This is a continuation of a series on how certain sensibilities within the environmental movement could lead to policies that, if applied on a broad scale, would result in net environmental harm.
Shade-grown coffee. Sharing the land is less efficient than sparing the land and agricultural inefficiency translates into more land needed to grow the same amount of stuff, which if small landholders are doing this, means they will cut down more and more trees around their farms when times are bad. This is what happens with small “shade-grown” coffee farmers, e.g., Tree Cover Loss in El Salvador's Shade Coffee Areas Allen Blackman, Beatriz Ávalos Sartorio, Jeffrey Chow RFF Discussion Paper 07-32 May 2007. Also, shade-grown coffee extends coffee production into forested land, decreasing biodiversity in those areas and result in net increase of Co2 emissions. See: Intensification of coffee systems can increase the effectiveness of REDD mechanisms Agricultural Systems Volume 119, July 2013, Pages 1–9.
Get Back to the Land. Rural living in developed countries requires greater energy and land usage per capita. Rural living in developed countries promotes poverty and with increasing development, more car driving. Poverty in rural settings leads to environmental degradation and the loss of wild habitat. In developing countries, rural poverty in agricultural areas is associated with increased birthrates. See, for instance: Global Profile of Extreme Poverty. Prepared by the Secretariat of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 15 October 2012.
Anti-Corporate/Anti-Business. Larger businesses promote economies of scale, higher wages (known as the big firm wage premium), and de-materialization of production, logistics and transportation (meaning fewer emission per unit produced). Of course, there needs to be a mix of large, moderate and small businesses, and monopolistic power should be avoided. But all entities promote their self-interest – that doesn’t make them inherently evil or harmful. Balance of power, reasonable regulation, competition and a diversity of voices in the political process can do much to mitigate the excesses of big companies. To the extent that large successful businesses are more efficient (productivity- and energy-wise) and promote higher standards of living, the better for our planet and for our ability to tackle global warming.