Futurama — A Can of Old Fish

The gang heads to get some pizza and Fry wants his friends to experience anchovies, a type of small, salted fish. It turns out that these small fish were overfished and the population collapsed. Zoidberg even mentions how sorry he was that his people kept consuming them because they didn’t realize they were a common resource, subject to the tragedy of the commons.

Fry is incredibly rich, and wishes he could bring them back. He at first notes that even incredibly wealthy people aren’t able to purchase everything. At an auction, he finds that there is exactly one can left in the known universe and decides to bid all of his money for the “can of old fish”

While we normally wouldn’t pass judgement on someone’s preferences, it’s hard not to believe that this could a good example of a winner’s curse. Fry’s willingness to pay for the can of fish may not be $50 million, but the utility from winning the auction could be worth that.

Thanks to Brian Lynch for the clip suggestion!

Adam Ruins Everything — Overfishing

 

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Adam covers the topic of overfishing and how it forces restaurants to market less popular fish as select or premium brands. Adam’s dad¬†(an actual marine biologist) joins the scene to discuss overfishing.

 

TedEd — What is the tragedy of the commons

 

Here’s a great opening video for teaching common resources and the tragedy of the commons. This version of the video actually does a great job explaining the math of the overfishing problem and how you need to have enough reproductive pairs in order to maintain the optimal level of the stock. This video could be used a pre-lesson video to introduce the topic.

Futurama — Fishful of Dollars

We can see economic concepts throughout the episode when Fish learns that he is rich because of a small savings account he opened 1000 years ago. Thanks to interest rates, his money has grown to billions. When Fish and his friends try to order a pizza, he finds out that anchovies no longer exist because of overfishing when humans arrived on the planet.¬†Zoidberg notes that his people killed the anchovies because they always believed one more wouldn’t have an impact.

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