plastic and styrofoam ban

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Environmentalism and
Economic Freedom: The Case for Private Property Rights1

I. Introduction
This paper shall attempt to reconcile environmentalism and economic freedom.
Before making this seemingly quixotic endeavor, we must be sure we are clear on both concepts. Environmentalism may be non controversially defined as a philosophy which sees great benefit in clean air and water, and to a lowered rate of species extinction. Environmentalists are particularly concerned with the survival and enhancement of endangered species such as trees, elephants, rhinos and whales, and with noise and dust pollution, oil spills, greenhouse effects and the dissipation of the ozone layer. Note, this version of environmentalism is a very moderate one. Moreover, it is purely goal directed. It implies no means to these ends whatsoever. In this perspective, environmentalism is, in principle, as much compatible with free enterprise as it is with its polar opposite, centralized governmental command and control.
Economic freedom also admits of a straightforward definition. It is the idea that people legitimately own themselves and the property they
“capture” from nature by homesteading,2 as well as the additional property they attain, further, by trading either their labor or their legitimately owned possessions.3 Sometimes called libertarianism, in this view the only improper human activity is the initiation of threat or force against another or his property. This, too, is the only legitimate reason for law. To prevent murder, theft, rape, trespass, fraud, arson, etc., and all other such invasions is the only proper function of legal enactments.
At first glance the relationship between environmentalism and freedom would appear direct

Walter Block

and straightforward: an increase in the one leads to a decrease in the other, and vice versa. And, indeed, there is strong evidence for an inverse relationship between the two.
For example, there is the



References: Mises, Ludwig von: 1969, Socialism (Liberty Fund, 1981, Indianapolis). Vancouver), 1990.

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