A Strong Case for Free Market Environmentalism

Posted by: on Jul 3, 2017 | No Comments

A Strong Case for Free Market Environmentalism

There is perhaps one opinion poll that is bound to be answered with an emphatic ‘No’ anywhere in the world and that is:

Are we leaving a better planet for our children?

Dangers to our Environment

Global Warming and Climate Change are two major examples of how we have failed the future generations in a big way. The life-threatening levels of pollution in some developing countries, the issue of depleting natural resources and loss of biodiversity are just few of the many pressing problems that we face today.

Even animals and birds are facing the adverse consequences of this manmade problem that’s staring us right in our face. Did you know, America’s national bird and animal, the bald Eagle, almost went extinct in the 1960s? There were only 487 nesting pairs remaining in 1963, as per the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The fact is that there is no magic wand available to us today that can solve the decades of neglect and damage to our environment. Having said that, it is time to embark on this journey towards course correction and make significant alterations to the status quo.

A Call for Environmentalism 2.0

Free-market environmentalism seems to be the clarion call coming from proponents of free markets in this battle against environmental neglect. And rightly so! There are a lot of decentralized tools available today such as incentives and even privatization that can handle this issue far better than the centralized tools of excessive regulation, subsidies and bureaucracy. Here’s an example:

Putting an End to the Water Wars

The Prior Appropriation Law also known as “first in time, first in right” is a perfect example of how bureaucracy failed us completely in protecting the environment. The many farmers that settled in Diamond Valley in the late 1950s were the beneficiaries of the state’s opulence in awarding water rights based on the appropriation law. It was observed that around 9.8 billion gallons of water could be safely withdrawn from the aquifers each year so as to ensure the water levels don’t recede and the basin doesn’t go dry. By 1964, the state had already allocated nearly three times this amount and the present situation is that around 2015 the water levels have gone down by 100 feet, thereby triggering water wars, something that is a clear outcome of bureaucratic failure.

Incentivize Environmental Protection

In the name of protecting the environment, the government often curtails and even prohibits the construction of property along seashores and other such areas. A free market approach to this would be to place the resources in the hands of private property owners and incentivize them in the process. This would give rise to “enviropreneurs”, people who would have an obvious stake and, more importantly, a genuine interest in safeguarding their properties along such otherwise protected areas. They must be allowed to explore innovative ways in tackling pressing environmental problems.

Enforcing Accountability

There is a serious need to revisit archaic laws and improve them to ensure better accountability and protection of the environment. For instance, introducing insurance in potentially hazardous environment areas such as waste dump will improve compliance to a great degree.

This ability to have a holistic and farsighted approach to address environmental concerns is always lacking in governmental regulations. The current deplorable state of the environment is a telling statement that we need to look beyond the present situation and explore innovative solutions that can come about if free market environmentalism gets the push it deserves.

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