The Natural Resources are natural. By their very definition they are not man-made, and are therefore not inherently associated with or attributable to any individual. But people need to use natural resources for food, shelter, raw materials and recreation, and must therefore make claims upon resources which do not naturally and inherently belong to them. Thus it is clear that rights to the use of natural resources must be created or apportioned.
Various solutions have been found and practiced through the ages: the law may leave individuals to fight out claims amongst themselves, perhaps with a resulting tenure by a few influential families; the law may attempt a fair and productive apportionment; or the State (or dictator or monarch) may take total resources ownership into its own hands.
In the older nations of Europe, the king claimed ownership of all the lands within his kingdom, awarding lands and titles to those whose financial support enabled him to build castles, enhance his royal lifestyle and fight foreign wars.
In the New World, colonial governments assumed overall title to all land and natural resources, then gave much of it away, in plots to those who would settle and farm, or in large tracts to the railroad barons.
Once initial titles of ownership had, by whatever wild, devious or bloody means been established, these rights could then in the free market tradition be transferred from one user to another by the market mechanism, whereby a current user sells to the highest bidder. "Ownership" was virtually absolute. If you owned a piece of land, you did what you liked with it or on it or to it.
As population densities grew, as people became more urbanized requiring higher standards of urban coordination, and as the perceptions of good social behavior and environmental awareness developed, social qualifications on land and resources use increased.
While many still cling to the historical concept of once-and-for-all distribution of land and resources with unqualified ownership and free market transfer, in reality this view is rapidly losing ground in favor of a more community-, more environmentally- oriented approach involving an on-going assessment of uses and their appropriateness both to changing demands and to evolving perceptions of how we should treat our environment. We need to establish new principles, guidelines and indeed attitudes relating to and regulating the use of the natural resources, to replace the complex and often self-contradictory systems presently in place and to provide more positive direction leading in turn to more respectful, less wasteful and destructive utilization.
The Natural Resources are natural - they are not the product of human creativity or labor, and are therefore not naturally attributable to any individuals as inherently "private property". However we all have a need to use natural resources to some extent or other, and from this need we induce that we have a right to do so. The duty of government is to ensure that proposed uses are not conflicting with, or disproportional or detrimental to, other competing uses and users. Additionally, with today's more enlightened views, we would also expect government to ensure that any and all uses are appropriately respectful of the environment itself, and in terms of husbanding resources for future users.
This in turn requires a much greater degree of commitment on the part of government than has hitherto been the case. It is necessary first to identify land suitable for different uses such as agriculture, recreation, habitation and so on, so that these areas can be earmarked and preserved for those specific purposes. The usage of land for residential and commercial development involves solid structures which cannot readily be moved or eliminated; their location and planning thus requires forethought so that the necessary movement of goods and people between them can be properly provided for.
Anticipation is particularly important in resources-use. It is vital that we should look ahead, taking all actual and anticipated needs into consideration, looking at the effects of what we plan to do before we do it. Much of our land-use today fails to foresee consequences. We plan suburban developments without considering transport, we develop areas of scenic beauty before we realize that we are spoiling the irreplaceable, we satisfy present needs while causing long-term environmental damage or imbalances. Anticipation is vital in resources-use; for once homes and freeways are built, once old-growth trees have been cut, once a chain of environmental imbalance has been set in motion... these physical impacts are difficult if not impossible to un-do or reverse.
If resources are to be productively and respectfully used, serious planning is required, based on detailed and accurate information of resources availability and anticipated requirements. This entails three distinct processes:
first, as a working foundation, the formulation of an overall Land Plan based on a full inventory of natural resources;
second, estimates of current and future demands;
and third the institution of a Resources-use Forum in which availability can to the best extent possible be reconciled with actual and anticipated demands.
Land has its own inherent potentialities. Certain areas may offer excellent agricultural soil while others offer significant mineral deposits. Some areas are outstanding in natural beauty, while certain forest or river systems make their own demands for special treatment on ecological grounds. Clearly government cannot fulfil its role as adjudicator unless and until it is fully informed as to the detailed nature of the nation's or region's total natural resources.
The Inventory of Availability would take the form of a national map on which every kind of resource is clearly indicated. The duty of those concerned with the provision of Availability Data must be to provide a detailed, continuously updated – and publicly accessible – inventory showing the location, extent and nature of all resources.
The second stage requires the preparation of an ongoing assessment of demands upon the resources both current and anticipated, based on a thorough and fundamental analysis of demographic trends and movements.
As a basis the analysis begins objectively by looking at the size of populations and their broad, predictable needs for urban living, trade and cultural facilities, agriculture, minerals, recreation and retreat. Individuals and special-interest groups as "consumers" will then fill out the picture with additional needs and ideas such as wilderness homes or specific recreation facilities.
The two banks of Resources Data: the Availability Inventory, and the Assessment of actual and anticipated Demands, can then be coordinated by a Natural Resources and Land-use Forum to produce an overall ongoing National Resources Plan.
On this basis, clear guidelines can be established for such broad national and regional uses as major agricultural needs, recreation, mining, transport and urban development.
The Land-use Forum should have its purpose and procedures clearly set out in its own Articles of Constitution. Its members should represent every aspect of land and resources use; its deliberations, as well as the data on which they are based, must be open at all times to public scrutiny and input. Its object is an ongoing National Land plan, representing the continuing definition of zoning and planning guidelines and restrictions at regional level, from which local-level plans can then be made.
The total planning process must expect to give equal consideration to the specific needs of the environment as a living entity. We need to use the natural resources, certainly. But we must do so within the limitations of environmental responsibility, and we must give back the equivalent of what we take through our stewardship and enhancement of our environment.
Some environmental objectives might be listed as follows: zero land/water/air pollution; zero garbage, requiring a determined effort to eliminate garbage at source, for example through recycling and increased use of reusable containers; phase-out of factory farming and pesticides, promotion of organic farming; identification and protection of all significant natural ecosystems and major wildlife habitats.
It will also be necessary to undertake a fundamental revision of our community-development strategies, in order to build new residential and commercial developments using a far smaller footprint. A Mediterranean hilltown offers its fortunate residents terraces and gardens with unrestricted views, as access is behind the dwellings, and the slope affords everyone a view. If we were to build our towns and cities as artificial hills, with homes on the outside and access behind, with all the urban amenities located inside the artificial hill, the whole planted on the outside and sculpted to mold in with surrounding scenery as naturally as possible, every resident would have an uninterrupted view, a garden terrace open to the sky, and complete tranquility, yet with urban amenities a few steps away – and without any need for transportation save for elevators. New concepts in community living such as this can reduce our demand for land in terms of housing, commerce and transportation, thus leaving more for recreation and unspoiled wilderness while providing a hitherto unrealized standard of living environment.
The process thus visualized is not the unregulated free market, nor is it total State control. Rather, it is a process of consultation falling between the two. It is based on the recognition of certain basic, indisputable facts: the resources are natural, we need to use them, and we should do so in a manner reflecting responsibility, custodianship, respect, and mutual sharing. Decisions should be based on objective data providing accurate information on availability and informed estimates of present and future needs, the ongoing plans formulated with the widest possible input. It is our human responsibility, as the life form with what would appear to be the highest form of intelligence, to use the Planet's resources wisely and responsibly, minimizing waste, providing for as many needs as possible, and reaching decisions in the common interest with the minimum of misinformation and acrimony.
Urban Planning and Transport
Homes, jobs, shops, agriculture, leisure facilities, all of these and the many other needs of a civilized society are part of what may be called community, and transport, be it individual or shared, is the vital link which holds together the community's component elements. Random development of individual elements without a proper consideration of their relationship to the whole will not create communities that work, as past policies have clearly proved.
A thorough analysis of the nature and demands of a community can assist in formulating plans and policies which will produce pleasant, functioning communities, their component parts of residential neighborhoods, shops, workplaces and professional services interconnected by a fast, convenient, cost-effective and non-pollutive transportation system for goods and people.
What is a community? The word is derived from two elements: con meaning with or together, and munity which comes from the Latin munire meaning to fortify. The word community means literally to fortify together. How did this meaning come about?
People lived their private, scattered lives in small villages, farms and remote small holdings. But in times of danger they could come together in the town or city for the purpose of mutual defense. All the old towns and cities of Britain and Europe had their stockades or walls, and many of these old city walls with their massive gateways remain intact today. In those medieval times the community was a place in which people came together for mutual defense and protection. Community. Con munire. To fortify, together.
As time passed, the need to fortify became less important. Towns and cities let their old walls and gates fall into ruin. In 1848 Vienna demolished its entire fortification complex of walls and gates and replaced them with the Ring Strasse, a treed boulevard encircling the city lined with fine cultural, administrative and commercial buildings.
This was the new city: a city in which people came together not for defense, but for commerce, trade and culture. The need to fortify is gone. But the con, the together aspect remains, reflecting one of the most fundamental facts of human nature: that a person has two sides, a personal individual side, and a social side.
People want to have a quiet home, a place where they can retire and be themselves. But they also want to come together in order to do those things they can only do as a group: to manufacture and to shop, to use and to enjoy libraries, exhibitions and concerts. That is the modern Vienna, and that is the purpose of the modern community: a place where people can live as separate individuals, yet come together to do those things they can only do as a group.
These two basic needs, for individual privacy, peace and quiet on the one hand, and for social inter-activity on the other, define the nature and purpose of the community. In its simplest, most easily demonstrable form, it represents a wheel, its spokes linking the circumference with the center hub. Around the outside, people live in isolated homes or small village neighborhoods in quiet countryside, or perhaps around the perimeters of small towns or larger cities. They come together to the town or city center, for purposes of joint social, commercial and cultural activity, along lines of movement like the spokes of a wheel. A theoretical pattern of outer habitation and central communal facilities, with radial interlinking movement is thus established.