Composting and the Privatization of the Carbon Cycle

As efforts are put underway to control (and possibly privatize) the planet’s carbon cycle (Heynen, 2005), it is important again to safeguard the right of citizens to aerobically compost less neoliberal interests attempt to prohibit such activity.  Although it may seem unlikely at the moment, it’s not an inconceivable development in a scenario of a climate emergency pretensed geoengineering techno-fix regime.  Plans for prohibiting back yard composting by citizens were explinaed to me in a personal communication by an advocate of centralized anaerobic digester technologies.  Their belief was that citizens should be mandated to provide their food wastes to their municipality so that methane could be generated to fuel the city’s police car fleet.  Such motions for total municipal control over decentralized citizen resources such as food scraps bear similarities to “right of capture” laws in the American West where decentralized rooftop rainwater harvesting is legally prohibited on the grounds that municipalities own the rights to any and all rainfall landing on their boundaries (Kwasniak, 2009).  I believe it is important to defend the individual rights of citizens to engage in both small-scale rainwater harvesting and in backyard composting, as these are both essential technologies for promoting decentralized and distributed urban ecological resilience, and can both be thought of a resources belonging to the pool of the commons.

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