I listened to our Government's Chief Scientist, John Bebbington, on Radio 4 this morning, he is retiring and has made a statement on three ‘underlying problem’ facing Humanity: Climate Change, population Growth, and Sustainable cities.
What annoys me about such media debate is they seem to avoid all discussion on actual remedies to the three ‘underlying problems’ he raised. Instead of examining the solutions, the debate concentrated on anguish, wringing their hands with worry; saying it is really difficult and if only we tried a little harder, and it’s going to cost a fortune to protect the planet, and nobody wants to bear the cost of doing so etc...
The real ‘underlying problem’ is our legal, political and economic system that enshrines the right of Government bodies & private individuals to own the ability to destroy and monopolise natural assets without compensation to the rest of society & ‘the planet’; yet it is the one issue that never seems to be challenged by mainstream media and they seem incapable of discussing it. This is further shown where normally ‘good’ people find it hard to discuss population control because it has so many negative connotations with totalitarianism and despotic control. If we just looked at factors that really do, ‘statistically’ control population and are socially acceptable we can pursue them, such factors are about personal & financial security, quality education and equality in ownership of opportunities and the resources needed to sustain life.
So the real huge elephant that is in the room is not the problems of population, climate change and the sustainability of cities that Professor Bebbington highlighted, but that there is a simple coherent remedy to all these problems. This remedy will cost society ‘nothing’, it will impoverish no one, it will help feed the poorest in society, tackling poverty, crime and ill health. This remedy will free our creativity and enterprise to focus, naturally, on the three great challenges facing humanity that Bebbington quite correctly identified.
The Remedy? Just transfer all existing taxation to Land Values and natural resource exploitation, and include in our taxation structure environmental and social externalities. In addition, if we want to get to grips with fundamental issues we need a system of ‘Money Supply’ that reflects the wealth of human labour and the natural assets available to us, issued as credit and not debt.
How to control population:Education, equality, and security for the future will bring down birth rates and we will end up reducing population. These have been well observed, first by the economist Henry George in 1870’s, while debunking the pseudo-science of Thomas Malthus, and in just about all societies these are the deterministic factors in birth rates. If you believe in Malthus the human populations will always rise to carrying capacity and thus enshrine natural resource depletion and poverty. In the real world, the Malthus theory breaks down as there are numerous examples where well-ordered and fair societies have low birth rates and dysfunctional societies have high birth rates. http://www.henrygeorge.org/pchp6.htm
How to make cities sustainable:capture the value of the monopoly of land as government revenue and stop the formation of land monopolies that makes cities perform so inefficiently and ensure social division and poverty. http://savingcommunities.org
Climate change:To tackle climate charge people who use natural resources and thus must pay the externalities that are involved in a form of tax (offsetting other taxes) and thus we will respect nature and make its use efficient and more sustainable without the need to create poverty. New technologies that do not abuse nature will flourish by directing ‘Human Action’ to concentrate on activities that do not harm the planet and that those activities will remain untaxed by society through income & trade taxes and by monopolists through ‘economic rent’.
Taxing land and natural resources and externalises will mean the cost of that use is included in every economic transaction driving down our harm to the planet and leaving nature alone to rewild. It means there will be no poverty and enough resources to provide excellent education and health care for all free, it will stabilise society and reduce crime and war and provide the security to allow people to have fewer children. All without the force of government.
Just as a plastic bag tax reduced use by nearly 90% so taxes on all land and natural resources will immediately get us to use more efficient transport, better-insulated homes and reduce the environmental costs and concentrate human development on less and less land. And no one has to be persuaded, except the politicians that keep our taxation system on the shoulders of the hard-working people who create the wealth of the world while allowing the abusive owners of land and natural resources off the hook Scott free.
My lecture on the subject - skip over the first pat to 12 mins in