The title of my post is a direct reference to the documentary The Age of Stupid. While my post is not about Climate Change, it is a direct reference to our existing destructive model of life, presented in the documentary. I believe that if we don’t start using a new sustainable model of thinking and living, our chances of living “happily ever after” on this planet will undoubtedly decrease exponentially.. However, I believe in Positive Change despite the current trend and I believe that we, collectively, can make a positive difference by changing small things in our lives which will echo in the macro environment and eventually create a better Present Continuous for all of us. Feel free to join me in this ethically driven System of Thinking!
Yesterday I returned to Ireland from a very enjoyable 2 weeks holiday in Romania – Transylvania. This was my most relaxing and enjoyable holiday home despite the fact that I always have a long list of things to do/sort out @home. I experienced a large number of good things and a few sad/bad things in my trip but before they phase out of my fresh memory, I want to quickly write this intro to a post I wrote in October last year and I didn’t get around to finish it the way I wanted.
Romania is a really beautiful country and Transylvania in particular stands out to any tourist or native Romanian from other regions, due to its kind hearted people, ancient trails which influenced our culture and breathtaking landscape formed by the Carpathian Mountains, lakes, rivers, medieval castles and fortifications. If you’d like to find out more about Transylvania, a quick Internet search will bring up a large number of photos, videos and websites with plenty of info (yes including stories abt Dracula:). Here are a few examples:
- 10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Transylvania
- Ten things you need to know before visiting Transylvania by LonelyPLanet
- Best of Romania: readers’ travel tips – by The Guardian UK
So what does this post have to do with the beauty of Transylvania & Romania? Well please allow me to explain and bring the reader up to speed with a study case. Rosia Montana is a small town located in Transylvania, in the middle of Romania, in an area very rich in gold (Gold: 300 tons) and other mineral resources (Silver: 1800 tons, Germanium 4000t, Vanadium: 500000t, Molybdenum: 2000t, Bismuth: 4000t, Nickel: 6000t, Chromium: 10000t, Titanium: 200000t, Cobalt: 6000t, Gallium: 60000t, Arsenic: 1mil tons). Infographic attached
Gold and other metals were extracted here since Roman times but during the last decade, the small town of Rosia Montana became the scene of a battle that involved a mining company, corrupt officials, unemployed miners and very active and vocal environmental activists. Gabriel Resources LTD, a Canadian TSX listed company, tried to push for the development of a controversial mining project that would have become Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine. The extraction process would have been based on cyanides, and 8 million ounces of gold and other rare metals would have been extracted over a period of 25 years.
The project raised public suspicions right from the start: the company had no previous mining experience and was founded in Channel Island of Jersey, a well-known tax haven. The company obtained a very generous mining license from the Romanian government for that area, and the vast majority of the citizens suspect that the officials were corrupted by the company. The biggest concerns, however, were raised by the immense pond of cyanide infested sludge that would result from the mining project and the estimated 214 million tons of dust particles. While some of the locals, unemployed miners, were militating for the project, the vast majority of people living in that area were firmly against the project. In 2013 after some of the largest public manifestations seen by Romania in the last 25 years, and after more than 10 years of court battles between the company and the local communities, the project was halted. Miners in Rosia Montana are still unemployed and the company is suing the Romanian government for compensations…
That was the summary, now here are the details: on the 15th of September 2013 thousands of active citizens from 33 Romanian cities have protested against one of the most controversial European projects to date. On the same date, hundreds of thousands of active citizens from over 41 cities world wide have protested on the streets of their resident cities, joining voices in solidarity with their Romanian active citizens brothers and shouting out loud: “United we will save Rosia Montana!” This is the largest active movement in Romania since the early ’90s and due to the nature of this project, the Save Rosia Montana campaign quickly became an international movement against corruption, intimidation and manipulation by greedy political officials and abusive corporations.
The Save Rosia Montana campaign became an international beacon of a civil society awakening from a powerful social programming system & demanding its voice to be heard & its Human Rights to be no longer shredded. Some of us woke up to reality and realised that standing together WE CAN Make A Difference!
If this project ever gets approved, it will destroy 4 mountains, 3 villages including Rosia Montana itself and leave a giant cyanide pool in the area. It will also be the largest open-pit mine in Europe.
Rosia Montana has been a mining town since Romania (Dacia) was actually part of the Roman Empire. But there’s more to it than that. Rosia Montana is actually the oldest documented Romanian locality and has been considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its cultural and natural riches. So this region in the Apuseni Mountains is not just pre-Roman ancient, is also extraordinary for its rich biodiversity. It is very rich in flora and fauna, not to mentioned populated by peaceful people for literally thousands of years!
With mining now halted, many people live off the land and from raising animals. Old people from Rosia say that no gold in the world can buy the peace the neighbouring mountains offer them. And on top of that, there is local pride for the cultural value of the houses, churches and ancient mining galleries the village and nearby areas host. So when Gold Corporation began the process of buying up properties in the village (in tandem with applying for necessary construction and exploitation permits), not everyone in the 3,000 strong village was happy.
Gabriel Resources (RMGC) has influenced many locals and relocated them to nearby villages; it has hosted parties with big corporate flags declaring “we are saving Rosia Montana” on it; it has screened movies showing peaceful life of villagers living next to a mine in New Zealand and it somehow managed to nearly silence the Romanian media so the truth about their mining operations wouldn’t be revealed to the public. I strongly advise all readers to watch the Open pit documentary on YouTube in order to fully understand the consequences of what RMGC wants to do but at a larger scale! The repercussions of such a project to the human life and the environment in Transylvania, Romania and our neighbouring countries Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and potentially Ukraine and Moldova too, would be catastrophic! (example in this 3min video). I could keep going further into the details but many other active citizens have written about it before me. If you’re interested, please visit some of the articles written by The Guardian, HuffingtonPost, The IndependentUK, Eurozine, Spiegel, BBC(1), BBC(2), The Journalist, The International Political Forum, AlJazeera, Reuters, GlobalPost(1), GlobalPost(2), RT, and numerous blogers like R Besliu, Sam R, Kulmun.be, and many, many, many others..
As you can see, an incredible amount of people have joined this noble cause from Romania, from all over the world and even Hollywood stars like Woody Harrelson (Thank you sincerely!).
The coverage this project received in the international media is most impressive and I am very grateful to all the journalists and blogers who chose to cover the story. I am originally from Deva, Hunedoara – a neighbouring county to Rosia Montana which is only 1 hour drive from it and therefore my home city would be directly affected. (RMGC also has the HQ in Deva). Therefore after everything that’s happened, I find it to be absolutely unacceptable that the Romanian government supported this project for so long.
Millions of Romanians protested on the streets for many weeks, because we want our country back from the corrupt politicians who tried to “sell it” undemocratically to unethical corporations!
New laws approved by my government based on misleading information and other incentives, are a defiance to constitutional and environmental norms in favour of unethical motives.
Our flora and fauna is protected by environmental laws which need to be enforced. Our children need water and a clean environment not death pits. Our people have the God given right to live!
Cyanide open pit mining causes heavy metal blood poisoning with Lead, Arsenic and Mercury which in turn are causing cancer in the biological bodies of humans and animals. To humans, at the very least, it causes damage to the brain, the nervous system and motoring functions. The workers are first to be exposed to these life threatening risks and then all the other people who live in the large contaminated area. The contamination also doesn’t stop when the mining operations stop. Please read about the deadly impacts of open pit mining.
Dear European Union leaders, please help us fight the political corruption in Romania and bring JUSTICE to the Romanian people! We beg you to enforce the joined motions RC-B7-0238/2010 called “Ban on use of cyanide mining technologies” and enforce it in Romania and the EU for all the reasons listed in the joint motion RC-B7-0238/2010. I personally call for an investigation in this project and I hope that EU can give theappropiate laws to stop this kind of environmentally destructive projects from ever going ahead in Romania and EU.
After documenting myself about this project, about the open pit mining industry and most of all after watching the Open Pit documentary and seeing what Rosia Montana and After documenting myself about this project, about the open pit mining industry and most of all after watching the Open Pit documentary and seeing what Rosia Montana and Transylvania could become if this project goes ahead, I took off the only piece of gold jewellery I wore for the last 12 years. My Ankh necklace is worth to me a lot more than its weight in any metal in this Universe, but I did it in protest against this deadly project and in solidarity with the people from Rosia Montana, with my countymen from Hunedoara, Alba Iulia and with all the people from Transylvania and the whole of Romania.
If you care, please do something too! And here are my suggestions what you could do:
1. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice. Please read and document yourself. Become Aware of what’s truly important. Accept what you find since you cant change the past. And after accepting the facts, take Positive Action to shape your future and the future of your peers. Just as the ocean is made of tiny drops, every action matters, no matter how small. Please don’t be ignorant!
2. Share articles about unethical practices on your Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo and all your other social media accounts. Sharing takes a few seconds and a click of a button. If you are a writer, even an amateur one like me, please write about your findings and share your words with the world. The impact you can make means more than you think!
3. If you care about this topic, please follow Maia Morgenstern’s protest (and mine), and stop displaying gold in public. You can easily stop wearing gold and silver. Gold on your body is an accessory, NOT a necessity. To all women out there: you are naturally beautiful, you don’t need gold on/in your body to make you “more”. You already are. See it and believe it! To all men: you don’t need hundreds of grams of gold on you to show your power. What’s really important and true power comes from within not from showoffs. Feel it and believe it! If not for you, please do it for Life. For the lives of people, creatures and biodiversity in Transylvania, Romania and this beautiful Planet, which projects like this one would destroy!
4. Please stop buying gold and silver. If we don’t fuel the gold economy, there won’t be one. And there are many other precious metals and stones which you can buy if you really want to. I chose to switch to Titanium. You can too. Please make your choice and use sustainable & ethically sourced alternatives.
5. Please apply the Producer mindset, and try to break away from consumerism! Don’t allow unethical corporations to replace production facilities with shops and superstores in your environment. This destruction of production facilities and their replacement with superstores is happening in Romania since late ’90s and currently is still happening in Romania at an unprecedented pace. What is worse, is that this is being allowed to happened by our political leaders under the umbrella of “foreign investments are good for our people”, despite the fact that Romania turned from a country with literally no debt, to one buried in debt (see attached graph). A country in debt is powerless but its people are not. We can make a difference together!
This post is an open letter to anyone who wants to help and do good. If you can, please help us bring justice on this precious ancient land. Please help us conserve Transylvania and Romania for us and the future generations. Lets stop thinking egotistically and lets start thinking collaboratively for a balanced Present Continuous. It all starts with an idea. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Ovidiu. Transylvanian. Romanian. Earthling.
[Some pics from the protests in Dublin, Sept – Oct 2013]