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Not hugely plausible

Quora Answer : Are there any libertarians who are genuinely environmentalists?

Apr 28, 2014

I'm sure there are. But it seems to me they're making life hard for themselves, as government lawmaking has at least some proven record of working. (Eg. national parks. various successful pollution bans). Whereas market-based solutions aren't anything like as plausible.

Stuart Farrand's example of bribing land-owners to protect wolves seems to me to be creating very much the wrong kind of incentives. Effectively it turns environmental responsibility into a kind of protection racket. What happens if the environmentalists fail to meet their payments one month? Do the land-owners go out and shoot some wolves to focus their minds?

If the government obliged land-owners to protect wolves, the land-owners would be forced to come up with their own business models and creative solutions to accommodate having wolves on their land, leading to a sustainable relationship.

Instead, this Danegeld model lets the land-owners carry on as usual with the knowledge that their lack of innovation will be covered for by environmentalists. And the protection will be as fragile tomorrow as it is today. They have no long term incentive to make accommodation with the wolves. And their acceptance of wolves will collapse the moment the payments dry up. Thus it's naively ignorant about the reality of the psychology of incentives.

(Aside, it often seems that Libertarians are still working with an Aristotelian understanding of incentives compared to other political parties who've at least entered the Newtonian age of Hobbes and Machiavelli. Perhaps not so surprising when the Austrian economists declared that economics wasn't a science but just "common sense" given a fancy name and elevated to unquestionable dogma.)

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