Home > Uncategorized > As BP's oil spills into one of those inconvenient "ecosystems", now even Reason TV rants about "dying oceans"

As BP's oil spills into one of those inconvenient "ecosystems", now even Reason TV rants about "dying oceans"

Another BP post!

I continue to scratch my head on the knee-jerk reactions by Austrian-libertarians on problems regarding management of common resources: are not our physical and electronic communities commons? Don’t commons support many people directly, and us all indirectly? Aren’t there huge and obvious commons-related problems that stem from government ownership and “management” of resources – be they federal lands, the seas, our fiat currency, or our financial institutions and publicly-listed companies?

Don’t we all know that government gets in the way, frustrating the ability of people with differing preferences to search for and reach mutual accommodations, and instead putting them at loggerheads in zero-sum situations?

The unbecoming reflexive hostility  indicates that even those who think they have their thinking caps on cannot see past the partisan conflict that government itself generates.

But I dither.  Allow me to gather here for interested readers some scraps of information regarding the state of our oceans.

1.  From my initial response to Lew Rockwell‘s “Feel Sorry for BP? ” post:

Lew: “the environmentalists went nuts yet again, using the occasion to flail a private corporation and wail about the plight of the “ecosystem,” which somehow managed to survive and thrive after the Exxon debacle.”

Me: Seems to me your “facts” about the damage done by Exxon Valdez to the “environment” – including the small segments used by by man – and recovery/compensation are basically counterfactual:



Further, it seems you don’t have any real clue as to the escalating damage that man is doing to our shared ocean “commons”. These two TED talks might help open your eyes:



2.  While I think this understates the size of the BP spill, it is still a useful explanation for how the spill trauma differs from natural oil seeps:
The Oil Drum | Natural Oil Seeps and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster: A Comparison of Magnitudes http://bit.ly/9KZGm4
3.  Those radical enviros over Reason.tv seem to share my concerns; they have put up a new video on June 2 with the alarmist title: “How To Save A Dying Ocean“.  It was written, produced and hosted by Ted Balaker. Nick Gillespie cross-posted it to Big Government.com, where there is another comment thread. In both places, readers/viewers seem not to have noticed that environmentalists are now solid supporters of privatizing fisheries.
Here’s a chunk of the description:

The Gulf of Mexico continues to gush oil just as a whaling controversy threatens to land Australia and Japan in international court for killing protected species. Meanwhile, another less-publicized but arguably more cataclysmic oceanic disaster continues to worsen.

Overfishing threatens to destroy most of the world’s fisheries within a matter of decades. …

“Everything in the ocean from the great whales to dolphins to plankton is being jeopardized,” Psihoyos tells Reason.tV. “We’re raping and harvesting the ocean unsustainably.”

Overfishing “could mean the end of certain species,” agrees UC-Santa Barbara’s Costello. He points out that about a third of the world’s fisheries have already collapsed, and many more are heading toward the same fate. Costello says the world’s fisheries are in such bad shape because of the same reason public restrooms are typically foul places: “Nobody owns them. Nobody has the incentive to keep them up.”

One proven solution is a system called “catch share,” in which fishermen have the right to a certain share of the total catch of a type of fish. This form of ownership gives fishermen an incentive to make sure fish populations grow, and according to Costello’s worldwide research, it’s the only thing that seems to work.

Environmentalists are often suspicious of the profit motive, but from Alaska to New Zealand, market forces have been harnessed not for plunder but for preservation. Fishermen like the system because they make money, and environmentalists like it because it supports sustainable practices. Expanding the catch share system may well be the best way to save a dying ocean.

Here’s the video – which is worth a look:

4.  I note that I have already posted extensively on oceans/fisheries management; for interested readers here are links to some of those posts:




5. Finally, one wonders whether, if fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico had clear “catch rights” or similar property rights, and had control over oil gas exploration and development decisions, they would not have done a good deal better in overseeing BP, and whether BP would not have been quite a bit more careful.( Likewise – if BP owned the Gulf, and received revenues from permitting fish harvests!)

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