Saturday, April 05, 2008

Walter Block on Free Market Environmentalism

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Also of relevance:

On the Ivory Trade



Related fragmemts from discussion:

From Samizdata's group blog

Daniel Hannan, writing on his Telegraph blog, gives a good example of how the free market is more environmentally-friendly than state ownership:

Kenya banned the killing of elephants in 1979, effectively nationalising its herd. At around the same time, Rhodesia (as it still was) made elephants the property of those whose land they were on. The result? Thirty years on, Kenyan elephants have been all but wiped out, while Zimbabwe’s are as numerous as ever.


People say that the market promotes selfishness, but it turns out that it is when things are owned collectively that greed thrives.


From Matt Ridley's
The Origins of Virtue


Leviathan [political authority] creates tragedies of the commons where none were before. Consider the case of wildlife in Africa. All across the continent countries nationalised their game during colonial regimes and after independence in the 1960s and 1970, arguing that it was the only way to prevent ‘poachers’ wiping out this commonly held resource. The result was that peasants now faced competition and damage from government owned elephants and buffalo, and had no longer any incentive to look after the animals as a source of either meat or revenue. ‘The African farmer’s enmity towards elephants is as visceral as Western mawkishness is passionate,’ said the head of the Kenya Wildlife Service. The decline of African elephants, rhinos and other animals is a tragedy of the commons created by nationalisation. This is proved by the fact that it has been spectacularly reversed wherever title to wildlife has been re-privatised to communities, such as the Campfire programme of Zimbabwe in which sport hunters bid to buy rights to kill game from committees of villagers. The villagers rapidly change their attitudes to the now-valuable game animals on their land. The acreage of private land devoted to wildlife has increased from 17,000 to 30,000 square kilometres since Zimbabwe granted title over wildlife to landowners.


Some private game and nature reserves in South Africa.

In the course of discussion of Walter Block's videos, and the examples of private nature reserves in South Africa someone mentioned, "30% of elephants no longer have tusks and thanks to this no body wants to hunt them." I thought that this was interesting: Maybe long tusks is genetic, and so, if long tusked elephants are shot, preventing them from breeding and reproducing, thus breeding out long tusks. Whatever, someone else replied,

A similar phenomon was observed in Pennsylvania some years back. Pennsylvania has a very large deer population and deer hunting is very popular - upwards of a million licenses used to be issued annually. But the hunters went for "trophy" bucks with huge antler racks. Such bucks apparently have become much less common than they used to be, suggesting a reduction in the gene pool of the "large rack" genes.


I asked, "Hmmmm, if the licenses were issued by a private company, I wonder what would have been different?" And my friend responded,

I never thought of that, but I guess they could issue a special, more costly, license which would be required to shoot a deer with more that a prescribed number of "points". This would be perfectly feasible because as it is the season is divided into a 12-day "buck season" (Sundays being excluded) and a two day "doe" season. There is a minimum antler requirement in the buck season and a complimentary maximal antler requirment in the "doe" season - i.e. the criterion is not the gender of the deer. About as many deer are normally taken in the doe season as in the buck season.

But, it would be quite possible to manage hunting so that the "trophy" deer were better preserved. Usual arguments might suggest that private interests would be more desirous than government interests of such preservation.


I did point point out,

There would still be a problem of over hunting the deer, though, and that results from the fact that whilst a company could sell fewer licenses, if anybody could go into business selling licenses, the benefits would be undermined. That is why exclusive control of the land is required. Say, nobody is allowed to hunt deer in that area without a license issued by company X.


Apart from that, there is a proposal for private management of deer hunting.

1 Comments:

Blogger fingolfin said...

SUPERB article.

8:31 PM  

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