Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New Environmentalism

In response to Michael DeAlessi's article:

"Conservation Through Private Initiative: Harnessing American Ingenuity to Preserve Our Nation's Resources"

I loved this article!

I haven't discussed it yet in my class with the knowlegable and expressive members yet, but I felt it was a perfect example of what a blog should be written on.

Growing up somewhat fearful of private ownership of things like land and open spaces, it's been a journey for me to come around to the level-headed thinking that suggests privatization may actually do MORE for the land than would the socialization of 'public lands' would.

DeAlessi wrote, “On public lands, land-use decisions inevitably wind up in the court of politics, where rhetoric and extremism trump substance and tradeoffs.”

It's like when I was a kid, when a bundle of toys were given to 'us' (my two brothers and me), we invariably fought over who got to play with what and when. When things were specifically designated to one of us (or to another), it was crystal clear amongst us who was allowed to play with what and when, and it gave us a sort of independence in determining what we'd share and with whom. As well, when we played with something that wasn't ours, we knew EXACTLY why we were in trouble or that we were doing something that could be construed as wrong.

When the 'bundles' were given to 'us,' we would feel like we had a right to whatever IT was and when someone else was using it, even though I wasn't, I'd feel like I was being wronged. The thing is, though, that all of 'us' thought the same way!

DeAlessi also writes that in “…the marketplace, where by definition voluntary trade makes everyone involved better off, politics is a zero-sum game, where gains to one group are made at the expense of another.”

What would happen regarding the toy or bundle, is that one person would try to take the toy or bundle and if he would fail, then he would go to mom and dad (government) to settle the dispute. I, being the oldest, rarely got his way because I was always out-whined.

I now see bickering over 'public resources' as whining and it bothers me to have to compete with, interact with, or even hear whining!

I also learned of the Audobon Society and how they fight so hard to preserve the oil reserves in ANWR, yet have access to reserves and DRILL on land that they (members of the group) own!

Suspect, I tell ya!

Hypocracy, I tell ya!

Of course, had there been a clear case of property rights of the toy/bundle, then the answer would be simple... "it's his, you are going to have to ask nicely to play with it, so stop crying!" Then, it would still be up to the person who owned the item.

The tragedy of the commons (Garret Hardin):
“ruin is the destination toward which all men rush.”

I may have wound up a huge whiner, had whining actually been the determining element of dispute-resolution.

Michael DeAlessi also wrote:

“Doing more with less is one of the most important aspects of conservation, and is also one of the prime directives of the profit motive.”

I believe this truly!

“No one questions the impetus for a cleaner, healthier, species-rich environment. How we get there, however, is another question.” (DeAlessi)

Perhaps the way to get there is through privatization of resources. Examples of the Alaska fisheries and Washington oysteries are certainly compelling. Not to mention, attaching a specific value to things that actually are considered harmful, such as trash/refuse, may also be a means to better conservation. DeAlessi gave the axample that in some circumstances, “pay as you throw” programs garnered as much as a 17% reduction in total waste.

Perhaps the way that doesn't lead to a better, cleaner environment is exactly what we're doing, allowing government to act as mom and day over 'bundles' of resources that we all feel like we have a right to and thus whine as a means to determine management over said resources.

It, in some wierd place in our souls, may seem like a good thing to allow public access to everything, but there comes the unavoidable question of what harm are we doing, how do we fix it, and how do we even measure the effects of harm or improvement for that matter?

“In many cases, success has been measured by permits issued or violations cited rather than by specific, targeted improvement in environmental quality.”

Sounds like my parents would have measured their successes by how many spankings or groundings they dished out, or how successful they were at specific conflict resolutions as opposed to whether or not they contributed to the world a good son... or 3 good sons, accountable for their own actions, respectful of others' property and ambitious to work for what they want.

So, my hat off to...

‘New Environmentalism’

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