We do not own the earth, we belong to it. We have the responsibility to care for it.
For humanity’s and the planet’s future we human communities need to regain our membership of the land.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect (Aldo Leopold 1948/1976: viii).
Humanity needs to make a transition to a world economy that enables and ennobles us humans to take care of this world. This transition will enable a fair exchange of materials, ecologies, cultures and people; It will enable dignified treatment of all people and all parts of this planet.
We all have the right to secure tenancy of a fair share of the earth.
Everybody needs land to survive and flourish.
The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air — it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right (Henry George 1879/ Book VII Chapter 1).
Some land is best managed by sharing its use, either in common by a group of commoners or collectively by an elected authority.
But much land, for example that used for homes or for cultivation, requires the steward to have a secure tenancy that enables them to establish boundaries to exclude other people from living or cultivating there.
This tenancy is a use-right not absolute ownership.
… the iron chest of cursed Covetousness, Who gives the Earth to some part of mankind, and denies it to another part of mankind: and that part that hath the Earth, hath no right from the Law of creation to take it to himself, and shut out others; but he took it away violently by Theft and Murder in Conquest … (Gerard Winstanley 1650).
Everybody has an equal right to benefit from the natural world, so we have a duty to compensate others for this tenancy.
If we exclude other people from the land to which we belong, and from the wealth and abundance it provides, we have a duty to compensate them by paying our dues.
I want to feel secure in a dignified and respectful relationship with all of you who are excluded from this land by my tenure of it. I know my security will only be achieved when you are secure. You need full compensation so that my boundaries can be seen to show hospitality (Jonty Williams 2014:16).
Like any tenant we need to pay the market rent for this land. Unlike rent paid to a landlord, this rent is to be paid in to a fund to be used for the benefit of all people and the whole planet.
We need to pay attention to, and to pay, our dues for the planet’s support.
George, Henry (1979) Progress and poverty San Franciso, Wm M Hinton
Leopold, Aldo (1948/1976) A Sand County Almanac Oxford, Oxford University Press
Williams, Jonty (2014) Husbandry: an ancient art for the modern world Lulu (free pdf at www.husbandry.co.uk/downloads)
Winstanley, Gerard (1650) A new-yeer’s gift for the parliament and armie London, Giles Calvert