How I Became a Free-Market Environmentalist in France

By Max Falque.

The managing director of ICREI, the International Center for Research on Environmental Issues, Max Falque is based in Aix-en-Provence, France. He tells the story of how he changed from a French bureaucrat to a proponent of environmental protection using private property and markets.  From his essay, “Why Did I Become a Free-Market Environmentalist?” in I Chose Liberty, edited by Walter Block.

Based on my family background, I should still worship central government and “service public,” like the great majority of French. My family shared two traditions: on my father’s side, conservative provincial and provençal bourgeoisie engaged in farming a family estate since the 16th century, and on my mother’s side, the value of the liberal, intellectual, Catholic beliefs. But everybody agreed about the sanctity of bureaucracy. Studying law at the Montpellier University in the 50s could not introduce me to classic liberal thinking, since the clear distinction between civil and administrative law was (and still is) a basic fact. In economics classes, references to Keynes and Samuelson left no room for unknown Austrian economics. The Communist party used to get nearly 30 percent at the general elections, and most “intellectuals” were at least fellow travelers or useful idiots, if not true believers.

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The concept of free market environmentalism (FME) came as a revelation to me when meeting R.J. Smith at a Lincoln Institute conference at Harvard in July 1983. R.J., in a plenary session, briefly explained that land could be best managed by property rights and market instruments. Ann Louise Strong, as chair of the panel, dryly answered that this was outdated and inappropriate thinking. I felt sorry for R.J. and I invited him to discuss the issue at a neighboring pub. It was quite a fascinating evening and, back in France, R.J. sent me his recently published article, “Privatizing the Environment” (Policy Review, 1982). I was then introduced progressively to the FME literature and scholars. Continue reading “How I Became a Free-Market Environmentalist in France”

Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

By Wallace Kaufman

This is Part III of a three-part article. Part I is here; Part II is here.

The anti-hunters, of course, have yet to put significant money in play. More wildlife and wildlife habitat have been preserved and restored by hunters than by anti-hunting environmentalists. (Environmentalists tend to focus on nearly extinct species and on unusual specimens—elephants, rhinos, hippos, grizzlies, the albinos, and the big predators at the top of the food chain.)

Environmentalists concentrate on persuading governments to spend money to preserve and expand habitat and control poaching. Non-profit conservancies and land trusts, however, have made important acquisitions and are expanding their efforts. One of the oldest conservancies, the Nature Conservancy, has by itself preserved over 100 million acres and has over 1 million contributing members.

The alternatives to hunting are multiplying rapidly along with their enthusiasts and the funds they provide. I have hunted with a gun, but digital photography has radically reduced the cost of shooting with a camera. I go hunting every day without a license. I shoot with my camera. That requires as much, or more knowledge and skill than bow or gun hunting. The birds, deer, bear, elk, and other wildlife don’t know I’ve shot them, and I can shoot the same ones as many times as I like. Other photographers can continue to shoot them and amateur naturalists to watch them. Continue reading “Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?”

Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses

By Wallace Kaufman

This is the second part of a three-part article. For Part I see Hunters and Their Money Are Fading. For Part III, see Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

How much hunters cherish killing is demonstrated by their own boasts of how much they spend on the pleasure. Pleasure is the operative word since I’ve heard no claims of charitable expenses in the pursuit of duty. The fact that trophy hunters and many others can’t convincingly explain why they spend so much and take so much pleasure in killing innocent animals does not suggest that they are bad or cruel or inhumane, only that the behavior has roots in the evolution of predators and humans in particular. Those who rationalize killing wildlife as an economic and humane means of preservation have begun to hide that deeper truth of human nature in socially acceptable language.

Peter Flack, a South African hunter and well-reasoned defender of trophy and sport hunting, nevertheless feels obliged to cover up. “The fastest growing segment of hunters in North America, which has some 13.4 million hunters growing at 3.4 percent per annum, are young women and urban men in their late twenties and early thirties like Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, who want to take responsibility for the protein their families eat.”[1] It’s not the protein they are after but a fictional avatar.

Continue reading “Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses”

Hunters and Their Money Are Fading

By Wallace Kaufman

This is Part I of a three-part article. For Part II, see Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses. For Part III, see Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

Many or most readers will soon strongly, even angrily, disagree with the conclusions of this essay, so let’s begin where we almost certainly agree. Hunters and their organizations have been heroes of wildlife habitat preservation and creation and of wildlife populations saved and restored. With some obvious exceptions, hunters have every right to think of themselves as environmentalists, but not “those environmentalists.”

Hunters plant thousands of acres in wildlife crops. Hunters paying their license fees have supported habitat protection with hundreds of millions of dollars. Long before the environmental movement began, hunters in Ducks Unlimited were doing work that saved more than six million acres of wetlands. Taxes on guns and ammo, along with license fees, now pay 60 percent of the budgets of state wildlife agencies. In Idaho alone, hunting permits contribute almost a half billion dollars to environmental programs. That is not the future. The social, environmental and economic services of hunting are already being replaced.

Three strong trends diminish the importance of hunting as a significant or desirable environmental strategy. Those trends are:

Continue reading “Hunters and Their Money Are Fading”

The War against Poachers

Anti-poaching action leads to multiple deaths of rangers and poachers alike.

The International Ranger Federation reports that 269 rangers were killed across Africa between 2012 and 2018, the majority of them by poachers….

[R]esearch on organized crime estimates that between 150 and 200 poachers were killed in the Kruger National Park alone [between 2010 and 2015]. In neighboring Botswana, anti-poaching action has reportedly resulted in dozens of deaths, and the country’s controversial “shoot to kill” policy—which gives rangers powers to shoot poachers dead on sight—has drawn allegations of abuse.

From Cathleen O’Grady in the Atlantic.

And more:

South Africa’s most recent rhino-poaching crisis came out of the blue. In 2007, the country lost just 13 rhinos to poaching; the next year, that number jumped to 83, kicking off a nightmarish escalation. Losses peaked at 1,215 in 2014, and deaths are still high: 2018, with 769 rhinos killed, was the first year that losses had dipped under 1,000 since 2013. South Africa is home to 93 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 39 percent of the remaining 5,000 critically endangered black rhinos, making South Africa’s rhino crisis a global rhino crisis.

We’ve Just Had the Best Decade in History

We are using less energy. We are using less land. Forests and wildlife are on the upswing.

 

Matt Ridley writes:

Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 percent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 percent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.

And here is the environmental good news: We are using less stuff:

The quantity of all resources consumed per person in Britain (domestic extraction of biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, plus imports minus exports) fell by a third between 2000 and 2017, from 13.7 tons to 9.4 tons. That’s a faster decline than the increase in the number of people, so it means fewer resources consumed overall.

Continue reading

We are using less energy:

John Constable of the Global Warming Policy Forum points out that although the UK’s economy has almost trebled in size since 1970, and our population is up by 20 percent, total primary inland energy consumption has actually fallen by almost 10 percent.

We are using less land:

In 2012, Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and his colleagues argued that, thanks to modern technology, we use 65 percent less land to produce a given quantity of food compared with 50 years ago. By 2050, it’s estimated that an area the size of India will have been released from the plough and the cow.

Forests and wild life are on the upswing:

In 2006 Ausubel worked out that no reasonably wealthy country had a falling stock of forest, in terms of both tree density and acreage. Large animals are returning in abundance in rich countries; populations of wolves, deer, beavers, lynx, seals, sea eagles and bald eagles are all increasing; and now even tiger numbers are slowly climbing.

Lessons:

A modern irony is that many green policies advocated now would actually reverse the trend towards using less stuff.