This paper reviews the meaning of carbon by applying five broad questions to this controversial substance: what is land; what is property; what is ownership; what is value; and what are property rights? By exploring each of these questions, we aim to show that a multidimensional and complex understanding is required for effective policy discussions to confront the challenge of global warming. We engage the perspective of a miner and an environmental activist to illustrate the tensions relating to carbon pollution in an era of climate change, and in so doing we offer a parable for our carbon constrained world. We conclude by considering the implications of property rights for carbon for polluters, governments, people as individuals with a right to breathe clean air, as well as the global commons and other species.
Keywords: Carbon, pollution, land, ownership, property rights, value
How to Cite:
Arvanitakis, J. & Boydell, S., (2010) “The miner and the activist: an Australian parable for our carbon constrained world”, Journal of Political Ecology 17(1), 59-67. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v17i1.21699