Home > Enviro Derangement Syndrome, fisheries, Knappenberger, property rights > Strange but true: in the context of climate & fisheries, enviros discuss property rights, cooperation and the tragedy of the commons

Strange but true: in the context of climate & fisheries, enviros discuss property rights, cooperation and the tragedy of the commons

Here, in the belly of the Beast – the ” RealClimate” blog by climate scientists.

Anybody wanna chip in?

So far, comments by yours truly are as follows:

134. TokyoTom Says:

thanks for a thoughtful post that I hope will be brought to the
attention of every so-called “skeptic” – none of whom has any basis to
deny that there are simply NO property rights protecting the atmosphere
(or the oceans).

As a result, to prevent a continuing “tragedy of the commons” the
nations of the world, we need to make a collective effort to manage what
is, after all, a shared resource.

It`s nice to see that others see that where there are no formal or
informal property rights or similar mechanisms, all incentives point to


171. TokyoTom Says:

rights are not an end-all or be-all, but they are a linchpin in
understanding the dynamics of the tragedy of the commons problem.
Resources that are owned – formally or informally, in common or
privately – are husbanded, at least much better that when they are not.

This is a key point to keep hammering home with “conservatives”,
“skeptics” and ordinary people, whom can all recognize that market
demands produce a tragedy of the commons whenever valuable resources
are not owned (or cannot be protected) by those who use them.

When there is ownership, (1) users have incentives to invest in
protecting what, after all, supports their own livelihoods and, even
further, (2) those who also care about the resource have an ability to
also protect the resource – by investing it themselves, or by making
other private, market decisions, such as to boycott particular owners
and to favor others.

When there is no ownership, there is very limited ability by anyone
to protect the resource directly, and what we are left with is a battle
of words.

Of course a corollary problem that requires attention is that when
resources are “publicly” owned, such resources may in fact be treated
as a commons, or something that politicians and bureaucrats dole out to
whomever is in favor – witness the environmental destruction in
communist states, the logging of “public” tropical forests, and our own
continued mismanagement of public lands.

In that case of fisheries, this is so readily apparent that even the
mainline environmental groups are now calling for giving fishermen
property rights in the fish they catch in order to end the destructive
race to catch them:


Meanwhile, concerned citizens continue to misunderstand the key
dynamics of environmental problems, and to miss opportunities to rub
the faces of “market” fundamentalists and “conservatives” in the
obvious lack of property rights in the atmosphere (and a related
inability of those adversely affected by using the atmosphere as a
dumping ground to seek redress from those who profit from using it as


  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.