22 April 2013

The Earth needs YOU

Although every day is Earth Day (and Water Day and Toilet Day, etc.) at aguanomics, some people like to pay attention to the Earth once per year, i.e., TODAY.

Well, here's my message to you:
  • The Earth doesn't need us; we need the Earth.
  • The government is not always the best protector of the Earth; sometimes individuals need to find a way to protect the Earth (and themselves) from harmful government interventions.
  • We all share the environment, but it's hard to organize a few people to do work that benefits many (i.e., take a collective action to protect a common pool good), but collective action is possible without government coercion.
  • Such action is easier when more people are doing it.
So I suggest that you do three things for the Earth today:*
  1. Do something to clean up the commons. Pick up litter, curb your dog or bike to work.
  2. Talk to one person about a joint responsibility that you'd like to manage better, whether it's the dirty dishes in the sink, an overstuffed office fridge or the rubbish at the end of your road. Make and implement a plan.
  3. Go enjoy the nature we all share, in a park, next to a river, or on the beach in the rain, sunshine or moonlight. There's no point in cleaning up if you can't enjoy it.
Bottom Line: Bottoms up solutions are easier to start and more efficient at addressing problems. Once everyone is doing their own version of bottoms up, it's also easier to arrange collective actions to coordinate people. Then, at the last step, it's possible (and probably efficient) to implement top down programs that rely on coercion and/or regulatory incentives.

* I'm answering emails on how to manage water, writing this blog post for you, and going for a bike ride, respectively :)

Addendum: I also just updated my essay, Economists owe ecology an apology, so read it if you're interested in THAT topic.

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