Inspired by talking to a friend who works for the government department that look after the rights of the indigenous. He told me about a reservation where the life and ecosystem of the indigenous people and ecology are meant to be preserved. But it's in danger because it relies on rivers flowing into it from the outside. And these are damaged by pollution and lose water to irrigation etc.
Could rights be defined not over parcels of land, but the inflows to your corner of a system? For example, I buy not the right to do anything to my property, but the protection from upstream pollution. In all other regards would work as property. I could buy and sell it. The state would protect my rights. I'd have freedom to use my node any-way I like, except to disrupt downstream nodes. (Or not disrupt more than some value I paid.)
As water becomes a big issue, our intuitions about the NaturalJustice of System Inflow Rights are going to become decisive. When is it wrong to divert the inflow that someone is using?
- See, for example, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4818332.stm