Not Enough Earth For Everybody?
Great Ape Habitat In Africa Has Dramatically Declined
Some huge swathes of pristine forest remain, but it is no longer suitable for great apes due to the extensive hunting that occurs within to supply the trade in bushmeat. Can humans find economic alternatives to slaughter? This 2012 article is from the BBC, Spt 28.
by Matt WalkerGreat apes, such as gorillas, chimps and bonobos, are running out of places to live, say scientists.
They have recorded a dramatic decline in the amount of habitat suitable for great apes, according to the first such survey across the African continent.
Eastern gorillas, the largest living primate, have lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s.
Cross River gorillas, chimps and bonobos have also suffered significant losses, according to the study.
Details are published in the journal Diversity and Distributions.
In future studies, including socioeconomic data may help explain why apes still live in close proximity to people in some areas, while in most others they have disappeared.
"The situation is very dramatic, many of the ape populations we still find today will disappear in the near future," Dr Kuehl told BBC Nature. "In an increasingly crowding world with demand for space, wood, mineral resources, and meat, apes will continue to disappear.
To read more
JJS: When humans want and need stuff, they grab it, heedless of the consequences. While it would do some good to hire game wardens to patrol jungles, it’d probably do much more good to find other ways to supply the goods that humans demand, find alternatives to ape meat, timber, and other facets of nature that people desire. It might also help to slow population growth, but that happens automatically where people prosper.
There already are alternatives to our ravaging of jungles, such as raising chickens (which millennia ago were the original jungle fowl served up for dinner) instead of hunting apes, and recycling wood and paper instead of logging trees, and recycling tin cans and metal appliances instead of mining virgin ore. The question is, why don’t people now use such alternatives? The answer is almost always the same: wasting the world is cheaper than conserving it.
Next question: why isn’t efficiency cheaper than waste? Answer: revenue policy. Governments tend to tax what they shouldn’t, such as wages, and not tax what they should, such as land and resources. Further, governments tend to subsidize what they shouldn’t, such as mining, and not share public revenue with whom they should -- the public. Such an inverse revenue policy makes it cheaper to squander resources rather than to steward them.
Obviously, governments should shift subsidies from special interests to the general populace and shift taxes off what people make -- buildings and businesses -- and onto what people take -- land and resources. By doing that, government would end up charging landowners the annual rental value of locations, which is the most powerful medicine an economy could take. Having to pay “land dues”, owners would use no more land than they need, leaving enough for others so newcomers don’t have to expand into jungles, and they’d treat what they take benignly, because they’d feel pride in ownership and constantly moving would become too expensive.
Indeed, every place that has used this geonomic recipe has prospered, and has developed a large middle class who are the source of environmentalists. One place that taxed land -- Taiwan -- cut its population growth rate 40% in 20 years. Wherever tried and to the degree tried, geonomics has always worked, a claim no other reform can make. Africans could use geonomics to make room for both humans and apes. If you love nature, there really is not any time to waste, just as there is no land to waste.
If you'd like to know more about geonomics and will be in London, check out "Let the Beneficiaries Pay": OMEGA seminar, October 10th, UCL. To read more on LandValueScape.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .
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