Wednesday, 19 June 2013

UN millennium ecosystem assessment Response

My response to the MEAB's Key Steps  to Reduce the Degradation of Ecosystem Services

To all who made the Ecosystem Assessment possible

As a retired farmer who owned and ran a large scale glasshouse strawberry enterprise in Essex England, supplying local shops, market traders, and the large supermarket chains, with high value out of season product to the consumer, and being involved in the decisions of how to grow crops in a sustainable and ethical way was very demanding if you stand from the moral high ground.
To me farming is my love and life, with all the ups and downs of how plants grow prosper and yield lovely fruits for us all to enjoy, It is this together with my skills as an entrepreneur businessman, that made my business very successful and the company remains in the forefront to this day under new ownership, That gave me the vision and ideas I have arrived at since retirement.
My four children, who are very supportive along with my wife who helped through all the years of establishing and running a highly profitable business made me realise then and even more now that I could not have achieved without the full cooperation of nature, and natural resources we are all dependant on and of course my fellow workers who were really all equal to me, as I certainly would not have been able to achieve without them and an understanding bank to enable it all to happen.
My Belief in human nature is positive , otherwise we might as well give up now, but the challenges that confront us are so huge, that I feel I have to intervene as no one appears to be talking about the real environmental economic situation, , we have finance ministers meetings, and we have COP, but they never look at each other’s agendas and talk, The environment issues can only be controlled by bi lateral meetings of all departments, especially finance and economics, with the understanding of each other’s needs.
I arrived at proposing a NATURAL RESOURCE TAX after several years of study at why we fail to achieve our aims, and arrived at a point, that we do not look at the picture from afar. Instead we are looking at solving immediate problems, and relying on historical methodology to determine our ways of running society. To me, civilizations have failed due mainly to bureaucracy and not enough workers; we seem to be approaching this scenario fast globally with high unemployment, and institutions and political leaders talking the talk but with little effect. What seems to be happening is that individuals feel the need to be involved as no one expert has the answers to the many insoluble crisis we are enduring and facing.
This idea of an NRT taxation system needs to be studied and evaluated to see if it has real credibility, but to my eyes  reducing bureaucracy, enabling simpler systems to be employed and making the whole process transparent, equal and equitable to all , is goal worth fighting for, what other choices offer so much?

My response to your key steps  coloured green 

What Can We Do about It? Some Key Steps
Available to Reduce the Degradation of
Ecosystem Services
The Fundamental change required is an understanding by all in society that we have finite resources and the extraction and use of them causes irreparable damage to the environment despite anyone’s individual efforts to help the situation. It is the case that we are now all totally inter-dependant on each other for all our needs of life, from food and shelter to art and culture, all aspects of life have this dependency on each other.
The dependency  demands that we should all act in unison in a responsible way and have respect for each other’s decisions and actions, but at present we all live in a real world where everyone makes decision just for themselves and it is this that will be the hardest part to change to include the rest of society in the equation also.
It is for that reason and to save the planet from self destruction, that we need to act fast and make everyone equally responsible for their actions, and by replacing all existing taxes with a single tax on all natural resources (NRT) will help equalise all aspects of environmental damage caused by all sectors of society, businesses and individuals alike no one would be exempt.
Two other remedies needs to be put in place alongside this, a
1.       A death tax to help equalise wealth at the end of life, and help reduce excessive wealth build up by individuals and corporate entities
2.       Total reform of welfare to ensure the individual has responsibility for their own well being and I suggest a WAGE FOR LIFE that is put in place from leaving state education to death, and would replace all welfare and pension payments, thus making the individual responsible to take early preventative action , rather than late fire fighting action as happens at present. The individual would be responsible for maintaining enough money for there own welfare and there would be little other state monies available  with the exception of dire need and disabilities.
Change the economic background to decision-making
 Change the economic background to decision-making  can only  achieved with fundamental reform of financial institutions, banking is one but it’s prime aim is to enable the status quo and advance it with  growth. Taxation is the only mechanism we have in society to influence the way we all behave and at present it taxes labour heavily and resources lightly, so it is easier and cheaper to use excessive resources, this must be reversed to encourage employment and reduce resource use.
Change to another Tax base, based on NATURAL RESOURCES with tax collected from these based on the environmental damage they cause by their potential and actual use. I call this NRT
The existing tax system is corrupt and not built for the purpose of the Earths present and future demands, Taxation is the only tool Man has that is generally  acceptable and ensures people are incentivised to do the right , or wrong,  thing in their decision making process.
This fundamental change would change everyone’s behaviour and help to re-establish a fairer and equitable society as everyone would be treated equally without exception, all would pay the same taxes on everything.  The consumer is the polluter and they should pay equally for any damage they cause in the decisions they make on purchase of all goods and services.
This is a mindset change for all, for the benefit of all mankind and biospheres’…..
Make sure the value of all ecosystem services, not just those
bought and sold in the market, are taken into account when
making decisions.
This would inherently be a part of  the new NATURAL RESOURCED BASED SYSTEM  as everything that is designed, made and sold, would all be subject to purchasing the raw material or the finished product based on the raw materials used and the associated NRT tax paid for it use.
Remove subsidies to agriculture, fisheries, and energy that
cause harm to people and the environment.
 All subsidies and grants cause harm by creating a climate of increasing growth, however, they may be used for short-term help in areas of conversion and development of new ideas and technology.
Introduce payments to landowners in return for managing their
lands in ways that protect ecosystem services, such as water
quality and carbon storage, that are of value to society.
This should be introduced only to revert lands into a former state that will be held under perpetuity licence to keep and maintain the conversion in a state for long term benefit of ecosystems, and local population.
Establish market mechanisms to reduce nutrient releases and
carbon emissions in the most cost-effective way.
Improve policy, planning, and management.
Under NRT, the true environmental cost would be attached to each resource, Land, Minerals Air and Water. All would have tax associated with their use and how the activity and use, affects the environment. All in the chain of production from design to sale would have to make real economic decision based on the cost of the products with their associated  NRT.
Integrate decision-making between different departments and
sectors, as well as international institutions, to ensure that policies
are focused on protection of ecosystems.
This area would need finance and encouragement, along with a full revision of patent and copyright laws to prevent new ideas and technological developments from being stifled. Indeed we need to ensure that any new developments are taken as far as possible with some protection, but if it stumbles, it would then be released for anyone to try again. Integration of decision making, is one crucial area that has to be monitored carefully to ensure everyone has a fair and equitable chance of taking te ideas to the commercial phase to ensure a return on investment.
Include sound management of ecosystem services in all regional
planning decisions and in the poverty reduction strategies being
prepared by many developing countries.
 Under this NRT regime, there would be far less wastage of resources and everyone would be well aware of the consequences of their actions, by being hit hard in their pockets. New management tools would have to be developed to ensure that everyone had a fair and equitable chance to play an active part in the decision making process and that full democratic  process and diligence took place in implementing and maintenance of NRT
Empower marginalized groups to influence decisions affecting
ecosystem services and recognize in law local communities’
ownership of natural resources.
 Empowerment to groups has been one of the major problems in the world and has caused many disputes in the past, however that said, there should be a full responsibility of anyone using natural resources, that they are only a custodian for their lifetime and all resources are the collective responsibility of all in society. Local citizens have a special responsibility in resource management to ensure that they are not being trodden over and that their needs  are met, especially in terms of noise, pollution, landscape and enhancing their general and specific well being, with the collective responsibility of allocating and using those resources for benefit of all.
Establish additional protected areas, particularly in marine systems, and provide greater financial and management support to
those that already exist.
This would form part of a wholly integrated tax system that is fundamentally embedded in natural resources.
Use all relevant forms of knowledge and information about ecosystems in decision-making, including the knowledge of local and
indigenous groups.
Influence individual behaviour .
This principle of freedom to access all information from all sources and to be able to use these to speed up the development and commercialization of ideas and research is critical. To this end The NRT tax would not reduce the overall tax burden and any increase in revenue from savings made should be directed into research, economic prudence, and commercialization, with  mitigation of environmental  damage at its core.
Provide public education on why and how to reduce consumption of threatened ecosystem services.
Under NRT, all within society would all have  a concern that any use of any resource would have a consequence in their pocket,  Education in economics and would be explicitly linked with natural resource damage, and should form a fundamental part of any curriculum.
Establish reliable certification systems to give people the choice
to buy sustainably harvested products.
 Certification schemes mostly fail , in that they are usually industry led and are hard to police , Under NRT , this would be self regulating , in that higher priced goods and services would be visible and show that they have used more resources and or used resources that have highly bad effects on the environment.
Give people access to information about ecosystems and
decisions affecting their services.
Develop and use environment-friendly technology.
Again under NRT this would fundamental, as all purchases would have to explain why they are the price they are, so advertising would change in all recognition with encouragement from governments. The whole mind set would change, and new ethos’s developed in education at all levels, as the individual is dictating events as they do now, but with one change of what and how we all spend our money. Money and the way we spend it, as individuals and society as whole will dictate what happens to the planet, and civilization.  
Invest in agricultural science and technology aimed at increasing
food production with minimal harmful trade-offs. NRT would affect agriculture greatly in that all land would be treated as a natural resource and tax on the land would be assessed, based on the destruction of the land away from the natural form would assume if undisturbed, with the proviso that nature needs a helping hand with water supplies if it is to prosper and make a long term benefit to carbon sequestration. Abandoning land in the hope nature will sort the problem out is no solution now, and will not work fast enough.
Investment must Agriculture must be to encourage macro and micro diversity within the cropping fields and to increase carbon sequestration, to this end there has to be a taxation stick and an investment reward, so taxation of heavily mono-cropping with little bio flora and ability of carbon sequestration, and less tax for sustainable cropping with high biodiversity and high carbon levels.
Any direct investment would be aimed at R&D and investment in farmers support structures of education and management techniques, Ant direct investment in agriculture  should be limited and short term  and aimed at the development of increasing biodiversity .
Conservation and protectionism are short term and no answer to long term development of the biosphere at large. They are like a zoo, they help endangered species from becoming extinct, but what need to happen is make new reserves, and eventually all lands under common or private ownership will be bio diverse and rich in species and abundance.
Restore degraded ecosystems. NRT would over time restore many habitats by incentivising all resource stakeholders to be far more environmentally aware of their actions and remedy quickly so as to remain competitive,  backed up with a full education program and economic understanding of resources.
Promote technologies to increase energy efficiency and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Under NRT, all technologies would be promoting a better outcome from resource use by sourcing cheaper alternatives which in turn automatically attract less NRT as a result of having less environmental impact. It would be in everyone’s interest to increase efficiency so as to reduce the end price; reduction of energy use would make the biggest impact quickly and has the highest return on ROI.

I hope you have gained an insight into my hopes and fears for the planet through this process and hope we can enable a new way of thing that you all suggest should happen

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