The thoughts behind the Renegade Ecologist

From my 30 years as a nature conservationist I have learned the utter futility of trying to protect nature under our current economic system. But by making some small changes to our taxation system we could make a world fit for our children to inherit full of wildlife & prosperity for all.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root....
Henry David Thoreau
"In many ways, nature conservation has become just another method of rent extraction by landowners who are trying to hide the fact that modern farmers’ fields are essentially deserts, devoid of wildlife, and the taxpayer must pay ‘rent’ if we want wild animals to occupy ‘their land’."
Peter Smith

Land Value Tax, which is in my opinion the Holy Grail of legislative changes to protect wildlife, is the simplest expression of the Economic theories of Henry George. This theory goes that if we abolish all harmful taxes on our hard work and trade and instead charge a rent for the use of natural resources such as Land we will not waste them or allow private interests to exploit the rest of humanities access to them.

Such a tax would not only stimulate jobs and enterprise but put a value on all of our natural resources and force us to look after them. If it was implemented for agricultural land, where the lower value of perpetually designated wilderness or natural grazing land is reflected in its land value taxation, it would be the surest way to save the wildlife of the UK and for the least cost to the taxpayer”

This would mean hard to farm areas, steep banks, riverbanks, rocky outcrops and areas landowners want to designate a nature reserves, which must be legally binding, could be set aside for wildlife and as such attract no taxation. The result of this would be that unproductive and marginal land would become wildlife havens and receive long term protection for future generation to enjoy. But it would also take away land and monopolies from our plutocrats who own wealth with no obligation to the rest of society, these plutocrats fund both the red and blue (and Yellow) faction of the vested interest or ‘line my friends pocket’ parties that control the legislature in Britain.

This blog is dedicated to teaching those who love nature that there is a simple ‘magic bullet’ that can save the rare wildlife of this country at no cost to the taxpayer. This magic bullet will actually grow our economy and create jobs and help create a better society based on rewarding those who work hard while penalising idol people who make monopolies such as bankers and landowners.

The solution if adopted worldwide would alleviate poverty and starvation and make a significant contribution to preventing war and terrorism.

Follow me on twitter: @peetasmith

Views are my own and don’t reflect the views of Wildwood Trust

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Rewilding: A Revolutionary Act in a Countryside of Deceit...

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act, and so it is with the rise of the rewilding movement, which has shown the truth behind the silent spring that is befalling our countryside and that farming and landowners and the legal and economic systems that they derive so much privilege from are directly responsible for that wildlife loss.

But the Orwellian double think is used by the landowners in claiming to be guardians of the countryside, protecting its wildlife. When of course they are mostly responsible for our countrysides blatant rape. Our Landowners have not only claimed the land as theirs by theft and murder for centuries and in more recent times subverted the legal system & our government to dole out vast taxpayer subsidies and favourable tax treatment in their pursuit of that rape, wiping out so much in their pursuit of personal profit.

From the pen of the National Union of Farmers Ministry of Truth  this week comes:
Destruction is Conservation.....
Flood prevention is Flooding....
Theft is Property...

Their carefully crafted doublethink in the guise of a press releases has the temerity to say that they are guardians of wildlife for allowing one or two little bits of wildlife to remain (as long as there is another subsidy from the taxpayer for doing so) and that the rewilding movement threatens the countryside and existing wildlife.

Destruction is Conservation.....

 NFU Scotland Vice President Andrew McCornick who said in the Farmers Guardian:
“New species will also affect Scotland’s existing biodiversity and ecosystems. I genuinely believe that Scotland’s biodiversity is in good health, and farmers are at the heart of delivering that,”.

This amazing doublethink is truly cognitive dissonance at its highest that this Landowner thinks they are

a) contributing to Biodiversity - when they have utterly destroyed biodiversity at a frightening rate all helped by huge taxpayer handouts.

b) that existing wildlife will be threatened by rewilding, when it will return in abundance

This is the most amazing lie trying to make out they are protecting wildlife from rewilding which is plain daft, but any lie is good when trying to lie to keep your privilege.

I notice at the bottom of the article for 'premium' users only is a handy calculator to quickly calculate what taxpayer handouts are on offer!

Mr McCornick went on to say in the Scotsman:
 “Recent history has taught us that any species introduction can have an impact on the many benefits that the Scottish countryside currently delivers.
Benfits to whom, the barren hills, the deer stalkers and the uneconomic farmers. But nor our wildlife, the taxpayers or the poverty created by those taxes on people's hard work and enterprise.

Flood prevention is Flooding....

Rewilding is also being blamed for recent flash flood in Alyth in Perthshire. This is an interesting view as beavers do cause local floods the 'simple minded' conclude they will cause bigger floods. On a very small level it is true, but those tiny floods stop the big floods in villages and town and prevent loss of life, this logic is lost on some of our 'Country' Community, again just sophistry protecting privilege and fearful of real wildlife.

The Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) have been trying to point the finger at the Tayside beavers for causing the floods instead of the barren uplands shedding water in rivers canalised to carry such torrents of water ever quicker down stream into the homes of the people of Alyth or even someday to Perth.

Alex Stoddart, director of SACS, said  “We have been told by residents that there are clear beaver marks.SACS is concerned by reports from local residents and members affected by the flooding, that beaver lodge material may have been an exacerbating factor.

“Beavers... now play an increasing, but largely unknown role in local flood and water catchment management. "

The wonderful Scottish Wild Beaver Group leapt to the beavers’ defence, refuting claims that material from dams upstream of the town were brought down by the floodwater.

Paul Ramsay, who owns the Bamff estate where some beavers live, said it was a “ridiculous exaggeration” to blame the animals.

Of course the are many learnered studies showing the important role beavers play in flood defences - to find out more watch my lecture on the subject from last year:

Theft is Property...

This is the real lie at the heart of our problems of our countryside & economy. Land was not created by individuals only the improvements they make upon it. That should be their property not the land that captures through rent and value the work of everyone else and the income received by destroying nature and misusing natural resources. When the farmer benefits society they should be rewarded through selling food, caring for the land's future productivity and providing services to others. When they take from us by their monopoly of land, taxpayer handouts, destroying the future productivity, polluting and robbing us and our children of nature... then they should pay.

Of course we all pay in higher food costs, the productive farmer is just a conduit in which that cost is passed on, but that is fine as in such as system there will be more wealth to support the needy and we will have more money to buy food but the true cost of making that food will make us choose foods that have been produced in a way that protects our environment and our future. So leass manufactured poor quality food and more whole foods.

So the truly productive landowner and farmer will benefit from his work and ingenuity in creating the food for our table and the feckless landowner and reckless farmer who destroys as he creates will suffer and so it should be.

2 minutes of hate....

So I have had my 2 minutes of hate at the National Farmers Union of Scotland, all well and good but what are the real solutions to the Scottish Countryside, our society and the wildlife that can thrive and benefit.

People are people and we should not demonise any group but find the root problems and remedies, we also need to distinguish between farmers and landowners, even when they are one and the same. But most land managers respond to cultural and economic pressure. The culture of landownership being one of dominion upon land without proper responsibility & the economic topography of grants and taxation systems reflecting that dominion are the real problem. Land owners should both morally and economically pay for what the take (monopoly access to land and environmental externalities) and receive reward for the benefits they bring; food and certain land management practices such as paths and hedge maintenance by road and the benefits to wildlife they bring etc. The legal status of land ownership should be trusteeship and not 'ownership'. This will drive culture and economics to use land wisely and efficiently and allow land of no economic benefit to be rewilded. This would be a massive cultural shift attacking the very substance of privilege in our society over the last 1000 years and resisted fiercely, but it is what is needed if we are to ever rewild our land and hold land as a common treasury for all people, future generations and wildlife.

When landowners compensate all of us for the damage they have done to wildlife and watersheds then they can have compensation for loss of production - that's fair is it not? This sounds mad but is easily achievable through using land rent and externalities as a basis of our system of taxation and reducing taxation on earned income that provides jobs and steers us to a vibrant and environmentally friendly economy.

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