I know, I know, it is too reminiscent of the days of Communism to talk about ‘common ownership’, and we all know and it is proven that ownership under the capitalist system generally inspires good and efficient care of a resource (using certain criteria), but still….some part of me has always struggled with a system where someone can own and benefit from something as essential to life as land, water, coal, and forests. I understand the so-called tragedy of the commons, but I cannot get my head around someone being able to use and treat a resource how they see fit. I especially cannot understand it when said treatment has adverse effects on others. And by others, I include non-humans as well.

Someone can benefit from burning coal, yet heat up the planet, or buy up massive tracts of farmland to grow sugar, a food source totally unnecessary for our health and well being. For some individuals to profit, they can use a resource where it could be put to better societal and biological use elsewhere (for example, a forest taking in carbon and making oxygen), or they can use a resource in such a way that it produces pollution or adverse effects of some kind (carbon emissions or smog).

In our system few people can own natural resources and the rights to use and exploit them, can let the market decide the rates of exploitation, and potentially exhaust them, and ultimately primarily benefit themselves. Nowhere in nature do we see this plundering, one segment of a species totally dominating a resource.

I believe, without regressing to a system of communism, goods that are common to us all should not be owned, and instead we should transition to a system of stewardship. Yes, you can have guarantees of benefiting from a resource projected through time, having deserved to because you have invested yourself in the exploitation of it, but no, you cannot treat it in a way that will negatively affect others, both other humans and ecosystems, and all life now and all life in the future. Should you neglect your duties of stewardship, which would be set up in law, the right to benefit from that resource or land should be taken away from you.

We should own ourselves, own our freedom and our personal decisions and speech, and items that we have bought with money that we have earned in exchange for our perseverance. I am not against capitalism. But I am against any economic system that allows resources to be concentrated into the hands of the relative few, and exploited in such a way to be detrimental to future and present life. Some resources, most especially natural resources that have taken aeons to evolve, adapt, survive, collect, become formed, belong to themselves and where it does exceed their carrying capacity, their ability to regenerate, to be reasonably shared amongst us all. Surely, a forest belongs to itself as a human belongs to herself or himself. Surely, we make slaves out of species when we decimate rainforest to become palm-oil plantations, to drive our cars in scenarios where public transport would be more than sufficient?

We desperately need to escalate the rights-of-nature movement and design it into the templates of our law and economic systems. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s