The Atmosphere and Private Property

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The Atmosphere and Private Property

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:46 pm

The Atmosphere and Private Property

I'd like to ask a ridiculous question: Is the air private property? Who owns it?
No one. Better yet, everyone.

In any case, do you buy the air above your property when you buy land? Of course not.
Then you do not own the air resting on your property! In fact, no one does.
Then you should not contaminate it in any way, for it belongs to everyone!

The wind will guarantee that the actual air above your property at this moment will not
stay there long. Even with no wind, airborne pollution tends to effuse for great distances.

Suppose (hypothetically!) you were to intentionally release, on your own private property,
a fair quantity of a toxic gas, perhaps hydrogen sulfide, or ammonia. Not only is the gas
not going to confine itself to your backyard, the police would be there within minutes.
In fact, Homeland Security would be there, and you would be arrested as a terrorist
(for releasing chemical weapons)!

If you think about it, just how much difference is there from a chemical weapon (which kills
quickly) and smoke (which kills slowly). The only real difference is the time parameter.
Take away that, and there really is little difference. Both cause sickness and death; one
poison works rapidly, the other, gradually. Why then should someone be legally allowed
to maintain a smoking, polluting chimney?

If you can figure out a way to confine the air above your property to your own property line
(such as a large plastic bubble all around your polluting house) then go ahead, generate
as much smoke as you wish. Make sure none of it leaks out and poisons anyone.

America needs a Constitutional Amendment declaring that everyone has a right to clean air,
water, and land (littering and dumping). Too bad the Founding Fathers did not think of this
long ago. Our nation's life expectancy may have been much longer than it actually is today,
had we been more concerned about environmental issues, early on.
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