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, 14 February 2020

How do we stop the Insect Apocalypse?

There have been a number of articles this week on the insect apocalypse, with some studies showing an 80% drop in insect numbers since the late 90s. These come from the car windshield splatter effect. We now see so few bugs splattered across our windscreen when many of us over 40 in childhood saw  our car windscreen splattered with insects, and every stop our parents had to wipe hundreds of squashed bugs from our windscreens during the summer.

More detailed studies in Germany have identified a 75% decline in flying insect numbers over a 26 year period.

As those who read this blog will know I am more interested in solutions to ecological issues and one of my pet hates is this futile dilemmas presented in mainstream media as fact.  So listening to  people once again wringing thier hands saying nothing can be done and if we do it will cost a fortune, poor people will suffer etc against those saying we must ban pesticides now, whatever the cost makes me quite agitated. Such futile dilemmas are indeed futile if we approach the problem without knowledge of the economics of land.

Reading the articles this week there have been impassioned calls to cause terror that our whole biosphere will collapse and we are sleepwalking into a ecological and human catastrophe. This could be true but so far humanity and policy makers have not made efforts to avoid such a unforeseen catastrophes.

The issue of is not just that insecticides are killing all our bugs, its issue like biomass in soils, food availability (weeds), seasonality of food availability, loss of complex boundary habitats,  connective habitats, drainage etc,  basically land in a wild condition is not available for insects to have homes and food.

What I find criminal is the lack of government research into such a vital topic, just some relatively low scale NGO research, surely this is something vital to the security of  us all and thus something government bodies should have excellent research on. (for all the tin foil hat wearers perhaps they already do!!!)

The other issue forgotten by such media coverage is  about how we actually stop this life threatening decline in the very fabric of our biosphere... As ever efficient use of land and pesticides is key. Legal instruments are useful but the best solution would be to increase the cost of using land and pesticides (and all harmful chemicals). A simple Land Value Tax and a simple Pesticide tax (externality taxes)  would make all farmers and landowners think seriously about land and chemical use and therefore look to use less allowing more insects to thrive.

Such an economic solution would reward hard working farmers for thier ingenuity and skill and punish those push button agronomist advised agribusinesses  pumping ever more chemicals into what little remains of our soils.

Such a system would improve economic activity and the health and welfare of people.

Having sustainable agriculture under a system of Land Value Taxation will take away the monopoly of land that allows people to profit from rents and capital value created by insecticide use, thus the new taxes will impose costs on land and chemical use would come out of rents received by landowners and  capitalised into the ever increasing cost of land. Such costs would not come out of having to charge more for food, but the profits derived by those who have not earned it or deserve profits made from killing nature.

But if we increase taxes on Land and externalities we can relieve the poor of thier tax burdens of VAT and Income tax which will make poor people better off and improve the quality of their food, drinking water and environment. So no one has to suffer for improved environmental standards. The only losers will be monopolists, tax dodgers and bank shareholders (I for one will not lose any sleep at thier loss)

And maybe our children can suffer the mutterings of parents wiping the bugs off car windscreens on summer trips once again... and maybe our future generations will have a world that will both support them and delight them...

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How do we stop the Insect Apocalypse?

There have been a number of articles this week on the insect apocalypse, with some studies showing an 80% drop in insect numbers since the l...