The Ethics and Logistics of Environmental Regulation

And the danger of echoing politically sponsored percentages.

In the wake of the controversy over the USFG’s recent move to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, strong feelings of anger and confusion have been present for many.

I myself believe that Anthropogenic Climate Change Is Real.

But I tend to see people trusting their politicians, and succumbing to the game of modern politics. A few statistics are thrown, graphs get posted on Facebook, people get emotional, slogans are made, etc….

Look.

We have completely strayed from the core goal of protecting the natural world. We have made it political. We have trusted our cronies to protect the environment. They have thrived on our support. They promise protection. And they make an extremely dangerous assumption, which man has been making since the development of civilization:

“I can control nature.”

We give them our full trust with this assumption. We give them the authority to properly predict the course of planet earth. We’ll let them look through the statistics, and choose which ones suit their goals best. And then we’ll echo them all through the march. We must take the personal responsibility to preserve. We must find out for ourselves what can be done. Exclusively rallying behind policy, as a means of Natural Preservation, is falling into a trap.

Nonetheless,

Anthropogenic Climate Change Is Real.

Let’s find out if The State is the answer.

Environmental Regulations: current “solutions” to the most common (and complicated) example of tragedy of the commons. Lots of moving parts, lots of ethics, lots of externalities…….

Let’s go back to England, and look at the simplest form of tragedy of the commons.

Farmers live in a circle, and all of them own cows.

The cows graze in the commons: a field — which is not owned by any one person, but is used by a mass of people in order to maximize one’s utility.

It is in each farmer’s best interest to use the field to his advantage, which may include buying more cows to graze on the commons.

If one farmer chooses to bring forty cows to the commons, the tragedy will ensue: the grass is eaten up, and now none of the other farmers have a grazing area for their cows. The loss is shared.

So what’s the solution?

On this small of a scale, a private solution is easy. Each farmer, in his or her own self interest, will voluntarily agree to constructs which protect the commons. None of these farmers want a tragedy of the commons, and an agreed upon amount of cows-per-farmer will benefit everyone — even the environment.

Sometimes it’s more complicated, and state solutions will ensue.

In the example of the fishing industry, no one owns fish stocks, so when a boat chooses to take in more fish than is his allotted share, everyone fishing for the same species shares the cost.

Fifteen years ago, America’s pacific ground fishery collapsed. The response? An amendment in 2007 to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act mandated that by 2011 every federally managed fishery had to have a scientifically determined, legally enforced annual catch limit. Fisheries allowed each boat a share of the limit. The idea, is that if you are allowed a portion of the fish stocks, you would like to ensure that the population of that stock will grow.

The conservation managed to give fishermen a business incentive to fish sustainably. It is in their best interest to stay within their catch limit, for it increases utility. When the industry collectively understood that fishing sustainably would maximize utility in the long run and help preserve an industry they had invested their life in, fishing sustainably became the first priority.

Let’s remember that the ocean is a massive commons. Nobody owns it, but millions use it as a means of utility. But the same rules apply to this situation as the previous one.

It is in each and every fisherman’s best interest to abide by their quota — but only if everyone else does, too. So how do we ensure that everyone else will?

We sure could use force. We could easily fine fisheries who went over the limit, and threaten incarceration or violence against them if they did not comply.

Do we need to? 
Maybe not.

Remember, the primary solution to overfishing was not force. It was organization. It was a scientifically agreed upon quota, which all fisheries were able to agree upon in their own self interest.

Tragedy of the commons on a large scale has all sorts of solutions.

The most important thing to remember is that it is in everyone’s best interest to abide by the rules of the commons.

Sometimes the incentives are misaligned, but this can be corrected by accountability. Today’s connectivity allows us to expose a behavior that is destructive to others and the environment. With this enhanced power of choice as a consumer — along with the increasingly powerful connectivity of unions, boycotts, and movements — this type of behavior will successfully correct itself without force.

Peaceful organization and consensus is the most ethical, and likely the most efficient way to solve tragedies of the commons.

When we allow Politicians to monopolize environmental preservation, we further distance ourselves from our humanity. Our archetype of animal.

Devoting oneself to the preservation of the natural world should not be considered a political position. It should be considered a human decision.

A peaceful movement for understanding and consciousness.

Related:

What kinds of property do libertarian socialists think should be socialized?

Are the benefits of modern society worth the costs?

Libertarian Communitarian Values and Skepticism about Western Individualism

Does the non-aggression principle apply to animals?