Conflict Research Consortium BOOK SUMMARY

Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management

by

Richard L. Stroup and John A. Baden

Citation:

Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management, Richard L. Stroup and John A. Baden, (Cambridge: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1983),137 pp.


This book summary written by: T. A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium.

Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management is an examination of environmental management from the perspective that property rights are the underlying value and the main issue to be addressed in the exploitation of natural resources.

Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management will be of interest to those who desire an understanding of environmental management from the perspective of microeconomics. Chapter one is an overview of the book and sets out the underlying assumptions of microeconomic theory. Chapter two examines what the authors assert to be the real issue: property rights. Herein, one will find discussion of: the relationship between property rights and the allocation of resources, the evolution of property rights to natural resources, private and transferable property rights. Additionally, the authors address market failure and potential remedies and public, non-transferable rights in a governmental setting.

Chapter three is an examination of the Native American as a resource manager. This chapter begins with an examination of the relationship between Native Americans and the environment. The authors discuss the Plains Indian's efficient use of the buffalo prior to the introduction of the horse. Consideration of self-instituted conservation behaviour of trappers in the commonly held coastal areas in the early twentieth century precedes an examination of the relationship between cultural and environmental quality.

Chapter four is devoted to resource management in a bureaucratic setting. This chapter explores the current framework for analysis and offers a framework for better resource management. The fifth chapter examines energy scarcities and political opportunism with discussions of: the role of self-interest and government, diversity in biological and economic systems, and alternative energy and market failure. The next chapter addresses property rights and groundwater management with a focus on the commonality problem. A brief explanation of groundwater law is followed by the proposal of an alternative to the present management scheme. This alternative proposes that fully transferable property rights be assigned to groundwater.

Chapter seven focuses on regulation, incentives and pollution. The authors assert that pollution is a case study of market failure and offer consideration of pollution control legislation. They also address several market approaches to eliminate or reduce air pollution. The penultimate chapter asserts that demise of the Sagebrush rebellion. Consideration of the constituency of the Sagebrush rebellion is followed by a one page explanation of the economic problems of society. This is in turn followed by the assertion that property rights, sensitivity and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. The final chapter offers a fifteen page assessment of the management of the federally held forests and the Social Security system.

Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management is an ambitious attempt to evaluate, and provide alternatives to, the present system of environmental management based upon micro-economic theory. One must accept that it is possible for market approaches to provide solutions to our current environmental problems in order for this work to be plausible.