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Green Capitalism: How to Protect the Environment by Defining Private Property Rights

Hannes H. Gissurarson

Every day we are told by newscasters, teachers in classrooms and scholars at conferences that our environment is being destroyed by unbridled capitalism and that we need some kind of central economic planning to save it. We are told that we also as consumers have to reduce signi cantly our needs that are now being so e ciently satis ed for warm houses, fast cars, electrical appliances and various industrial products. Is this so? 

This report is divided into four main parts. In the first part the report discusses the common claim that our environment is being destroyed and recalls dire predictions about the future, trying to explain their emotional roots. In the second part it describes the main tenets of ‘wise use environmentalism’ and the economic and political case for private property rights. In the third part it analyses solutions that have been developed in Iceland to the problem of common-pool or non-exclusive resources, such as mountain pastures, salmon rivers and, most importantly, off shore sheries. In the fourth part it looks at exotic wildlife, whales, elephants, and rhinos and argues that the best way to conserve these valuable species is by defining some kind of use rights to them, akin to private property rights, and to allow trade in their products. Finally, it offers some recommendations. 

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