A provocative new film about the environment, development and human rights – Mine Your Own Business – is being selectively screened around Australia before it hits the festival circuit next year.

It’s been made by a former Financial Times journalist, Phelim McAleer, based on his time as a reporter in Romania.

McAleer covered the story of a town called Rosia Montana in a region mined since the Romans came for the gold 2,000 years ago – but where an international environmental campaign has blocked the development of a new mine by a Canadian company, Gabriel Resources. A best practice mine that would help repair the environmental damage done by Ceausescu era industry.

He thought that was wrong. He explains: “Hundreds of years after we have become rich and comfortable by removing our forests and exploiting our natural resources such as coal, oil, and gold, we are now going to the poorest countries on the planet to prevent them from doing what we did and having what we have. We want them to stay as ‘traditional peasants’ forgetting all the while that the poor people desperately want progress and desperately want to enjoy the good, healthy and long life we in the West take for granted”.

And he’s found other people who think that way, too – people like the Professor of Sociology at University of Kent, Frank Furedi, who complains “Progressives have stopped believing in progress”.

And Deepak Lal, the Professor of International Development Studies at the University of California, tells McAleer that comfortable Western greens patronise the third world as “poor polluting millions”.

McAleer exposes the exaggerations and misleading claims of the foreign environmentalists who oppose development, who claim people in the developing world don’t want prosperity but prefer a simple peasant life where they are “poor but happy”. He interviews locals who tell a very different story.

As an Ulsterman, McAleer is well aware of the negatives of religion. He says it’s what inspired him to become a journalist. Mine Your Own Business confronts us with the consequences of our new green fundamentalism.

It reminds us that the two greatest dividends of mass industrialisation have been mass prosperity and mass participation in the political process – or wealth and democracy, in other words.

McAleer accuses green groups, NGOs and their supporters of denying people in poverty “the dignity of development”. He says Mine Your Own Business is about a massive human rights abuse.

“We are smart enough to take our own fate in our own hands,” the local doctor in Rosia Montana tells McAleer. Yet the racist cultural colonists of the environmental movement seem to disagree.

Peter Fray

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