Impact of politics on the environment

Something to consider on the practical effects of political arrangements on the landscape.
And something for fruitloop, who’s looking for an [url= Forum.[/url]

One of the podcasts I continue to listen to, despite how much the host can piss me off, is Econtalk. This week it deals with the tragedy of the commons.

The host and guest discuss the various ways that people avoid overusing resources that are held in common–fisheries, roads, rivers and the air–through the use of norms, cooperative ventures such as incorporating a river, the common law, and top-down command-and-control regulation to reduce air and water pollution.

A few notes from the website:

I went looking for this African ranch, and didn’t find it. I expect that it looks something like this place.

And here’s the border described in the pocast.
Egypt, Gaza, and Israel.

And a third…
Haiti & the Dominican Republic, suggested by Jared Diamond’s Collapse.

So capitalism and property rights are good for the environment and the most developed nations have the best environmental records? Really? Color me absolutely shocked…

Note, that Gaza would have been the same as Egypt but that area was occupied by and farmed by Israelis. That also would make a difference in the greenness level.

Property rights is one of institutions discussed to head of tragedies of the commons. But only one.

But in my view, it is the KEY variable. Overfishing? Not if the banks were owned by someone who had the right and will to defend them. Let’s face it the Canadian coast guard can do shit all about enforcing fishing along its own coastline. How can they stop the “civic-minded” Taiwanese businessman with his all Filipino or Indonesian crew from doing a factory harvest of anything and everything including the seabottom floor? Eventually, someone is going to have to declare the Grand Banks the property of x, y and z… but that would have to occur at the UN, this all-precious institute that governs international law… and there, not Canada, but Ghana will decide what happens and when and only after it has eight of its staff appointed to positions in NY to head up forestry while another 16 are given to Nigeria to work in the Oil sector and 13 positions go to Burkina Faso for health and human services to reward Senegal with five positions at the World Bank to thank it for its support and also deliver another two to three extra positions to reward Guinea for standing by Senegal in its confrontation with Mauritania over whether the president for life can be known as Supreme Chief Extraordinaire as they desired or only Supreme Chief Supremely with Attributes of Extraordinaire.

Local governments can pay farmers to continue to farm their land, and buy the development rights. Buying development rights is a costly way to protect farms. In Bucks County, PA, a few civic-minded citizens have bought development rights to farmland and donated this land to the local government for protection.

Zoning laws also need to be strictly enforced to prevent excessive development from spilling over into specific areas.

What is excessive development?

One that is not sustainable in my view. Sustainable development should balance meeting population needs with the carrying capacity of the natural landscape and existing/surrounding infrastructure.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe development is needed in many instances to provide services and economic benefits to a community. Development can provide jobs for thousands of people. But development that doesn’t make sense, like when it far outpaces population growth or demand, while stretching the resources of the natural environment, should be checked.

I live in Pennsylvania now, and the state has the fifth highest rate of open space loss despite having one of the lowest population growth rates. Acres of farmland are being paved over with concrete strip malls in sparse, lowly populated areas despite very little population growth.