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Joseph Hakam

Re: Conservative Environmentalist? Not an Oxymoron

By Joseph HakamTo the Editor:I loved the Feb. 3rd article “Conservative Environmentalist? Not an Oxymoron” that Eleanor Vaughan wrote. Congratulations on an awesome article. You understand that free markets can be a powerful source for good in the world if directed in the right way, such as with green energy research funding and subsidies. Unfortunately, when I was looking at the comments on the article, it looked like few people feel the same way. What much of the audience is failing to grasp is the Tragedy of the Commons (Look to Garrett Hardin’s work for more information). Without being steered in the right direction by legislation such as Eleanor Vaughan suggested, the free market just serves to make money. The goal of making money is not a bad thing. However, in a lot of cases, the easiest way to make money is simply to pass off the costs to others.I come from Singapore, and unfortunately as we’ve found out, Indonesia’s “development” of its rainforests without the proper mechanisms in place has just resulted in a passing-off of environmental costs to other nations. In 1997/98, 2006, and 2010, our entire region was blanketed in particulate smog from the fires caused by the clearing of Indonesian rainforest for palm oil plantations. The worst event, the 97/98 one, is estimated to have cost Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei over 9 billion US dollars in medical conditions, lost work hours, and lost tourism, not a cent of which was paid for by Indonesia. In a legislative vacuum, by far the easiest way to profit is to make others pay.There’s some other rather disturbing misconceptions that people displayed, most notably that “biodiversity is way too overrated”. As someone who works in the field of ecology, I’m horrified by this view. Greater biodiversity is a sign that an… Read More