Humanity Is Getting Its Own Report Card: The Earth’s Black Box
In the event of an airplane crash, the information stored in the plane’s black box is critical for piecing together the events that led to the catastrophe. Now, the Earth is getting its own. Advertising executive of Clemenger BBDO Jim Curtis said, “Obviously it’s a really powerful concept when you say to someone, ‘Earth’s got a black box.’” Similar in idea, Earth’s Black Box is an information-filled vault that runs on solar power. Cameron Duke, a reporter for Live Science, explained that in the interest of self-preservation, the gadget is covered in three inches of steel and is roughly the length of a school bus and the shape of an upside-down curb stop. In addition, it is tucked away in the safest place on Earth: Tasmania. Given its geographical and geopolitical stability, the coast of this island is the perfect place for this device to reside. The Black Box official website states that the purpose of this device is to keep an account of the events leading to any major climate disaster in hopes of inspiring action while holding the human race accountable. It works by collecting and storing climate-relevant information, including data on temperature, ocean acidification, energy and military spending, human population growth, headlines, policies, and land-use numbers into a series of hard drives protected by layers of coding.
Jonathan Kneebone, co-founder and creative partner of The Glue Society, said, “It’s built to outlive us all.” Black Box developers added, “It is impossible to anticipate who or what will find [it]. … Like the Rosetta Stone, we would look to use multiple formats of encoding.” This device will have an electronic reader that activates with sunlight and long-term dormancy that will ensure it opens when needed.
The box is made to provide an objective account of the events leading up to climate devastation, leaving nothing up to interpretation. Yale historian Daniel Kevles admitted the invention may have some merit as a document for the future but ultimately critiqued, “I’m not all that impressed with regard to its consequential impact for warning us.” One of its creators shared that he hopes the box never has to be opened. The box’s construction is set to be finished within early 2022, and the official website offers a beta version of a live recording of the box.