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Logo Logo Nick Hodges

Environmentalism and Property Rights

/ 2 min read

I’m not really an environmentalist in the more political sense of the word, but I am definitely a conservationist. The Venn diagram between the two is not insignificant, but they certainly aren’t the same. I certainly believe that we should wisely use our resources, and by wisely, I mean take advantage of them with as few negative externalities as possible. Of course, one of the things I want to conserve is the beauty of our world, and I recognize the tension that it creates between people.

Over the years, the environmentalist movement has spent a lot of money trying to change hearts and minds as well as policy. Understandable.

But I’d take a different tack with that money. If I were in charge of all the money in the world of conservationism/environmentalism, I’d stop all the lobbying, advertising, and convincing, and I’d just quietly buy up all the land I could in the most strategic places that I could, and let it lie fallow.

If, for instance, you don’t want the pristine lands of South Dakota to be mined or otherwise ruined, or don’t want coastal areas developed, just buy the land. Own it, and you can do what you want with it. Buy up timber land, ocean front property, and farmland. Property rights are a powerful thing. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of Brazilian rain forest could be had for a song.

I’ve never seen this approach taken, though I confess I can’t say for sure that it hasn’t been done. If one were forward looking, one could head off at the pass a lot of future things that the movement doesn’t like.