The earth is getting its very own disaster recorder – the “earth’s black box.” Although not yet constructed, its algorithms are already hard at work with a beta test that can be observed on the project’s website. Aimed to hold politicians to account, we asked the “earth’s black box” team a few questions to learn more.
Every single aeroplane has its own “black box,” a heavily protected recording device placed inside an aeroplane which records all relevant flight data and conversations in the cockpit. In the rare case of an aviation accident or incident, the data inside the black box can be retrieved to investigate the cause of the fatality.
The earth is about to get its very own black box thanks to a project collaboration between the University of Tasmania, communication firm Clemenger BBDO, and an art collective Glue Society, set to record every step we take towards the climate catastrophe.
“Hundreds of data sets, measurements and interactions relating to the health of our planet will be continuously collected and safely stored for future generations…to provide an unbiased account of the events that lead to the demise of the planet, hold accountability for future generations, and inspire urgent action,” the website adds.
The Earth's Black Box is collecting "Hundreds of data sets, measurements and interactions relating to the health of our planet will be continuously collected and safely stored for future generations." pic.twitter.com/4eWmupfChW
— Lili Cariou (@lilicariou) December 27, 2021
The need to hold our leaders accountable for the planet’s fate
“At its core, the box is intended to be a symbol of the catastrophic situation we find ourselves in, and importantly, it’s intended to hold our leaders to account by being an unmissable structure that reminds them that their actions – or inaction – will be recorded for generations to come. There will be no hiding from the impacts of their decisions in the fight against climate change.” – The Earth’s Black Box Team
The box will record two types of data:
- Data on global warming – temperature measurements, ocean acidification data, data on land use, military spending, energy consumption, and human population growth
- Data on climate discourse and policy – News headlines, social media posts, and information from key climate change conferences between heads of states
“In short, it is an artistic work with a purpose…while there is utility to the box, the hope is that it serves as a jolt to our leaders to act so that the box is never necessary” – The team told Impakter.
An entire structure designed for efficiency and durability
At a distant end of the earth, hidden somewhere on the remote island of Tasmania, Australia, a solar-powered vault, roughly the size of a school bus and the shape of an upside-down curb stop will be constructed. The entire structure is encased in 2-inch-thick steel designed to withstand cyclones, earthquakes, and other forms of catastrophe – just like a plane’s “black box.”
“The engineering requirements and energy demands of the project – i.e., the function – actually ended up dictating the form [of the black box]” – said the team.
The shape and design of the box was thought through to find the optimal shape in ensuring its feasibility and sturdiness. The need to power the object using solar panels meant the panels had to be placed at certain angles in order to maximise solar efficiency.
The result, from a purely artistic standpoint, is a fine, minimalist shape that strikingly stands out in the landscape, its squarish, very human design contrasting with Nature’s curved hills.
From art installation to the greatest digital climate library ever recorded
The project – beyond its immediate artistic value – could essentially become the greatest unbiased digital library we have on earth. Filled with information on climate action (or inaction), global longevity data, and climate discourse over the next few years.
But what use to us if the black box is not to be opened before a climate catastrophe, which would involve global collapse of human civilisation and potential human extinction?
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We asked whether, in the short-term, we could have access to the information stored inside the black box, for us to learn from our mistakes today and change our climate inaction to possible climate action.
“We are going to be open sourcing the data that we capture for use by anyone that wants access to it. Our intent is that the data becomes an accessible, single source of truth for those interested” – says the team.
“Whether its schools or tertiary institutions using it as a teaching resource, whether it is used for historical accuracy or even just for those with an interest in the subject. The possibilities are endless and we’re looking forward to engaging with a range of people to make best use of the data we’re capturing.”
The earth’s “black box” as a warning sign
Ultimately, the team behind the “earth’s black box” do not believe the world will explode but envisions that humanity could fall victim to a climate catastrophe if we continue to neglect climate science.
“The box is intended to be a warning for whoever – or whatever – happens to find it, so that they can understand our story, all of the actions or inactions that led to our demise and prevent it from happening to them”
How the story ends is completely up to us. The “earth’s black box” is being constructed to inform the world that we are writing the story of our own demise, and we can be agents in changing the end.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: The earth’s black box in remote island, Tasmania, Australia. Featured Photo Credit: earthsblackbox.com.