Thursday, 3 June 2010

Save the whales?

Pete Bethune is prepared to go to jail to save whales, but I don’t recall him or anyone else throwing acid at cattle trucks, or trying to occupy abattoirs so cows can’t be killed.

He’d look a bit stupid, wouldn’t he. Hard to get any sort of traction for a “save the cows” campaign.

But what’s the essential difference between marine cattle and land cattle?  Well, one essential difference is that unlike land cattle, the marine cattle aren’t owned by anyone.  Just one simple reason cows aren’t an endangered species. Fact is, says Christopher Costello, a professor of natural resource economics at UC Santa Barbara, as long as you treat the ocean and everything in it like a commons, “then people will treat the ocean like a public bathroom.”

How to save a dying ocean?  Easy. Recognise ownership rights in oceans.


  1. Reason TV is great. The analogy of the public toilet vs a hotel toilet to explain the tragedy of the commons is spot on.

  2. I actually think ownership of oceans may be a good idea, but how do you divide it up in the first place? Because everyone would claim the same stuff. If you get past that hurdle fairly your idea certainly has some merit.


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