Let's Build a Giant Copper Cube

One way that ecoextremists (and yes, I am aware that’s a charged word) are able to change minds is by changing hearts. Performative acts to varying degrees throughout time have led to widespread reporting, word of mouth exchanges and online virality. And while you might not agree with dumping cow poop near the White House (same here) to protest Biden’s climate proposals, you still probably heard about it.

Now, before the pitchforks and mobs, this author is a believer in climate change and pro-climate action. But he is also a pragmatist who thinks that if you are going to promote action, that you need to specify how you will meet the goals you are proposing–especially if you are instilling fear. That’s why I would like to propose that someone install a 40 x 40 x 40 m3 faux copper cube on the Anchorage park strip in support of climate goals and responsible mining.

If there’s one thing resource development proponents can learn from climate activists, it’s how to share information. Think about the a memorable or successful pro-development campaign. Still thinking? That's right, you probably can't. Actions like a poop dump or sailing across the Atlantic to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit might not be practically impactful, but they capitalize on today’s clickbait approach to entering people’s newsfeeds and therefore hearts and therefore minds. Which is to say, they also have merit in a non-tangible way. They make people talk, think and share.

So how can advocates for pro-natural resource development climate solutions? Follow the model that has already been set in place. 1. Capitalize on virality. 2. Propose actionable solutions. 3. Have fun with it.

According to Wood Mackenzie, over 6-million tons of copper are projected to be needed through 2028 to meet global wind energy goals. Considered annually, that’s a volume of about [please hold for quick math] 64,000 m3 of raw copper. That’s 116 billion perfectly stacked pennies. That's massive.

I would venture to guess that not many people know that much raw material is needed to meet wind-power climate goals. So let’s show them. Let’s install a giant faux copper cube in the middle of downtown Anchorage. Let’s paint it with the call to action: “We need this much copper annually to build wind turbines. Where will we get it? Support responsible mining. Support Alaska’s mines.” And then just let Instagram and people’s curiosity do the rest.

Editor’s note: this proposal is inspired by the radical, in-your-face tactics of the wildly successful Denver Water Campaign. If you haven’t heard about it, I highly suggest you check it out.

About the Author: Owen Phillips is the External Affairs Coordinator at the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. He is the main person behind Velocity and supports responsible resource development, especially in service of climate solutions. Have an idea for a story? owen@velocityak.com