Environmentalism in a Free society, WAS: Re: The Education Function

Michael Lorrey (mike@lorrey.com)
Sun, 13 Dec 1998 14:12:57 -0500

Joe E. Dees wrote:

> Date sent: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 22:01:42 +0000
> From: Emmanuel Charpentier <manu@cybercable.fr>
> To: extropians@extropy.com
> Subject: Re: The Education Function
> Send reply to: extropians@extropy.com
> > Terry Donaghe wrote:
> > >
> > > I further posit that there are no services "inappropriate or
> > > impossible" for the private market to provide. Please list examples.
> >
> > I think the difference capitalism/socialism is about
> > competition/cooperation. And there might be times when nationwide
> > cooperation is necessary. War time? Fight against disease? Talks with
> > other groups of people?
> >
> > So, I go for a government that would primarily have two
> > responsibilities: defense and diplomacy. Or do you think enterprises
> > could manage that too???
> >
> What about as an instrument for preserving our environment (which
> the private sector has shamelessly trashed), a global problem not
> amenable to individual or corporate solutions, and guaranteeing
> basic human righrs for its citizens (which other citizens, and
> corporations, are, sadly, only too willing to abrogate, violate and/or
> ignore)?

Whenever the environment is damaged, it is as a result of ignorance. While some individuals may willfully ignore information on their environment, it is because they find insufficient impact of their behavior on their products market value. Sufficient knowledge and communication of that knowledge to the market is effective in counteracting the abuses that do occur. Corporations under the current mercatilist/socialist system carry such power to supress information only because the government lets them. In a system where civil law is the means of adjudicating all legal impacts, corporations have no standing as individual parties (whereas under the current system they are considered to be virtual citizens), so the officers and stockholders are individually liable. Operating in this manner would ensure that the stockholders take steps to ensure that the actions of its officers are not placing them in a position of liability.

Additionally, since almost all environmental damages are not confined to a particular plot of private land, since damage in one area has impact on another that is not likely owned by the same person, effective pursuit of civil remedies to adverse environmental impacts is perfectly fine. The US system of environmental protection relies much more on the private legal actions of groups against corporations than on government agencies taking action. Where large environmental impacts still occur, it is almost always with the blessing of the government.

Few people know it, but it is extremely easy to destroy wetlands here in the US, because all wetlands are under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers. In order to drain or fill some wetlands, all you have to do is fill out the appropriate paperwork with the Corps office for your district, and wait for approval, which is almost always given, except in the Northeast district, which is getting more protective these days. Once you have Corps approval, all other permtting bodies are typically required to defer to the Corps approval on the issue of the wetlands.

Much more protection of land occurs as a result of Private Land Trusts getting easments from landowners, or as outright donations of land to the trust.

On the other side of the fence, some environmental groups are going overboard in their zeal. For example, up here in New Hampshire and Vermont, the local US Forest service office has recently closed the White Mountain National Forest and the Green Mountain National Forest to all new logging contracts because a biologist claims to have found a bat in Vermont and a bat in New Hampshire in caves (neither of which is in either National Forest) which belong to a bat species native to Indiana (almost 1000 miles away) which is on the endangered species list.

To me it seems rather suspicious that in each case, only one bat was found, especially considering how adamant the Sierra Club is at turning these forests into National Parks (which would take control of the land from the local Forest Service office and put them in the hands of the Park Service, which is a Sierra Club territory).

The big turf war going on here is that the Sierra Club wants to run the Appalachian Mountain Club out of business (which will happen if the National Forests become National Parks) and absorb that membership and their assets into the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has been ramping up such takeover operations all up and down the east coast. They want to become as powerful an influence in congress as the AARP.

Mike Lorrey