Posted in Easier said than done

Reasoned skepticism in Natural Resource Management

Wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true no matter how hard you believe it. Something else, just because something feels right, it doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. Sustainable environmental management especially the natural resources management needs more than desire and intuition. We need a reasoned skepticism to understand and manage the environment. We need to go against emotions and feelings. We need science to make evidence based decisions. Do we always see the big picture when we make intuitive decisions? Think about pest control. If you kill a pest when you see it, you think you are making a difference. But by killing one pest, you are creating an enabling environment for the other pests to multiply because they have more resources when one or few of them dies. It is not how you think. It is more than that. It is how you make decisions and implement them when you are not controlled by feelings and intuitions.

We trust politicians to make decisions on effective allocation and use of natural resources but do they always look for evidence? If not, then what kind of decisions do they make: intuitive or evidence-based? There is no absolute knowledge. Even Science can only give provisional knowledge but never will we have 100% evidence but in natural resource management, even two percent knowledge based evidence is better than one percent if we are open to acknowledging that what makes it better is the intention and not obligation. So the next time you fill that survey form that will be used in decision making, do not let your feelings interfere. The next time you chair that board meeting ask for evidence, knowledge. The next time you take a “green” action, ask yourself if it is really “green”

To take care of our environment and especially the scarce natural resources that we all depend on, we need to know about our planet because it is our home. The only home we have.

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Posted in Easier said than done, Kenya my country

Climate change: Benefits now or in a 100 years?

No doubt, climate change is a global issue. We need to protect the environment if sustainable development and intergenerational equity is anything to go by. I am thinking about Kyoto Protocol and why no country seems to be reaching the set targets. Is it because the benefits are not convincing enough or is it because public support for carbon taxing is not there?

The Costs of Kyoto protocol compliance in one year are sufficient to provide the world’s population with clean drinking water. Coming from a country where drinking water is literally life or death depending on quality, I see what Bjorn Lomberg is talking about.

According to Bjorn, postponement of climate change impacts by four years in over 100 years is what complying will get us. Is 4 years in a hundred years worth it? Using the current discount rate I would say no. I am thinking about access to water and improved sanitation for the slum populations in Africa, in Kenya, I am thinking about the fight against malaria, HIV/Aids, reproductive health and education. That is what is on top of my priority list.

Being an environmental economists is not easy. Even harder when you come from a developing country where getting through today is not guaranteed leave alone a 100 years.