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Over at Gristmill, Jason Scorse--an environmentalist who believes in market principles, and an economist teaching at the Monterey Institute of International Studies--posted his four favorite policies for cleaning up the world:
"Eliminate all natural-resource subsidies. Subsidies to timber companies, fishermen, farmers, and the oil and gas industry are by far the most damaging environmental policies engaged in by governments around the world." These subsidies both encourage environmental degradation and make natural resources seem cheaper than they are, making it hard for alternatives to compete.
"Expand property rights in areas where they are weak or non-existent. The areas in the world where we witness the greatest levels of environmental degradation (the oceans, many large tropical forests, and the atmosphere) are those where property rights are absent, unclear, or poorly enforced." Whether held by individuals, groups, or governments, make those rights clear.
"Empower society with information. Basic environmental science is something that will be underfunded in a pure 'free market,' because it is rarely profitable; therefore, governments should do more to support scientific research."
"Enlarge green markets through government purchases. Since governments are some of the largest buyers of natural resources in the world (e.g. paper, power, food), their purchases have a huge impact on markets and the environment."
There are some interesting comments both at Gristmill and at Environmental Economics, where Scorse also posted.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Adam Bilsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) of DePaul's Management of Public Services Graduate Program would like to know "what obstacles currently face supporters of green residential building in Chicago, and what action steps might remove them to stimulate market demand." If you'd like to help, take his survey (confidentiality promised) before Thursday at surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=355372368977. It's not excessively long.