I couldn't have said it better myself:
Libertarians claim that the best way to protect the environment is to have it privately owned. If streams, oceans, and underground aquifers were privately owned, the owners could sue polluters such as the oil companies, the mining companies, agri-business, etc. Thus, private property would protect the environment. Whether this would work or not, we are a long way from such private ownership, and many private economic activities are destroying common environmental resources.
The list is endless. The World Wildlife Fund reports that Asia Pulp & Paper is destroying the last remaining Sumatran tigers by clear cutting the tigers’ last remaining refuge in order to produce toilet paper marketed in the US under the Paseo and LIVI brand names. “Feel the Power! Buy our product and flush a tiger and a rain forest!”
The National Defense Resource Council reports that under an Obama regime and state of Utah plan, massive coal mining will be permitted adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. Three hundred heavy diesel trucks per day will travel down the scenic two-lane highway to supply China with dirty coal.
The Obama regime has granted Shell Oil tentative approval to begin drilling off the coast of the Arctic Refuge, the main on-shore birthing ground for polar bears.
Defenders of Wildlife reports that Shell Oil is pushing to open Bristol Bay to oil drilling, despite the danger to fisheries and wildlife and despite the fact that the long-term value of the renewable fisheries far exceeds the short-term value of nonrenewable fossil fuel extraction in the area.
In the Powder River Basin in Montana, coal companies are mobilizing to destroy the water resources and ranchers in the eastern part of the state.
All of these are current hot ticket items with progressives, environmentalists, and ranchers. Obama is vulnerable. He has put the tar sands pipeline on hold, but many believe he will approve the environmentally destructive project once he is re-elected.
Air, water, wildlife, and fish in the sea are not private property and have no protectors. They are being destroyed by the lack of regulation. Moreover, private property has not protected forests from being clearcut or soil from being depleted of its natural nutrients. The chemical farming with which agri-business has replaced natural farming has polluted America’s aquifers, streams, lakes, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico, which has extensive dead areas from chemical fertilizer run-off.
As Herman Daly and other environmental economists have made clear, the world is running out of sinks into which to dump its wastes. The external costs of unregulated activity are mounting. Once a threshold is crossed, the environment is ruined. The drive to maximize short-run profits is a great source of ruin. The external costs associated with maximizing short-run profits can exceed the value of the private output.