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Who Owns Environment Essay

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Updated: Dec 3rd, 2019


Matters of the environment have witnessed a mounting gratitude in the recent past. It is certain that the issue of property rights is the main upcoming concern about the environment. Regardless of conformity that nonexistence of precise and constantly enforced possessions rights results in the utilization of natural resources, there is still extensive divergence about lots of facets of America’s assets privileges paradigm.

The outstanding proposers of “Who Owns the Environment?” investigate plentiful hypothetical and experimental possibilities for healing these tribulations. There has been a concern to strike a balance between environmentalism and economic freedom, and how they end up in the conservation and restoration of environment (Block 1887).

Environmentalism is goal directed since it is concerned with survival and enhancement of endangered species. Economic freedom, on the other hand, concerns justifiable ownership of property from the natural world. Pigou also illustrates how externalities faced revolution to ensure sound environmental management. Several libertarians and conservatives have come up with policies to ensure appropriate management of property rights to conserve the environment.

Environmentalism and Economic Freedom

Environmentalism refers to the viewpoint that observes gains in uncontaminated innate reserves like air and water, as well as minimized extermination of species. Environmentalists claim to own the environment since they pursue everything to safeguard it.

On the other hand, those who vouch for economic freedom usually accumulate resources from the natural surroundings coupled with personal labor. It is understood that the economic freedom wing also claims to own the environment. The two parameters are inversely interrelated since amplification in one causes diminish in the other.

There is a worrying rivalry between the two parties. Furthermore, there is also a discrepancy among environmentalists since some are lukewarm while others are real (Block 1888). Human beings are part of nature, but it is unfortunate that they do not want to join nature. Real environmentalists are determined to ensure that Homo sapiens bond the natural world to ensure maximum restoration and preservation of ecology. Individuals use the planet resources greedily thus ruining it at an alarming rate.

Libertarianism theory accords each an opportunity to articulate views with no any peripheral interference. This theory has been supported by the pro-free economy, but several environmentalists have blamed it. It is not the letdown of the government to abate air contamination, but it results from market malfunction in the name of liberal enterprise.

Pigou claimed that heavy pollution occurs in the community since the offenders are not responsible for the damages. It is; therefore, realized that recompense for the harm brings the sense of responsibility, and subsequent ownership of the environment. Pay as you pollute is a slogan widely used by environmentalists to ensure ownership of the environment by the community.

Both the socialist, as well as capitalist economy, contributed to severe environmental degradation. Capitalists usually cause great harm to the community since they will go free under the laissez faire. Socialist economy, on the other hand, nips pollution troubles since it has the powers to do so. This scenario is evident in democratic nations like the United States. A key example is the dumping of 400,000 tones of perilous waste by the US defense department (Block 1889).

This was more that the waste released by five conglomerates combined. All these have led to the pollution of environment without paying for the damage. Environmentalists assert that manufactures as well as other property owners should pay for any damage caused to the public. Contrary to this, manufacturers and foundries, cannot operate in vacuum; furthermore, the complainers depend on such products for their continuity.

To strike a balance, private polluters were bearing the costs of their businesses. Consequently, they were sued to for their past transgressions and getting court commands barring them from potential inversions.

In a bid to uphold property rights, several beneficial means of evading pollution were established. These include inducement for using a cleaner expertise, as well as installation of scrubbers to reduce pollution. Another means of protecting the environment is the establishment of plants away from the populace to lessen jeopardy of health hazards.

All these were happening before 1850, but later ceased where firms were polluting without penalties up to 1070. Environmentalists blamed the government for pollution arising from private and social confines. This was due to government failed to uphold the free enterprise with a legal system (Block 1891). This environmentalist’s move usually ensures collective responsibility for the conservation of the environment.

Evolution of regulations increased when polluters were causing grave dangers to the environment. The government came up with other regulations other than paying for the pollution. It is noted that the adoption of treatable emission rights (TERS) was significant since firms are required to reduce the levels of pollution collectively (Block 1891).

Under this means, a firm may pay another to reduce further if it cannot reduce to the required levels so that they and up at required cumulative reduction levels. This ensured a system of rights to pollute, together with a structured market where these could be traded. Environmentalists have used several means to control pollution to protect private property rights. Even though, this has been impractical they have demanded a cleaner environmental law, which are enforced by jail terms.

This translates into high cost of garbage disposal and subsequent increase in the production expenditure. This affects the private property rights negatively due to increased cost. There are worries of turning back to 1820s when stringent measures were applied to the polluters. It seems impractical since everything would be considered pollutant, including exhaling CO2. Furthermore, cases will throng the courts that judges will only attend to grave ones.

It is imperative to assert that plastic and styro-foam are irritating environmentalists. The case of McDonald’s in the USSSR drew the attention of environmentalists since they were using these materials to wrap their products. These substances are unfriendly to the environment since they are non-biodegradable, non-reusable, as well as non-recyclable.

This scenario is common in the supermarkets since buyers chose between the paper and plastic bag. This leaves a big question to the populace to decide whether to pollute or conserve the environment. This is further complicated since some products come already wrapped in polythene (Block 1894). A sensible consumer will not pay an extra fee by accepting plastic bag, but would accept such materials when included in the overall cost of the product.

Externality and the Environment

More than a few environmentalists have blamed managing waste by externality owing to its meagerness. This is a scenario where A pulls off B, and B is helpless of gathering the compensations nor stop through order. This is due to the scantiness of the decree, where the government falls short to espouse the law against the infringers. This leads to the point of externalities evolution, which assumed common law for tens decades.

Great economists overlooked the demand of legal and other institutions about paying for their decisions. Furthermore, legislators also tried unsuccessfully to force the polluters to pay for their external costs (Barnett &Yandle 30). The two foremost letdowns included disrespect of the demand of exceptional concerns. Another was failing to regard and state suppositions about background organizations’ agreements.

The efforts of institutions led to the end of externalities revolution. This constituted greatly to whoever owns the environment, since the perpetrators were prompted to pay for their external costs. The issue of environment ownership is elaborated when an individual realizes the occurrence of degradation and subsequent action to restore it.

The concept of externalities provides that the government is constantly confusing economists, on the other hand it lacks control over private transactions. This leads to unintentional impacts, which are insidious. This concept came into being when escalating cost viable firm causes ascend in the effort of an existing corporation.

Furthermore, Pigou reasons that the discrepancy in cost owing to the entrance of a novel company causes deviation amid the marginal personal disposable produce and the marginal common net product of venture. These scenarios are prevalent in the society with constant call for the government to intervene.

This leads to the point of environment ownership, since the public thinks that the government is responsible for the protection of the surrounding. It is unfortunate that some administrators classified the externalities, calling some irrelevant (Barnett &Yandle 33). This means that there are some externalities, which are considered relevant. This should not apply since the result is a polluted the environment.

The concept of unfilled boxes of externalities took a paradigm shift to become laden with the justification for government intrusion. This came into being after Pigou advancing on the Marshall’s ideas to cover both the private and social net products, giving rise to Pigou (I). He was clear on his illustration claiming that the governmental interventions were necessary to resolve the mess.

On the other hand, he claimed that contraction of private firms to take care of the environment would do more harm. Pigou illustrated several negative externalities like the case of congestion in roads as well as damages to the surrounding vegetation caused by the sparks emanating from train.

Others include establishing factories next to residential places as well as keeping animals that invade other people’s property (Barnett &Yandle 36). This consideration leads to the point where every person has the responsibility to conserve the environment. Consequently, it drives us to the point of who owns the environment. Environmentalists persuade the government to enforce rules, which compel the public to adhere to the environmental standards.

It is imperative to assert that inadequate description of property rights, as well as market failures, are the causes of externalities problems (Barnett &Yandle 39). People usually assume that all property within their homesteads belong to them. This is a wrong definition of property ownership.

The government has the right to control several resources, including the ones under individual’s control. It is capable of protecting species or a natural resource it deems fit. Environmentalists; therefore, prompt the government to enforce environmental regulations since it has all the machineries to compel the public. Market failures also lead to negative externalities since traders are unaware of the wrongs they do.

Relevant externalities exist, but the systems of property rights allow the affected parties to bargain (Barnett &Yandle 43). This will ensure final retrenchment from the problem. It is not possible for many to describe public good, which the politics vouch for. The risk lies in the definition of public good, but a clear definition of relevant externalities in the most important aspect.

Property Rights and the Environment

Persons, clusters, and institutions have taken environmental policies seriously to evade the consequences of law. Free-market environmentalism (FME) is one of the many policies aimed at protecting assets rights in the ecological confines.

Supporters of FME usually espouse utilitarian, as well as well being maximization method of climate change, since they endeavor to evade the fee of alleviating the measures. It is realized that the move to conserve the environment is an uphill task to several people including the sponsors of FME. Supporters of property rights should show a sincere commitment by taking the threats of climatic change seriously the same way they consider the stringent policies.

On the other hand, there are people who value economic growth, as opposed to environmental importance to human prosperity (Adler 279). Likewise, those who fancy utilitarian for maximization of disposable individual welfare come up with different policies. Conformist politicians, liberals, and market leaning plan makers outline that nothing should be done about atmospheric alteration.

They thus resist the implementation of dogmatic controls on greenhouse gas release. This leaves the question of environment ownership if other people do not contribute to its conservation. This; therefore, prompts the conservatives and the libertarians in the United States to ratify FME policy, which is concerned with the protection of property rights.

The concept of FME entails the expansion of property rights to the environmental precincts to aid their exploitation and safeguard, consistent with personage inclinations. The concept is inconsistent with the conventional approaches to ecological protection, which depends on market malfunctions.

It aims at safeguarding the environment since failure to which may compel the property owner to pay for the damages. FME advocates wish for the extinction of markets rather than polluting the environment through market failures. Environmental protection cannot be ensured by enforcing conventions and other interventions due to market failure.

These advocates call for the extension of markets through the appreciation and fortification of private property rights in ecological resources (Adler 301). In this scenario, every side claims to own the environment. The supporters of FME claim that their policy is the best for environmental conservation; consequently, they blame the conventional ways of ecological restoration as impractical to achieve the end.

FME holds the need to safeguard the property rights against both private and public initiated harms, including ecological contamination. This means each person has the duty to evade polluting the property or backyard of another.

When the proprietor consents that there is a deposition of waste onto private property, and it imposes physical damage, then this becomes ecological hurt but not pollution. All kinds of climate change impact property rights. Most of the human activities aggravate environmental change, leading to catastrophes (Adler 308).

FME proponents consider the slightest ecological alteration an annoyance under the common law. Their main aim is to safeguard their property rights within the environment. Furthermore, the policy proposes that countries at high threats of green consequences should get security or reprieve. Industrialized countries like North America and Europe have contributed immensely to environmental degradation. They are; therefore liable to compensate developing countries since the emissions interfered with the property rights.


The struggle on who should own the environment is a weighty issue creating wrangles between environmentalists and the libertarians. Libertarians postulate that the best way to protect the environment is to own it privately without any governmental influence.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, aim at conserving it through the application of regulations, as well as using the governmental powers to enforce them. The solitary technique of protecting the environment is through a rigid dedication to property rights. When individuals or groups like Nature Conservancy, get designation to a portion of setting, it is their assets and liability.

They usually have a stake in preserving their ventures and acting rapidly to tackle any disquiets. It is certain that they may perhaps act deceptively; however, they meet the penalties in such cases. It is; therefore, asserted that ownership of the environment is a collective responsibility since each group has its own proposition.

Works Cited

Adler, Jonathan. “Taking Property Rights Seriously: The Case of Climate Change.” Social Philosophy and Policy 26.2 (2009): 296-316. Print.

Barnett, Alex. & Yandle, Bruce. “The End of the Externalities Revolution.” Social Philosophy and Policy 26.2 (2009): 130-50. Print.

Block, Walter. “Environmentalism and Economic Freedom: The Case for Private Property Rights.” Journal of Business Ethics 17 (1998): 1887-99. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Who Owns Environment." December 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/who-owns-environment/.


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