An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Terry Anderson on the Environment and Property Rights

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Terry Anderson on the Environment and Property Rights and consider these questions.

1. Why does Anderson argue that the term “externality” should be expunged from our vocabulary? To what extent do you agree with him?

2. What is “Free Market Environmentalism,” and how does it envision the relationship between the state and the natural environment?

3. What does Anderson mean when he calls Ronald Coase a “causal agnostic,” and how does this relate to the story of wolves in Yellowstone National Park?

4. What does “price discrimination” mean, and how does Anderson suggest it might be employed in national parks? How successful do you think this strategy would be? Why?

5. Anderson talks about the impact of the invention of barbed wire on the American West. What does this story suggest about the role of technology generally in defining and enforcing property rights? What other examples can you come up with to illustrate?

6. What are “enviropreneurs,” and what role can they play in helping the environment, according to Anderson?

7. In discussing his work with ecologist Daniel Botkin on forest fires, Anderson quotes, “The environment is not a Kodachrome still life. It’s a moving picture show.” What does he mean by this, and what does it suggest about the way forest fires have been handled in recent decades?

8. What are the biggest limitations to the FME approach, according to Anderson? Are there any he misses? To what extent are they compensated for by FME’s strengths?