The Earth’s black box

A RENDERING of the “black box” in Tasmania, Australia. New York Times 

Cassidy O’Toner | Writer

December 16, 2021

If we had any hope to overcome our current environmental crisis, the earth’s new “black box” may have potentially catastrophic connotations. Seeing as how this structure will be utilized for future generations, does this mean that any optimism has been completely lost? “It’s like an elaborate suicide note,” Reese Ravetti shared. But hopefully, the creation of the black box will do more than officially mark the world’s impending doom. 

Inspired by the black box found in airplanes that record flight data in the case of a crash, The Black Box Initiative was created by Australian scientists to collect data on climate change. According to the creator’s website, the purpose of the device is 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.”

JIM CURTIS (right) the Creative Director of the Black Box Initiative Project. Campaign Brief

Although it is not yet complete, it is projected to be finished in early 2022.  The device itself was signed by its creators to “outlive us all” and its impressive features are sure to help it do just that. Equipped with three-inch steel walls the structure itself is intended to be nearly indestructible. Located in a remote location off the coast of Tasmania in Australia with very little potential for any political or environmental upset in the area, the structure should stand unperturbed for years as it collects data.

As this device is intended to function even long after the extinction of our current civilization, the inner workings of the box are wholly self-sufficient with only the use of a battery and solar energy to keep it running. Created with only functionality in mind, in addition to the solar panels and impressive battery storage, the structure will be crammed full of storage drives that will be continuously downloading information. The developers anticipate that the box will be able to endure at least three to five decades worth of information. 

But the data it will be collecting will be far more than simply the shifting of the tides and melting ice. The information it seeks will not only be the results of damage humans inflict on the planet but the causes as well. From military spending to social media posts, this device will indiscriminately seek out any and all information that could pertain to both the improvement or destruction of the environment. 

While the prospect of such a device seems fairly cynical, accepting our doom should be the furthest thing from our minds. Rather than a symbol of resignation, it should truly function to spur our current society into action. “The black box shows how far human ignorance can go,” senior Cameron Trunec said. “It demonstrates how humans now require such drastic intervention just to hopefully start caring about the environment.” Despite this unfortunate truth, hopefully this device will motivate people around the world to work together to address the climate crisis. 

It is unknown whether the device will be the catalyst for any drastic change or even if it will be utilized by foreign civilizations long after we have gone. But regardless of these uncertainties, the ominous message Earth’s Black Box has left us with is hard to ignore. According to the Black Box initiative, “only one thing is certain, your actions, inactions, and interactions are now being recorded.”

Learn more on the project’s website.

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