Re: Polemics for environmentalism

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 12:30:38 MST

On Sunday, January 23, 2000 7:14 AM Greg Burch wrote:
> > No doubt, but we have little control over people's attitudes as a matter
> > public policy. Yes, the HK gov't has tried for years to convince people
> > that keeping the city clean would be better for everyone, but...
> This may be because those exhortations "fall on deaf ears" in the sense
> they don't call on basic values and memes in the majority culture.

I agree here and it should be noted that laws which go against the cultural
grain often do not work, e.g., Prohibition in the US. Even so, such laws
can have an impact, often a negative one. To stick to the same example,
lots of people were jailed or killed during Prohibition.

> and crucially important in the Anglo-American world, pollution ultimately
> runs up against the private rights of individuals which begin to exert a
> reforming pressure through the tort system.

This is true. It should be noted here that the tort system in the US and
Britain was reformed late in the 19th century to circumvent individual
property rights, specifically by limiting class action law suits against
polluters. The ostensible reason for this was that industrial development
was believed to be more important than individual rights. If this reform
(or deform:) had not happened, we probably wouldn't be discussing this
matter now.


Daniel Ust

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