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Date: 2024-02-22 Page is: DBtxt001.php L0700-SS-LAND

Exploitation of land is as old as humankind

Ownership of Land GO TOP
Throughout history ownership of land has been a source of wealth
This is the background to the association of wealth with the 'landed gentry' of the not so distant past ... and to some extent today.
Owners of land have been ... and are ... able to exploit their land in order to create financial wealth. This is what farmers do ...and it is a very important part of how the economy ... that is the socio-enviro-economic system ... works.

Trusteeship of Land GO TOP
Many indigenous communities embrace the land as a trusteeship
Many indigenous communities embrace the land as a trusteeship recognising that the land had value to their ancestors and that it should be treated with respect ... and indeed reverence ... so that it can be passed on to future generations in prime condition.
This is a very different socio-enviro-economic model than the one that is now associated with modern industrial economies that exploit everything including the land to generate financial wealth as fast as possible without taking much account for future consequences.
The letter written by Chief Seattle to the President of the United States (see link below) concerning the purchase of land by the United States from the Native Americans in 1852 sets out very clearly the different mindset of the US leadership (essentially colonial expansionists) and the indigenous people.
Modern environmentalists have now learned some of the wisdom that was well understood by Chief Seattle almost 200 years ago, and is quite well understood my modern indigenous people. The good news is that more and more people who have power and influence in the modern world are starting also to understand and embrace the idea that land and all of nature has immense value and should be handled responsibly. Open L0700-CS-NC-NATURAL-CAPITAL#Chief-Seattle

Profiteering from Land Ownership GO TOP
Converting land ownership wealth into financial wealth
For most of the last 200 years the dominant goal in (Western) society has been to become more and more financially wealthy ... success has been measured more than anything else, how how much financial wealth one has accumulated.
In the United States there is a lot of land, and compared to Europe, a relatively low population. Though the land in the United States had enormous natural capital value, its financial value was quite low. Accordingly owners of this land exploited it to the maximum in order to generate financial wealth.
Farming in the USA has been optimized for profit for a very long time. This did not go well for farmers in Oklahoma in the 1920s/30s when maximizing for profit without paying attention to natural issues produced a 'dust bowl'. In more recent times, the widespread practice of monoculture and intensive user of chemical fertilisers and insecticides is optimizing for profit while degrading the soils and polluting the water in a costly and unsustainable way.
Property development
Another way to optimize land use for profit is to engage in property development ... that is building houses on the land. The best way to maximize for profit is to create a sub-division that enables the maximum number of houses to be built. All sorts of gimicks are possible to attract buyers. many of which have modest cost and do little for long term quality of life. Typically the developer is able to profit mightily ... and many go on to use the technique over and over again. In the end the developer is rich, but many people who buy into these developments learn that the developments have not been designed to be livable communities but merely profitable development ventures.
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Land Value Optimizing GO TOP
More than optimizing for financial value
Land has many uses that are not 'valued' in the conventional economic and financial metrics
Storm protection / barrier islands
The oceans are very powerful ... but barrier islands work to absorb the power of the ocean during a storm in ways that protect the land, and have slowed erosion significantly. Exploiting barrier islands to build 'ocean front' properties is a quick way to financial value destruction.
Water purification
Water is purified naturally when it passes through soil and stands in wetlands ... the processes are complex, and a surprising amount of nasty chemical compounds are rendered safe by a myriad of natural biological processes ... but it takes time and a lot of space. Far too many 'developments' have been constructed on natural waste land without understanding the immense value that these lands have in maintaining a biologically healthy world. The idea that New York City could dump all its waste into the wetlands of nearby New Jersey ... the Meadowlands ... shows how little city officials understood of the value of natural capital and natural processes. This land was no good for building development, therefore it was 'no good'. This particular land fill operation stopped a couple of decades ago ... but land fill is still going on in other less visible places.
Mangrove / wetlands
A very important part of the natural world ... and essential breeding ground for a large part of the species that live their lives in the oceans
Tropical Forest
Tropical forest is an essential part of a healthy planet ... the tropical forest around the Amazon in South America and the tropical forest around the Congo river in Africa serve as the lungs of planet earth, removing massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In recent years there are two trends that are destabilizing the climate system (1) the massive increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by industry, agriculture and transport operations; and, (2) a massive amount of deforestation caused by land clearing mainly to expand agricultural production. There is also a considerable amount of unsustainable logging in these forests.
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