual interest is to have more children to expand family size, however the collective interest is to limit the number of children to prevent overpopulation from depleting our commons. Technical solutions by itself will not solve this issue since there are moral concerns regarding family size. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is stated that “the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else” (Hardin, 1968). Looking at the issue of increased usage of chemical fertilizers, the commons is the shared topsoil and amount of clean water available. Both of these fit Hardin’s definition of a commons since they are both relatively easily accessible and shared among all. Since the survival of the agricultural industry relies heavily on fertile topsoil and the survival of the human race depends on the availability of the clean water, both of these resources have a collective interest to be preserved. The rational self-interested individual or corporation makes decisions based on economic benefits to themselves without much regard for the damage done to the commons. There are both organic and chemical fertilizers available for farmers to choose from. Organic fertilizers are made from previously alive materials and are often mixed up with other plant fibers and materials to reduce the concentration of nutrients in any certain area. However, farmers often choose to use chemical fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium since it can be formulated for the exact plants they want to grow and since it absorbs faster (Faires). Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and manure to replenish soil with nutrients can result in toxic soil and water (Jeppesen, 2015). Similarly, when these toxic chemical fertilizers runoff into bodies of water, the high nutrient concentration causes high weed and algae growth, rendering the water unsafe to drink (Fertiliser Association). As mentioned above, in the last 150 years, over half the world’s topsoil has been lost. To put it into perspective, “We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming” (Arsenault, 2014). Technical solutions to the issue of highly concentrated nutrients flowing into water or toxifying the topsoil exist, such as installing buffers and drainage water management systems. Buffers are dense brush, trees, and grass around farming areas grown in an attempt to absorb or filter out the high concentration of nutrients before it reaches water sources. Drainage water management systems are technical, non-organic filtration of water flowing out of farming areas (Environment Protection Agency). However, these solutions simply reduce the effects of chemical fertilizer runoff into the water supply without addressing the root cause. The root cause is the excessive usage of chemical fertilizers for the individual interest of quickly replenishing nutrients for a specific crop without regard for the damage done to the commons of water and topsoil. According to the American Association of Plant Food Control Officials, in the United States, only 19 of the 50 states have regulations on fertilizer use (AAPFCO). Taking a look at the USDA’s list of top ten states in terms of agricultural production, only four of those states have fertilizer regulations (USDA). It seems that although there have been some attempts at legislation regulating the usage of chemical fertilizers, the legislation is not widespread rendering it very ineffective. As Hardin mentioned, the pure use of technical solutions or government legislation without a shift in human belief and values will be useless.To solve the issue of topsoil and water pollution due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers, education, regulation, and incentives must be implemented. Education works towards Hardin’s requirement for Recognition of Necessity where individuals must recognize the importance of the resource at hand and the risk of depletion. Only with the recognition of necessity will the other steps work. As discussed above, there is very limited regulation of fertilizer usage throughout the United States. Regulation that provide limits to the density of nutrients that can be in chemical fertilizers and amounts that can be used in a certain time period would be the first step in government regulation. In addition to these government regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency should perform regular checks on the farms that fall under these regulations to ensure they are abiding by the laws. Finally, there should be the appropriate incentives and taxes for organic and chemical fertilizers, further pushing farmers to move to the organic option. According to several landscaping companies, the cost of organic fertilizer consistently ranges to be 15-20% more expensive than an equivalent amount of chemical fertilizer. Organic fertilizers should be provided with appropriate subsidies to incentivize farmers to use it. On the other hand, chemical fertilizers should come with heavier taxes, citing government expenses to clean up pollutants caused by it.Topsoil depletion and water pollution has reached a critical point where at this rate, the world’s topsoil may not last more than 60 years (Arsenault, 2014). Though there are other causes to topsoil depletion such as erosion and runoff waste from factories contributing to water pollution, the excessive use of chemical fertilizers is one source of pollution that causes damage to both topsoil and water supply. As Hardin describes, the self-interested rational man will seek to only maximize his gain without regard for the effect on the commons. In this case, the rational man chooses to use chemical fertilizers due to its relatively cheaper cost compared to organic fertilizer, its effectiveness in replenishing the needed nutrients at an appropriate ratio, and the speed at which it can be absorbed. The rational man does not take into consideration the effect of toxifying the topsoil and runoff from the fields into water sources since his only interest is to maximize his gain. The existing forms of technical solutions filter out damaging chemicals after they are already introduced into the environment and there are very few strict guidelines on the usage of chemical fertilizers. The only effective solution to reduce excessive usage of chemical fertilizers to provide a combination of education of its harms, regulation of its usage, and incentives for its alternatives. Although existing technical solutions may slow the damage being done by chemical fertilizers, the only way to solve the issue is by treating the cause instead of masking the symptom.