Mine Your Own Business

Interesting documentary from 2007 that presents what its creators describe as the “dark side of the environmental movement”…

The film contends that opposition from Greenpeace and other environmentalist NGOs to a gold mining project by a Canadian firm in Roșia Montană , Romania would effectively lock people of that forlorn community (and other desperate locales around the world) into a grinding life of miserable poverty for disingenuous and highly questionable reasons.

You can watch the entire film on Tudou by following this link.

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36 Comments

Filed under Environmental Policy

36 responses to “Mine Your Own Business

  1. A little perspective is required to view this video. It was made by Phelim McAleer,. a rabid anti-environmentalist and darling of the far right. Take what you see and hear in this video with a grain of salt. There is no proof of McAleer’s claims in the video. It’s just trash Breitbart (who often writes about McAleer)-style ‘journalism’ with very little actual facts to back up his claims. Remember, this guy was a prime mover in the Climategate hoax, for which he deserves much ridicule. Do your own research on Roșia Montană. There is much more to this story.

  2. Rotterdam

    Good film. Saw it a year ago. The CBC will show any Michael Moore film, but never this. They cater to the edgy left, but never the edgy right.

  3. Tomm

    This is too funny.

    Rotterdam stole my point.

    I’m looking forward to watching the propaganda from the right just liked I’ve been watching the propaganda from the left.

    It is one of the best ways to figure out where the solution pathways lie.

  4. Craig Chamberlain

    For whatever value it may have as a “documentary”, and based on the trailer I’m not compelled to watch it, I doubt it would have much power in changing minds.

  5. Tomm

    Craig,

    Perhaps not. But did Fahrenheit 911 affect your thinking?

  6. Craig Chamberlain

    Tomm;
    I suppose, but then again, I have found other sources to be… more informative. So I guess it’s a draw.

  7. Tomm

    I “troll” both conservative and liberal blogs because I find that I enjoy seeing the different perspectives and also find that I can better consider all issues by seeing how both sides might view something.

    I also get a little jaded by seeing so much that is entirely partisan and not trying to do anything but defend their corporate political position.

    Having Michael Moore “”troll” our air waves is great, as long as we also see a different persepctive to balance differences.

  8. Craig: I wouldn’t let the hype of the trailer put you off watching the film. I believe it’s important to consider all sides of an issue rather than just listening to the one you might happen to currently agree with or find most pleasing. ;-)

  9. Jymn: Way to shoot the messenger. Yes, I know who the filmmakers are (that’s why I included their names in the tags!) and am familiar with their views about Greenpeace and other NGOs. As for their being “no proof” of the claims made in the video — that is your dismissive opinion and nothing more. There is plenty of evidence of a great many of the claims made.

  10. Craig Chamberlain

    (OK, RT, will do.)

  11. jkg

    Leave it to Rotter to rush in with another bout of hostile media effect. Anyway, my question is whether or not the evidence actually presented is done so without the tempting caressing of confirmation bias. If the response to Michael Moore’s belief-driven work is to respond in equal but opposite force, then I would certainly hope Moore’s critics will stop complaining of the unfairness of his work. What actually gets left out are probably more nuanced works on addressing environmental damage. To whit, Alanna Mitchell’s really good book barely made a blip onto this debate, despite the quality of what she wrote. Her description of the Rio Tinto project in Madagascar at the time was probably the most fair assessment of the issue, highlighting that “community based conservation,” can not be universally applied and that corporate models must be taken into consideration. It may shock the CBC-axe grinders like Rotter here, but Mitchell’s book was promoted on the CBC at the time.

  12. jkg

    I should also point out that if it is in vogue to insinuate self-interested motives as those filmmakers like to suggest, it shouldn’t be all that shocking to find that Gabriel Resources would fund their documentary that coincidentally shed a positive light on that company’s own mining project. Thus, given the filmmakers past comments on environmental journalists, the charge of misguided hypocrisy is well, ironic.

  13. JKG: The partial funding from Gabriel Resources certainly leaves the filmmakers open to being accused having been unreasonably biased or unfairly compromised from the outset, but I think their arguments can still be assessed on the merits.

  14. Mark Lafue

    “The film contends that opposition from Greenpeace and other environmentalist NGOs to a gold mining project by a Canadian firm in Roșia Montană , Romania would effectively lock people of that forlorn community (and other desperate locales around the world) into a grinding life of miserable poverty”

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet your false dichotomy of the day!

  15. Perhaps you’d care to explain?

  16. Mark Lafue

    Namely that the choice is only this industry, this mine, run by this company, using these methods, or poverty forever.

    A few seconds on the Google machine put the lie to the movie’s conceit that only a conspiracy of capital-hating internationals are opposed to this project and that the arguments against it are strictly environmental.

  17. Gee whiz! I’ve never heard of this Google thingamajig… Thanks for setting me straight with your highly informed counter-argument based on your “few seconds” of in-depth research.

  18. Mark Lafue

    I apologize, I’m not good at alchemy, and cannot derive your argument from the base of empty sarcasm: Is there something untrue in what I said, either about the false dichotomy you put here or the nature of the opposition to the mine in question?

  19. Mark Lafue

    Also, pointing out that you could have done a few seconds research does not imply that that is all that I have done.

  20. Craig Chamberlain

    “Namely that the choice is only this industry, this mine, run by this company, using these methods, or poverty forever.”

    Yes, but here’s where it falls down: What are you proposing by way of an alternative for that community, specifically, with the resources actually available to them, to help them to achieve what they otherwise could not? And, specifically, what would be the trade-offs associated with that alternative — assuming it is geared towards making something others would want to buy, assuming it is more than a romantized tribute to misery, ignorance and early death?

  21. Mark: Understand that I am not the one making the “false dichotomy” but was simply making the film available for viewing to those, like me, who may not have seen it before. That’s why my remarks in the post stated “the film contends…etc.” and didn’t state my own beliefs on the matter.

    After watching it, people are free to take from it what they want and make up their own minds based on the information presented and their own research. I found it to be interesting viewpoint and thought-provoking alternative to the narratives more customarily seen in the “liberal media” where environmentalists are most often uncritically depicted as saintly, altruistic do-gooders battling the eeeeevil corporations…

    My “empty sarcasm” was a response to your flippant suggestion that if I’d just done the minimum amount of Googling, I would have discovered the AWFUL TRUTH.

    It’s a mining project, for goodness sake – of course it’s going to be embroiled in controversy; they almost always are. And yes, there will be environmental consequences, but the same can be said of just about any extractive human activity. This film provides another perspective on the matter that’s worth considering.

  22. Mark Lafue

    What do I need to propose, exactly? There are criticisms of this company’s expertise (thin), the methods they’ve chosen (open pit) and of their safety proposals (dams for cyanide tailings ponds that do not account for local seismic potentials). Opposition has come from local organizations, archeologists, and the government of Hungary, which would be downstream of a tailings-pond breach (an event with sad and recent precedent in Romania).

    There are companies with more established track records. There are methods other than open pit mining. There are techniques other than cyanide leaching. If none of those alternatives are viable, there are other means of disposing of cyanide, and safer ways of constructing tailings ponds than what they’ve proposed. All of those might cut into Gabriel Resource’s profit margin, surely, but business comes with costs. Just because this company wants to do things in this way does not mean that they and their proposals are the only way forward.

  23. Mark: And those are all perfectly legitimate arguments to make against the project that should get thoroughly hashed out in the permitting process. Contending that it will destroy the quaint and charming “lifestyle” of the locals or “pristine” countryside that could instead make a living from “archaeological tourism”… not so much.

  24. Mark Lafue

    @ Red: We crossed each other – I was responding to Craig in my last post.

    I assumed endorsement of the logic in your description, which I suppose was a leap, though I personally would not post something like this without a caveat or two to clarify the limits to which I was recommending its claims. Chancun a son gout. That said, you’re assuming pearl-clutching horror on my part that is not there: there’s more than one party objecting to this mine, many are local, not all have senso stricto environmental objections, and there’s no logical reason I can think of that poverty is the only alternative to this particular mine.

  25. there’s more than one party objecting to this mine, many are local, not all have senso stricto environmental objections

    Yeah, the Orthodox, Catholic and Unitarian churches, together with the Romanian Academy (a cultural preservationist organization). Not exactly forces of social progress there.

    So, what lucrative alternatives may there be for people living in that region in your estimation?

  26. Craig Chamberlain

    Mark, yes, of course we should hope that the powers-that-be would press for a commitment to best practices, and it would seem from your post above that there are questions being asked locally. And better yet, if with Canadian capital comes Canadian training and technology and safety standards and the like. The challenge perhaps is the line of those presenting alternatives is likely rather short — and not necessarily with any better outcomes for that community. But they know what they have now, and are looking for something different from what they’ve known. They are experts on their lived experiences, which tends to be pushed aside when it comes to discussing the downside to development. Opportunity finally comes knocking and suddenly people who have no idea what it is to live their lives, people who wouldn’t ever choose that life for themselves emerge as their champions and experts on what is best for them. And I think that is the point being made here.

  27. Mark Lafue

    RT: So, what lucrative alternatives may there be for people living in that region in your estimation?

    If you’re not going to read what I’ve already written on that topic, why should I write it again? Have you so internalized the false dichotomy I pointed out earlier that you can’t see that the options are not “this mine done this way, or nothing”? Also, replacing sarcasm directed at me with sneering directed at a (highly abbreviated) list of the mine’s opponents rather undermines your point above: “The partial funding from Gabriel Resources certainly leaves the filmmakers open to being accused having been unreasonably biased or unfairly compromised from the outset, but I think their arguments can still be assessed on the merits.”

    You keep separate sauces for your geese and ganders, I see. Must be exhausting.

  28. I don’t believe you’ve written anything on the topic of alternative sources of revenue for locals aside from mining. Why don’t you humour me and write it “again”…

  29. Mark Lafue

    For the third time: there is nothing that demands that it be THIS company, doing things THIS way, or nothing. Disagree? Say so, and why, rather than demanding I defend points of your choosing, notwithstanding what my actual claims are.

    There are more than just environmental objections to this mine, and more than just international objectors to it. You listed some yourself. That you do not like them has no bearing on their existence.

    For someone who does not endorse this film, (even as you recommend it unconditionally to your readers and urge them to overlook the compromised integrity of the film-makers), you seem awfully invested the fallacious premise you presented on its behalf.

  30. I disagree with what appears to be your fundamental objection that the film is predicated on a fallacious premise. I would also take issue with the fact that I “endorse” the film or that I “recommend it unconditionally” or for that matter “urge” people to “overlook the compromised integrity of the filmmakers”… You certainly seem to have knack for twisting things and bending them out of shape to suit your own convoluted rhetorical purposes.

    In no way was I ever suggesting that “that it be THIS company, doing things THIS way” — that’s a thoroughly dishonest interpretation of my remarks. In fact, as I said, the objections your raised previously are “all perfectly legitimate arguments to make against the project that should get thoroughly hashed out in the permitting process.”

    On the other hand, many of the objections raised by Greenpeace et. al, strike me as being quite specious and deserving of more critical examination. Too often it seems “liberals” are readily sucked into their own false dichotomy of eeeeeeevil corporations v. saintly environmentalists without ever considering the unintended consequences on the lives of real people resulting from their anti-growth/development agenda.

    Bottom line is that if there are better and less environmentally harmful ways of mining this resource, then those should be pursued, even if they are less profitable for the company involved. But to oppose mining per se and to contend that it will destroy the quaint and charming “lifestyle” of the locals or damage the “pristine” countryside seems like utter bullshit to me.

  31. Mark Lafue

    I noted that you claim to not endorse the film, actually. I also note that you are recommending it (in any event it seems to me that calling it interesting and putting the trailer on your site with a link to the film accompanied by an uncritical summary of its argument is an odd way to NOT recommend something). You did so without expressing any reservations as to its content. Would you prefer “unreservedly” instead of “unconditionally?” I also note that you expressed the opinion that people should do watch the film without considering the funding or background of the film’s makers. Why express the opinion if not to convince? “Urge” seems appropriate to me. Do you have a better word?

    “But to oppose mining per se and to contend that it will destroy the quaint and charming “lifestyle” of the locals or damage the “pristine” countryside seems like utter bullshit to me.”

    Believing that is what is going on here is to be sucked into the false dichotomy of eeeeevil environmentalists versus saintly corporations that (sob!) just want to provide jobs for poor Romanians. Incidentally, now matter how pejoratively one describes it, how one values and wants to preserve cultural heritage is a valid part of the discussion, and one the all-seeing Holies on the permitting committees are taking into account, or should be made to if they are not. All of these issues: jobs, the environment, safety, cultural preservation, are legitimate, as is the company’s profit margin. They do not become illegitimate because the people arguing for them have an agenda, nor even if those people are hypocrites. One can be a hypocrite and still be correct: you, for instance, are perfectly correct that one should address an argument on its merits, even if you don’t seem inclined to do so yourself. Films like this aim to delegitimize the other side, rather than debate them.

    Let me make my “convoluted rhetorical purposes” absolutely clear: this is an intellectually dishonest film – just as Michael Moore’s films are intellectually dishonest. In posting it the way you did, you are furthering that dishonesty and contributing a dollop of your own in pretending there is some distinction between advocating for this film, as you are, and an endorsement.

  32. Craig Chamberlain

    Mark; Are we to assume you have or you intend to go to this community and tell the people there in person why you object to the mine? Do we understand correctly that you will visit it in a generation’s time, and if the mine is there, say to the local doctor, “no, I don’t care you were educated and trained because of this mine — I don’t care you are now a doctor — that in itself doesn’t justify what has happened here” ? Well, I guess that makes me guilty of furthering a false dichotomy, but the fact is, we’re in the end talking about real outcomes for real people. Do care to suggest an alternative for them?

  33. Mark Lafue

    Yes, you are guilty of furthering a false dichotomy, though my heartstrings were genuinely pulled by your theoretical doctor. Does he have a tiny crippled son that was able to walk again because of the mine? And does that son maybe have a puppy, given to him by a Gabriel Resources executive? He really should have a puppy.

    Having not, at any point, said there should be no mine, I am surprised to have to write this for someone who can evidently read and write: I AM NOT SAYING THERE SHOULD BE NO MINE. I would quite happily travel to Romania to say that to any phantasm your imagination should generate. What I am saying is that there are legitimate good faith objections to this particular mine. It could be smaller. It could be safer. It could be less destructive. Maybe… MAYBE… it should not be there at all. The film, on the other hand, is saying that there are no legitimate good faith objections to this mine, and that those who desire that people’s water sources not be contaminated with cyanide actually desire for their continued penury.

    You and RT keep mentioning real world outcomes as if in the real world the only environmentalists that exist are rich-world, postcard-preserving anti-capitalists and that the only values anyone cares about – especially the poor – are whether they, personally, have a job. In the real world, Romanians also care about their cultural heritage, and they also care about the safety of their groundwater, and yes – they even care about the environment. The film sweeps all of those people away (with RT holding the dustpan) because they interfere with the narrative they prefer: namely, that environmentalism is the new communism and environmentalists are amoral dilettantes.

    But one more time, in case all the words between this and the last time were distracting for you: I AM NOT SAYING THERE SHOULD BE NO MINE.

  34. Mark: I don’t believe anybody was suggesting that the corporations “just want to provide jobs for poor Romanians” (or whatever). That would be absurd. Again, a case of your apparent facility for misrepresentation. Obviously, they want to extract valuable minerals from the ground for (gasp!) profit. If in doing so, there is a material benefit to the local inhabitants (who appear to have little else going for them in that hardscrabble part of the world) in terms of a decent job and livelihood, then all the better.

    Perhaps there is some misunderstanding about the term “documentary” that leads you to feel that the filmmakers in question (or Michael Moore for that matter) are being “intellectually dishonest” in their presentation. In both cases, to my mind, they are reality-based polemics and should be regarded as such. I can’t actually think of a “documentary” that is entirely “objective” and free of the filmmaker’s bias.

    To cite another example, I think the documentary work of Adam Curtis is wonderfully illuminating, but it’s also heavily opinionated. In the past, I’ve gladly posted videos of his works here with nothing more than a brief summary and no personal critique because I’d rather people react to the content of film itself, rather than respond to my own opinion or interpretation. In fact, I post a lot of things without much commentary, just because I happen to find them “interesting” in one way or another.

    As for offering up this particular film for viewing without expressing any reservations (or viciously slagging it outright as you may have preferred), well, that was perhaps laziness on my part, but also a decision predicated on the assumption that people are quite capable of arriving at their own conclusions. Personally, I happened to find it an amusing point of view – in this case, one that challenged the conventional “liberal” perspective about environmentalists and felt it was perhaps worthwhile for that reason alone, as I believe it’s good to have one’s preconceptions challenged.

  35. Mark Lafue

    ” I don’t believe anybody was suggesting that the corporations “just want to provide jobs for poor Romanians” (or whatever). That would be absurd. ”

    About as absurd as suggesting that environmentalists are motivated solely by a desire to preserve someone else’s quaintness. Do we understand one another now?

    I know what documentaries are, thank you. I also know that having a point of view does not require that one be dishonest in presenting it. I also know that linking to and defending the legitimacy of a polemic is not the same as linking to and defending the legitimacy of a news article. However, your blog, your choice.

  36. I sense that you desperately need to have the LAST WORD, so feel free to make a snarky, sanctimonious comment to bring this tiresome thread to a close. By the way, where’s YOUR blog.? You know, so I can viciously critique and nitpick objectively analyze it…

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