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

Friday, 28 June 2019

George Monbiot & Chris Packham are getting close to the fundamental solution to saving our planet

Two recent reports, George Monbiot’s #LandForTheMany  and Chris Packham’s #peoplesmanifestoforwildlife sub report "Where there’s muck there’s brass: revealing the billions hidden in farmland tax shelters”, published today, have started highlighting the economics of land and wildlife destruction.

Miles King - has investigated some of the more obvious tax breaks that  farmers get that are incentivising natures destruction in the People Need Nature Report - See here:

But the journey these leading figures in wildlife protection have gone down, and the many authors they have drawn together, is still not fully complete.  Both reports have highlighted how we are destroying our planet because our current tax and subsidy systems gives incentives to people to kill our wildlife, pollute and use land and natural resources inefficiently.

My personal campaign for the last 20 years has been to highlight this and promote rewilding, understanding that if we cannot tackle these issues, we will continue to lose wildlife no matter what social movements happen, wildlife protection laws are enacted or how many landowners we can win over to rewild their land.

It’s really very simple, if we want to save our planet and rewild land we need to base our entire tax policy on taxing monopolies and externalities and have a tax policy that does not allow avoidance. Shifting taxation from incomes (earnings and trade) and put it on land values. Taxing pesticides, diesel etc (externalities) will all provide a positive incentive to use such resources less and much more efficiently. Taxing land values will reduce land use and allow rewilding. Our current corrupt system is based on inflating land values to benefit the tiny minority of landowners. This has been a political fight waged over hundreds of years, the basis of the Corn Laws and the Liberal movement of the late 19th century, it was behind the Parliament Act and the landowners and bankers win in the end because most people are unaware of the fundamental economic forces at play.

Such a tax shift will save our planet, rewild 40% to 50% of the world, abolish poverty, reduce crime and take away many of the incentives for war. It’s all about understanding the marginal economic choices of the people who control natural resources and land – be it a hill farmer or Donald Trump; people choose to destroy our planet and hurt others because they make money by doing so. Our current tax system pushes people to misuse land and natural resources in so many complex ways that no matter what laws we try to enact it cannot counteract that economic force of those trying to make money from nature’s destruction. If we have a tax system that forces people to use land and natural resources more efficiently then they will choose to damage the planet less, the free market will become our ally as people try to outcompete one another to provide goods and services that use less land, pollution and natural resources within them.

A land value tax collecting the full unimproved rental value of land will make landowners compete to provide food with less land, landowners will be begging to give poor quality land to rewilding charities, grouse moor owners will be falling over themselves to shoot on less land and give up the moors. But by reducing labour taxes we will have more farmers producing more food with less inputs, a true democracy in land is best achieved by fiscal measure and not laws.
If we continue to have policies that give subsidies to landowners, let them off scot free when they pollute, have a system of money creation that is used to fund ever increasing land values then we enshrine natural destruction and poverty, a bleak future for humanity. This is a battle that must be won and for those campaigning to protect our planet the fundamental economic forces must be understood otherwise we will continue to fail in our efforts.

One of my lectures on the subject:

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Be Terrified (tackling) Global Climate Disaster will Destroy the NHS

“MPs are voting today to commit to reducing Britain's CO2 emissions to 'net zero'. The cost is likely to be more than £1 trillion. Ministers say an impact assessment is not required.”

So, says spam Facebook posts from dodgy think tanks spamming my social media feeds today. Their slickly produced videos have pictures of nurses and doctors with an ominous title spelling out how many doctors and nurse £1 Trillion would pay for.

View more of the 'Global Warming Policy Forum's' drivel here:

They are trying to scare people into being frightened of tackling a global climate catastrophe and it works judging by the comments.  But such futile trade-offs and false dichotomies are at the heart of tackling all societies problems, whether it is saving wildlife, helping people with physical and mental health problems or educating our children.

Its all fundamentally a load of old bollocks! But unfortunately, most people are too dumb to recognise the false framing of both those actively manipulating the dialogue to save us from a global catastrophe, or those determined to bury their heads in the sand and deny we have a looming disaster on our hands. The only winners are those that ensure such a false narrative perpetuates on both sides of the augment and can use public outrage to frame Government policies for their own self advantage.

Whether its companies or banks looking to own ‘carbon credits’ to trade as the new land barons of the future with a tradeable commodity to pollute or the landowners and natural resource owners looking to abuse nature’s bounty for their personal wealth, they are both playing the system for self-advantage and hoodwinking the general population to accept their avarice and greed harnessing fear and outrage.

Such false dilemmas and futile trade-offs presented here are highly disingenuous and let me explain.
It would cause no problems to truly tackle global warming, in fact we could increase wealth and jobs for most people if we simply transferred taxes from earned incomes to carbon taxes and land value taxes. But those who own the rights of economic rents from land and natural resources try to hide this economic solution. Such tax shifts would create efficiency in production using the free market to create low carbon and low land use in our goods and services. Lower land use would allow carbon to be reabsorbed back into organic matter such as soils and land rewilded for wildlife. But such sense is hidden by foolish and selfish policies of a corrupt system of Government and self-interest of those wedded to our current monopoly capitalistic system instead of true free market principles that correctly account for monopoly and externalities.

This is compounded by most people not understanding the best policies to use to tackle runaway climate catastrophe, such policies often proposed by those politicians and groups wedded to preserving our monopolistic economic system use the feelings of people terrified of global warming, saying; ‘if it costs a trillion so be it’, but without a knowledge of economics and money supply such people are allowing a different portion of our corrupt elite to steal their future incomes, this time with the promise of averting a global disaster. Under our current system the costs of the taxpayer coving inefficient efforts to reduce carbon use would fall on the poorest further dividing society and creating poverty, while at the same time doing little to tackle carbon use.

But if we adopt land value taxes and externality tax shifts we could solve this futile dilemma and create a world fit for our children to inherit, that truly values our natural world (by actually making people pay for its abuse) and makes perfect economic sense. But the rich would get poorer and their political cronies would lose power – so it not going to happen until we all educate ourselves on the basic economic principles by which we choose to use and abuse natural resources and land. We all must understand that it is monopoly, mostly in the ownership of land and natures gifts that drives poverty.

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