When an airplane has an accident, there’s a way of finding out exactly what happened: recovering and listening to the black box, the device that records a flight’s information and allows us to reconstruct the sequence of events prior to the crash. Now, Earth itself has a black box, a structure storing evidence of climate change and what was done – or not – to avoid it.
Earth’s ‘Black Box’
It recalls the black monolith Stanley Kubrick gave us in the middle of a desert surrounded by great rocks in his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The scene today, though, is the Australian island of Tasmania, where a steel vault the size of a bus is being built.
This is Earth’s ‘Black Box’, a large container which will function with solar energy and store the planet’s global warming patterns.
It will also record all we do and say, so that in the future we’ll have all the evidence about climate change, including who’s made the most effort to mitigate its effects, what were the most successful strategies, and how policies and climate awareness in society evolved. In other words, an archive is being created that will help tell future generations how we avoided – at least, that’s how we like to think, while still in time to do so - Earth’s own specific crash.
Earth’s ‘Black Box is a big device that will record the planet’s global warming patterns
But the aim of a black box is not only to discover how an accident happened, but to learn from the errors made and use the recorded content to learn how to prevent it happening again. The same can be said with Earth’s Black Box, the idea being that our experience halting climate change can be recorded for future generations so they don’t make the same mistakes as us.
The project emerged out of collaboration between the University of Tasmania, the company Clemenger BBDO and an art collective called Glue Society. They came up with a tool that will record two kinds of data over the next 50 years:
- Measurements of Earth and sea temperatures, ocean acidification, atmospheric CO2, extinctions of species, changes in use of land, as well as aspects such as human population, military spending and energy consumption.
- It will also be fed all kinds of news related to climate change, which will serve to give a context to all this data and help create the narrative of how we stopped global warming.
The black box will collect information from both the past and the future, extracting any available historical data on climate change from the Internet. And, although work on the structure will begin mid-2022, hard disks have already begun recording data, beginning with the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November 2021.
The climate change evidence
The black box project might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but global warming is a reality for sure. It’s real in the form of more than 1°C. And, according to the latest reports by the experts, we’re heading for a global temperature of 2.7°C above that of the industrial era by the end of this century.
The evidence leaves no room for doubt: climate change is affecting everyone, with increasingly rapidly-occurring and forceful effects. This is mainly the fault of humankind, according to the main conclusions of the latest report by the experts who make up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Climate change is affecting everyone, with increasingly rapidly-occurring and forceful effects
Some of these changes in the climate are unprecedented (we are breaking climate records aol the time) and other are already irreversible. Heatwaves, fires, floods… extreme meteorological phenomena are more frequent and intense.
The Earth’s Black Box project has the end objective of leaving proof of the decisions our species took to overcome (or succumb to) the biggest threat it has faced since we first appeared on the planet. The intention behind the black box is to help us avoid catastrophe and increase global awareness about climate change. What is clear is that the story this black box will tell depends solely on how we decide to act (or not) as a society.