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OpenMarket: Lands and Wildlife

  • Some Genuine Vindictiveness in Park Closings

    October 4, 2013
    The Washington Times story on the attempted forced shut down of the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina may provide some insight into the attitudes of the National Park Service in shutting down private concessionaires on federal lands that still have open access for the public. NPS chief spokesman said: "NPS [is]a single entity....We do not believe it is appropriate or feasible to have some parts of the system open while other parts are closed to the public." If other words, if we suffer, you suffer. Appears to be some genuine vindictiveness there. Perhaps NPS is worried that if the public sees how well the private concessionaires are running campgrounds, picnic areas, hotels, stores, bookshops and properties such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Va., which was closed even though it takes no federal money and has no federal employees -- they...
  • How to Have Enough Water for Everybody

    May 28, 2013
    Last week I testified in the Water and Power Subcommittee in the House of Representatives (hearing linked here). The concern was water availability and federal funding for for research and development in desalinating (de-salting) seawater and brackish water for human consumption or use in irrigation or industry. I argued against the funding and pointed out that water shortages are almost always rooted in poor pricing for water. Without market pricing, scarcities and havoc will rule. I call for the separation of water and state. My long-form...
  • Virginia's Uranium Mining Moratorium Should Be Buried, But What About Property Rights?

    January 16, 2013
    The earth below the United States contains 5 percent of the world's known recoverable uranium deposits. More than a quarter of U.S. uranium is found in southern Virginia at Coles Hill near Chatham in Pittsylvania County. The two uranium deposits at Coles Hill are valued at $7 billion and together constitute the seventh largest deposit in the world. Yet all of it is still in the ground. Over 30 years ago, Virginia placed a moratorium on uranium mining in the state. This prohibition was to be lifted once the state went through the arduous process of drafting uranium mining regulations. Unfortunately, Virginia never got around to writing the rules and the "temporary" ban is still in place. The property owners at Coles Hill and some outside investors formed a company in order to...
  • LOST Washing Up To Our Shores Once Again

    October 1, 2012
    The United National Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Simultaneously, there has been a push for the U.S. to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). Though signed, the treaty was never ratified by the U.S.; and for good reason. LOST redistributes wealth away from developed states, such as the U.S., and discourages innovation and investment. LOST replaces hundred-year-old sea boundaries for member states, regardless of being a coastal or land-locked state. This can potentially reduce the extent of sovereign territory of the U.S. For example, Niger, a predominately desert country in Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 400 miles away from the nearest ocean coast-line, is allowed the same relative amount of ocean territory as Greenland, the world’s largest island. LOST also creates a governing board for the...
  • If Demography Is Destiny, We're Screwed (So To Speak)

    August 23, 2012
    "Things will get better." Such sentiments frequently fall from the lips of ever-loving economic optimists who -- while noting the current distressed condition of things -- nonetheless insist that recessions have come before, and have always been followed (eventually) by recoveries. I know a few of these optimists, and they’re quite right -- to a point. Because what these sunny souls forget is that every recovery depends upon a plentiful supply of Earth’s most precious resource -- human beings. And it is a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce, especially in the industrialized democracies. Until recently, the United States was famous for bucking the plummeting birth-rate trend that has haunted other advanced countries for years. But apparently Americans are now caving to the peer pressure (“Come on, Yanks! Everyone’s -- not -- doing it!”). According to a recent report in...
  • Decoding The Malthusian Fallacy

    August 6, 2012
    The writings of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) inspired Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle to condemn economics as "the dismal science." Witnessing the deplorable crowding, poverty, and disease of England's dirty cities and struck by a grim historical record of famines and epidemics, Malthus embodied academic pessimism. The work that made his reputation and popularized his name was An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus felt he was a Cassandra, admonishing utopians to beware of a catastrophic inevitability they could not see: The human population would inevitably exceed the carrying capacity of its environment.
    This natural inequality of the two powers, of population, and of production of the earth,...
  • Remembering Elinor Ostrom

    June 12, 2012
    Among the individuals with whom I wish I could have greater opportunities to exchange ideas is Elinor Ostrom. She passed away today, and now I must pursue that conversation indirectly -- via her writings, her colleagues, and my recollections of those few conversations I did have the opportunity to enjoy.
  • Give a Man a Fish

    May 18, 2012
    Those with an interest in conserving our oceans’ fish stocks and those with an interest in promoting private property should both be interested in my latest short study at CEI, "Give a Man a Fish." Here’s the introduction:
    Some policy makers and environmental advocacy groups are beginning to realize that the solution lies not in further government regulation, but in investing fishermen with property rights. However, government bureaucrats are also attempting to utilize this insight to gain even more power over fisheries, threatening to derail the momentum toward a more rational allocation of ocean resources. That would be bad news for both fish populations and the people who depend on them for their livelihood. The oceans are an important source of food and income for people around the world. In 2007, proteins from fish...
  • The Remote Sensing Problem

    May 7, 2012
    Over at the Washington Post, in discussing the coming crisis in weathersats, the editorial board can't resist taking an ignorant dig at George W. Bush:
    The reasons for this outlook are many — some overspending on certain projects to the harm of others, costly congressional mandates that diverted resources, and a recent rocket accident. Even if those factors were ignored, says Dennis Hartman, the chair of the panel that produced the report, agency budgets would still be too low to keep the country’s earth observation system in reasonable shape. The NRC proposes restoring NASA’s earth observation satellite funding to the level seen in the late 1990s — before President George W. Bush reprogrammed money from those satellites into things such as...
  • When Commodities Analysts Should Stick To Commodities

    May 1, 2012
    Some analysts at Barclays attempt to understand the business case for Planetary Resources, and massively fail:
    Their calculations are based on Nasa’s forthcoming OSIRIS-REx mission, which aims to launch a probe in 2016 to pluck samples from an asteroid called 1999 RQ36 and bring them to Earth. The mission’s acronym stands for “Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith...

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