Trading One Crane for Another

Coco notes Sandhill cranes in a field destined to become a subdivision, and fights back bile:

Sandhill cranes on a field that will soon be chopped up for sale because: you can’t do agriculture on land worth that much.

I note the economic disincentives standing in the cranes’ way (the externality of a public good stacked against private costs and benefits, a situation we’ve not been terribly good at handling – see climate), and ask Coco for suggested paths forward through the current political and policy maze. I benefit from the cranes’ presence, at zero cost to me. In a Kunstlerian future, I also might benefit from the food. Though the economics of that is a bit trickier, and it’s more likely that in the Long Emergency, I’m just fucked. But even in the short run, we all get the benefit, and Farmer Brown pays the costs in the form of the opportunity cost of all that subdivision land value lost. How do we compensate Farmer Brown and keep the birds?


  1. “How do we compensate Farmer Brown and keep the birds?”

    Put more broadly, how do we compensate all humans for any changes they may need to make in order to achieve and maintain an acceptable environment for all?

    I think the answer suggests itself. The sooner the Farmer Browns of the world have to face up to the ‘orrible reality of continuing to farm rather than plant the proverbial “last crop” of houses so as to finance a plush retirement that the farming itself could never pay for, the better.

  2. Steve –

    Coco’s house is also on that lovely bottomland. If we decide it also should be used for farming, and birds, should she be compensated when we tear it down? If yes, how, and why not Farmer Brown?

Comments are closed.