Greenthinker Gifts: Adbusters' The Big Ideas of 2006
A worthwhile read over the holidays is Adbusters’ The Big Ideas of 2006 special year-end issue. Amongst numerous essays discussions on media + culture, business, science + technology, politics, and art + life are some pieces of note on the environment:
Paul Ormerod’s discussion of Robert Neild’s hard-to-find book on the English, theFrench and their oyster industries is also especially enlightening.
Nield has loved oysters all his life. Shortly after he retired, on a long vacation in France, a question occurred to him. Oysters are plentiful in France, with 2 billion a year being produced, yet scarce and expensive in England, which produces just 10 million. Why? Nield knew that this was not always the case – in the mid-nineteenth century oysters had been in such abundance in Britain that they were an important part of the diet of the Victorian poor. Why had that changed? His research took him deep into the intersection between economics and the environment. He determined that oysters all but disappeared in England because the disastrous laissez faire policies of nineteenth-century British governments allowed them to be harvested almost to extinction. Conversely, in France the extraction and conservation of this valuable natural resource was carefully regulated and controlled. Nield’s entertaining book – if you really want to know how to open an oyster this is for you – illustrates the usefulness of thoughtful, real world economics when applied to environmental problems.
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