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Monday, February 19, 2007

Enemies of the Poor

I'm glad to see this fine documentary getting some attention. I have a copy and in my view it is very well done.
The rhetorical overkill of the response was telling: The environmental movement is clearly afraid of this film, and it should be. Mine Your Own Business, Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer’s clear-eyed look at the true impacts of mining and the nefarious tactics of its opponents, exposes the self-satisfied delusions of the environmental Left, putting lie to a host of deadly, anti-growth canards and revealing the smug elitism of many green advocates.

This is, perhaps, not all that surprising. The ideas espoused by many greens are farcical enough to begin with. But even for someone used to their whoppers, it’s almost shocking the lies, misrepresentations, and condescending behavior that McAleeny manages to catch on film. With great care and thoroughness, the movie deconstructs the Left’s anti-growth narrative of pastoral tranquility and replaces it with something truly shocking: actual local sentiment.

Environmentalists, of course, talk endlessly about preserving traditional ways of life, but locals don’t want to preserve poverty and hardship. They want a chance to provide a more comfortable existence for themselves and their families. McAleer catches
Francoise Heidebroek, who works with an anti-mining NGO, claiming that Rosia Montana residents would “prefer to ride a horse than drive a car.” When McAleer asks locals if they’d prefer to clop about in freezing temperatures on a horse, they just laugh at him.

But Heidobroek’s wistful fantasies about poverty are nothing compared to those of the World Wildlife Fund’s Mark Fenn. Fenn opposes a proposed mine in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar on the grounds that it would destroy “the quaintness, the small-town feeling” that he so admires.

When asked why locals should be denied the economic opportunity that would come with the mine, he calmly explains that, although they might not have terribly good healthcare, or shelter, or nutrition, they have a stress-free life that can be valued by — I kid you not — the number of times they smile per day. Even if they did get money, he explains, they wouldn’t know how to spend it. As he tells it, they tend to blow their cash on parties, booze, and stereo systems.

Fenn’s attitude isn’t just witless, it’s sickening, and it’s indicative of the general level of smug, out-of-touch elitism that haunts the environmental movement. “Regional character,” “simple life,” “quaintness,” “small-town feeling,” “local history” — these are just warm, fuzzy phrases trotted out by anti-growth environmentalists to deny wealth and opportunities to residents of poor regions. And, as in Fenn’s case, they’re often markers of ugly condescension toward third-world residents.
Most of the world's poor want the opportunity for a better life. They don't need an ugly eco-imperialism that operates against their own wishes!

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