Student or Learner
1. Do these "as many cattle" and "as many crops" have the implied "as they could" from the previous sentence? I mean, it's normally "as many A as B", so B here is omitted.
2. By the same token, "as much timber" and "as much toxic waste" would have the same context as 1. As for "get away with", is it related to both "as much timber" and "as much toxic waste" or ""as much toxic waste" only? It's kind of confusing.
2-5p)It was once in the best economic interests of fishermen to catch all the fish they could from the oceans. Likewise, herdsmen and farmers tried to graze as many cattle and to plant as many crops. In the case of loggers and manufacturers, they wanted to cut down as much timber and dump as much toxic waste as they could get away with. Yet when individuals act independently to maximize profit, they ultimately lose all because every resource is limited and at some point no longer renewable. Then the yield for the individual as well as for society diminishes and may even vanish. This case is called a social trap.
The reasonable assumption would be that "as much as they could get away with" applies to both products mentioned.