International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

Saving the Planet, Saving Species | November 25, 2008

Posted By: Chuck Thompson, Executive Director/General Counsel, IMLA

While riding the Washington Metro, I noticed an ad that seeks to garner support from the denizens of the bowels of our nation’s capital to press for limits on overfishing.  According to a number of experts, overfishing is a significant environmental and ecological problem for our planet.  Google the term and you’ll get an idea of you significant and pervasive the problem is.  For example, check out: http://overfishing.org .

As I thought about the ad, I seemed to recall a recent article I had read about the problem as applied to fishing fleets in the north east and as applied to cod.  I can’t remember all of the details, but the gist of the story hinted at the likelihood that whole fisheries were lost.  Of course, one of the more difficult problems in dealing with overfishing as compared with noticing that between 1860 and 1880 almost all of the buffalo in the United States were eliminated by over-hunting rests in the murky deep that hides the extent of the overfishing.  People noticed the decline of the buffalo – of course, that didn’t help much; but, people cruising the seas don’t really notice how many fewer fish of each species are swimming along with them.

With the development of the Internet and computer access, should we consider using the technology to organize, identify and link consumer demand with development of supply.  For example, a consumer could order fish, beef, lamb, or chicken through a computer linked to suppliers who would be able to coordinate the demand with supply and reduce over-supply.  Even produce could be coordinated in such a way that deliveries could be coordinated and over-supply from production diverted to areas of the country or world where the demand could be met with an appropriate supply, or diverted to canning. 

With some planning, even restaurants might be able to develop a better idea of how to supply their customers’ demands by offering discounted menu options if ordered in advance.  Room for spontaneity could still exist, but for those who aren’t that risky, a meal ordered in advance would reduce the waste from restaurant over-ordering.  For the most part, well run restaurants are the least of the problem, as they already do a pretty good job of ordering based on their need and experience.  On the other hand, many groceries seem to thrive on impulse buying.  They too have an incentive to limit waste through appropriate buying practices and close monitoring of buying habits, yet finding ways to reduce their exposure to over-ordering through Internet grocery shopping might reduce costs and waste and provide other cost savings for shoppers and the grocers.  Similarly, well coordinated food shopping with providing the supply could divert instances of over-supply to areas of the world that are under served.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.

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