Billy Fleming, “Fire, Ice, and Ore: Arctic Elements, Indigenous Resistance, and the Global Energy Transition”

Billy Fleming, “Fire, Ice, and Ore: Arctic Elements, Indigenous Resistance, and the Global Energy Transition”

Billy Fleming, “Fire, Ice, and Ore: Arctic Elements, Indigenous Resistance, and the Global Energy Transition”
e-flux Architecture Lectures

Free admission

June 22, 2023, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

e-flux Architecture presents “Fire, Ice, and Ore: Arctic Elements, Indigenous Resistance, and the Global Energy Transition,” a lecture by Billy Fleming at e-flux on Thursday, June 22 at 7pm.

The struggle for climate justice is a generational project. Though it is often framed in abstract terms—warming scenarios, emissions pathways, integrated assessment models for damages, and fuel mixes in the grid—it is rarely experienced this way. Rather, the global energy transition and the broader struggle for climate justice are often understood—and thus won or lost—in materialist terms: through investments in the buildings, landscapes, public works, and built environment that stitch together everyday life for most people. This is the proposition at the core of Green New Dealers’ program—to transform how and where we live and relate to one other by tackling carbon emissions and inequality at once. 

But these forces extend well beyond the boundaries of a parcel of building envelope where designers typically engage with questions of climate action. The technologies at the core of the energy transition—solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, battery farms, data centers, and advanced nuclear power—all depend on a planetary supply matrix of rare earth elements and critical minerals. These pockets of exceedingly valuable ore tend to be developed in the Global South—and especially in the most remote locations of the Global South, where rules, laws, and norms can be suspended or ignored by multinational mining companies without the scrutiny of local or international press. The poles of this process—the mines and the end-use technological deployments—are linked through a network of waste disposal sites, manufacturing hubs, renewable energy deployment zones, and the various labor and logistical forces that make them all possible.  

One of those poles rests in South Greenland’s Kvanefjeld Mine—an erstwhile uranium mine that was key to the Allies’ postwar nuclear energy and weapons programs, that was subsequently decommissioned after decades of anti-mining militancy by a local group of Inuit activists known as Urani? Naamik! (Uranium? No thanks!). But prospectors have since discovered that the mine is home to the world’s second-densest deposit of rare earth elements and critical minerals that, coupled with Greenland’s postcolonial relationship with Denmark, and the region has entered a state of suspended reality as interested parties wait for the Danish court system to rule on exploitation licenses for the site. 

This lecture will situate Greenland within the global energy transition and implicate its future in that of the Global North. Put another way, this lecture will ask what it means for resource communities like Narsaq, Greenland for the U.S. and other imperial powers to pursue the kind of resource-intensive energy transition that is now underway. 

“Fire, Ice, and Ore” is presented as part of e-flux Architecture Lectures, a monthly series inviting researchers and practitioners to discuss timely issues in contemporary architecture, theory, culture, and technology.

For more information, contact

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.         
–For elevator access, please RSVP to The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.                  
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.

Architecture, Indigenous Issues & Indigeneity, Colonialism & Imperialism
Scandinavia, Extractivism, Climate change, Energy

Billy Fleming is the founding Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. He is a co-founder of the Climate + Community Project—a climate justice think tank dedicated to connecting movement demands and progressive legislators through applied research—and co-creator of the organization Data Refuge—an international initiative to secure critical environmental data at risk of erasure during the Trump Administration. His work includes the recent books A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation with Carolyn Kousky and Alan Berger, and Design With Nature Now with Frederick Steiner, Richard Weller, and Karen M’Closkey. Billy’s writing and scholarship have appeared in Dissent, The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, Places Journal, and Journal of Architectural Education, among others. His current book project is titled Building Just, Post-Carbon Futures: Imagining and Implementing Climate Justice in America and is expected in 2024.

RSVP for Billy Fleming, “Fire, Ice, and Ore: Arctic Elements,…

Thank you for your RSVP.

will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.