Is Private Property Anti-Environment?
Has it ever occurred to you that the whole concept of private property might be innately harmful to the natural environment? While I’ve always recognized that indigenous cultures viewed the land as a blessing to all, not as something belonging to individuals, I never really made that concept personal until now.
Now, in the context of the U.S. mortgage meltdown, the context of protections for Alaskan wildlife and how they affect Inuit culture, the context of how actions on one side of the globe (i.e., industrial pollution and greenhouse gas emissions) are affecting the lives of people on the other side, I have to wonder if the idea of personally-owned land is destructive to the environment and, ultimately, to all of us.
Maybe that sounds like a wildly socialist proposal, but look at it this way: if no one individual or company had the right to extract coal or oil or uranium from the ground, and to build industrial facilities to process those natural resources for fuel for which the rest of us had to pay, would we possibly not be in the situation we’re now in regarding dwindling resources, high fuel prices and climate change? If we could make the decisions about resource extraction and consumption collectively, rather than corporately, would circumstances look more promising today?
I expect many might consider my musings naive, but look at the situation we’re in today: are the decisions of large private property owners (i.e., corporations) really in the best interests of all of us anymore? If “cheap” fuel (soon to be a memory, I believe) is granted a higher priority than basic grains for the world’s hungry (think corn-based ethanol), or a preference over the long-term impact on the planet (think abundant but dirty coal and oil sands), when do the rest of us have an opportunity to cry, “Enough!”?
The collective benefits of the commons, I believe, have reached an all-time low these days, and the results aren’t pretty for most of us. Maybe it’s time to return to a more nature-based, socially beneficial system that helps many a little, more than a few a lot.