Toronto faces a motion to reject the idea of privatizing its water and sewage systems. Worldwide experience shows that could be a mistake.
Ask an environmentalist how to ensure an ongoing healthy ecology, and he will almost certainly suggest more government regulation. Who would have thought that a more effective method has always been available within the English-speaking world? Yet this method has kept the British Isles green, even though their population density is 75 times greater than Canada’s.
A chapter from Who Owns the Environment?, a collection of essays edited by Peter Hill and Roger Meiners exploring the theory that environmental concerns are essentially property rights issues. In this chapter, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews the ancient roots of contemporary property rights and traces their evolution in Canada. She describes the ways in which concerned citizens have used their property rights to clean up and to prevent pollution. She then chronicles successive governments’ efforts to replace the common law with statutes and regulations governing the environment. Lastly, she recommends restoring strong property rights in order to return control over environmental degradation to those most directly affected by it.
This is a high-spirited, well-written and informative book on the law as the protector of the environment, a book to be recommended to students in environmental studies and law and economics, a book made more interesting, challenging and useful because its prescriptions are, in my opinion, largely wrong.