Natural Resource Use

There is more to Land than just land. In economic terms, Land includes such things as radio spectrum, mineral rights, water rights and fishing rights. By opening up more territory in these areas, or finding substitutes, we can reduce the power of those who hold these rights. Consider these examples.

The Internet has provided a powerful substitute for the limits of broadcast spectrum. The result has been an incredible boost in competition to the big media empires. This boost was made available for two reasons: 1. multiple cables can carry different information while using the same frequency bands, unlike radio broadcasts; 2. light fiber has tremendous bandwidth compared to the radio spectrum.

Cable television has also helped to break up the power of the major television networks. It is still dominated by media empires, but at least there are more of them. Like the Internet, cable allows the reuse of spectrum without interference.

Nuclear power could be used to put a hurting on the world’s oil millionaires. And with the use of breeder technology, we could run for centuries without even mining any more uranium. Also, with breeder technology, we could make a lot of bombs, so maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Bummer.

Better solar technology: If someone could come up with a significantly cheaper and more efficient solar cell, the result would be extremely progressive economically as well as good for the environment. Alas, success is not guaranteed here.

Better broadcast technology could break up some of the broadcast media empires. If the FCC were to license radio broadcast stations using error correction technology more advanced than FM, we could have more competition on our car radios. And why don’t we take some of that unused UHF television spectrum and create a new radio broadcast band? [since done. This article was written in 2003]

Water recycling: The environmental movement has lobbied successfully for low flush toilets that don’t really do the job. Is this really necessary? It is not as if the water is destroyed by flushing. Why not reuse the water for irrigation? I can understand not spraying it on food crops, but how about for drip irrigation? Or for non-food crops like cotton and hemp? The beauty is that we don’t need to remove the nitrates, since they make for free fertilizer. We could even go back to using phosphates in laundry detergent.

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