As I write, the commodification of the environment is quite advanced in the U.K. with the proper bureaucracy and an inspiring new lexicon in place. A Natural Capital Committee with an Economic Task Force refer to “Natural Capital” instead of nature. Natural processes have become “ecosystem services.” Hills, forests and river drainages have become “green infrastructures” while biodiversity and habitat are “asset classes” within the “ecosystem market.” All of them will be assigned a price to become exchangeable.
And while nature is being commodified, our democratic rights are being eroded.
Forty four years ago I remember that there were immeasurable tracts of undeveloped and unmanaged public lands worldwide. During those years if we encountered a “No Trespassing” sign or a fence we’d simply roam onto new turf albeit a bit more remote. However Garrett Hardin, in his now famous 1968 article “The Tragedy of the Commons” which appeared in the journal Science, saw the closures of the common lands differently. Simply put, it’s the inability of people in a local area to manage their shared resources because individuals want to exploit them rather than to co-operate and share them.
Thinking globally, it is easy to see how the commodification of the natural world and the closure of the Commons everywhere fits the agenda of nearly all governments and the multi-national corporations.
Now, focusing and acting locally, the sum total of the proposed closures of the Jumbo area Commons in order to facilitate the B.C. governments deal with Glacier Resorts Limited (GRL) is 5,967 hectares called Controlled Recreation Area (CRA) for resort use proper. And another 52,000 hectares of Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to mitigate the damage the resort will inflict upon the CRA and surrounding environment.
That is 57,967 hectares or 143,840 acres or 224 sq. miles of closed Commons to the Central Purcells. This all neatly arranged by our B.C. government in collusion with GRL, both of whom are financed by various corporations (with vested interests) and others of the world’s wealthy. While the enclosures will benefit financially our government and the investors, they will exclude non-paying and unauthorized citizens. The paying guests are most frequently from the many lands of high rises and financial districts.
The desired result of this agenda item is to keep us citizens out of the area we love and cherish but don’t pay for while the world’s wealthy invests in hitherto Crown Land Commons. Meanwhile the private sector and the banks are swallowing up governments and bending national constitutions to their favour by decreasing the roll of governments and limiting our rights as citizens.
In conclusion I defer to Garrett Hardin who says, “while I think that mass economic consolidation may be a stage in the evolutionary destiny of the planet, I also believe that the world’s people are equally impelled to organize as a countervailing super power to put these raging market forces in check. The world’s people must create new political accountability structures to protect our shared resources and to restore the promise of freedom and equality that is rapidly fading from our lives.”
Surely this is an idea whose time has come. So let’s keep on keeping the Jumbo Commons common!
Rowena Eloise, West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild