Thursday, April 08, 2010

From the Archive: An "interesting" view of natural capital

From another old blog post:

General Counsel for the Department of Defense, William Haynes II resigned yesterday. Haynes was in charge of the tribunals for Guantanamo detainees and is reported to have said:

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals. We've got to have convictions.'"

Furthermore, he's one of the primary authors of memos supporting torture and total executive authority (essentially arguing that when the President is acting as Commander-in-Chief he get's to do whatever he wants -- regardless of the law).

But before he got around to torture and detainees Haynes offered a very interesting argument about how bombing natural capital (bird nesting sites) was good because it would increase the value of the remaining natural capital:
In this amazing brief, Haynes argued that bombing a nesting site for migratory birds would benefit birdwatchers, since “bird watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one.” Moreover, he added, the birds would benefit as well, since using their nests as a bombing range would minimize “human intrusion”. The judge’s comment on this novel line of argument: “there is absolutely no support in the law for the view that environmentalists should get enjoyment out of the destruction of natural resources because that destruction makes the remaining resources more scarce and therefore more valuable. The Court hopes that the federal government will refrain from making or adopting such frivolous arguments in the future.” (pp. 27-8)” ...

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