Own the whales

Hubert’s had a great idea – it will be the first in a series of libertarian environmentalist direct-actions. Now, there’s a school of thought – offensive to many on the left – that environmental exploitation happens precisely because a resource is held in common, rather than owned by someone (who therefore has an interest in using it wisely). Wasn’t resource mismanagement the original inspiration for the tragedy of the commons idiom, after all? So if everything, everywhere – every rare species, every piece of rainforest, etc – is owned by someone, they might be protected better.

So here’s the plan; if the Japanese Whaling Ships can go into international waters and harpoon whales – essentially saying “This one is mine” and killing it – what’s to stop me going and tagging a whale with my name and mobile number, attaching a GPS – essentially saying “This one is mine” – and letting it go free? Then when the Japanese Whalers come across a whale they have to check if it is unowned, or whether they need my permission to take it and kill it. “What happens when they kill it anyway?” I asked Hubert. “Simple”, he said, “I sue them.”

“And”, he continued, “the great thing about this strategy is that it is very empowering for the individual. You don’t have to wait for governments to pass environmental legislation, you just get out there and see what the court system decides.”

4 replies on “Own the whales”

Moreover, it would give the whalers an incentive to manage whale populations rather than to kill as many whales as they can while they are still about.

Come to think of it, that would be an even greater step.

It’s actually far easier; you only need a boat to get there.

And it’s less work than actually killing the beast.

Property rights are the best thing yet invented to regulate the use of a resource. Imagine you could, e.g. own a wild elephant. If it has breakfast in some African farmer’s field, he could ask you for compensation. That’s a hell of lot more interesting for him than hunting the elephant. As a matter of fact, that is more or less what certain charities are already doing.

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