Creating Use Interests in Natural Resources
This chapter discusses how resource use initially dominated the creation of first-generation legal rights, including laws that were eventually adopted to curb resource use in order to conserve natural resources for future use. During the twentieth century, the world's total urban population grew 13-fold, and its industrial output increased roughly 40-fold. The world's population and its industrial base needed natural resources. These resources were extracted, developed, depleted, and otherwise used at an unprecedented rate. The resulting accelerated exploitation of natural resources began to exhaust, or make unsustainable, stock and renewable commodity resources. When humans realized that stock and even renewable resources necessary for twentieth-century human societies were being exhausted, with no easy substitutes available, so-called “conservation laws” were enacted, which restricted otherwise unlimited use in order to perpetrate future use. In other words, we sought to address the first consequence of overuse by adopting laws requiring some conservation of the resource base so that future use was not impaired.
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