Canada’s Lax Kw’alaams Band Council’s rejection of a billion dollar proposal points to a new kind of economics.
In May 2015 members of the Lax Kw’alaams Band Council rejected a 1.15 billion dollar proposal from Pacific Northwest LNG to construct a pipeline, refinery and port for the extraction of Liquid Natural Gas from the coast of British Columbia. The Lax Kw’alaams Nation, north of Prince Rupert, chose to reject the proposal because they were worried about the long-term future of their Flora Bank and Skeena Fishery.
The Lax Kw’alaams are not the only Nation to reject a lucrative oil proposal. Last year the Haida Nation refused any involvement with Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, who wanted to pursue gas and oil exploration on their territory. Yet the Lax Kw’alaams refusal of a billion dollars has received considerable attention and resulted in a greater mediatized sensation. In our contemporary moment it is common to draw attention to interesting points of attrition and sensationalism, rather than examining adequate scientific options or answers. Their refusal is the beginning of something new.
According to different reports, there is dissension yet unanimity among the citizens of the Lax Kw’alaams Nation. Deeper questions emerge from their rejection of the proposal. Can we shift our perception of money and profit to include natural wealth and biological profit? Why can’t our markets become objects of real profit? Trees are the answer. A healthy ocean is the answer. Wildlife roaming freely is the answer. Abundant fish runs are the answer. Yet we do not see the yearly growth of a tree, or the yearly health of the ocean, the yearly jump in the natural yield of an island, as objects of real profit.
We hear a lot these days about oil and energy projects all over the world, about the urgent need to create markets where markets do not yet exist. But what if those markets already exist? What if we give authority to The Natural Market and begin to hedge our decisions on the prosperity of that market rather than the money market. What might such a shift in economic consciousness manifest? How might it contribute to a world where the very idea of profit morphs into something deeper and more profound?
The time has come to demand more from markets. We want a life for our children and a healthy environment. We want multiple generations to reap the benefits of our technological breakthroughs. We want a stop to runaway climate change. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. They are inclusive, symbiotic and realistic. But first we must break out of our old habits and antiquated ways of thinking. The Lax Kw’alaams Band Council’s rejection of a billion dollar proposal is a wake up call, a breath of fresh air. It points the way to a new kind of economics — a bionomics — a global system with a different kind of DNA.
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