A Better Way To Protect the Earth: Privatize Environmentalism

deers prairieEnvironmentalism is synonymous with leftist politics. Whatever the well-meaning intentions of its origins, that’s just the way it is. Of course, this is why environmentalism’s work is never done. There is always one more capitalist achievement that benefits mankind to knock off, one more free-market institution that generates profit to crush, one more of liberty’s gains to reverse. The goal isn’t to scrub Earth clean but to wield power.

Though a healthy environment is an obvious public good, the better alternative is to privatize environmentalism.

Most traditional environmentalism is grounded in government telling private citizens what they can and cannot do on and with their own property. In privatized environmentalism, private interests using private money buy land and conserve it.

It’s an arrangement already at work in Montana, where the American Prairie Reserve is, according to Ronald Bailey writing on the Reason Hit & Run blog, attempting “to recreate an untamed landscape” so 21st century Americans can “be exhilarated by the sight of thousands of wild bison, elk, deer and antelope roaming free over vast areas of unfenced, native prairie.”

Bailey says that the organization “is working to create the largest wildlife park of any kind in the lower 48 states — and it’s doing it all with private money.” He adds, “The ultimate goal is to create a 3.5 million-acre reserve, an area about the size of the state of Connecticut and one and (a) half times the size of Yellowstone National Park.”

And as the reserve grows, so will wildlife herds, Bailey adds. The bison population is expected to reach 10,000 and the elk population 15,000 in the next 20 years. The numbers of deer, sheep, cougars and birds is also expected to increase.

Bailey’s post is a long one but worth the effort needed to read it, with its inclusion of the charming 19th century prose of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and an appetite-whetting reference to Wild Sky Beef. Take a look.