Australians Creating ‘Black Box’ to Hold World Accountable for Climate Change

Rosemary Giles
Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images/ Cropped
Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images/ Cropped

Throughout the last decade, calls to action against climate change have been increasing in number. Unpredictable and unusual weather has been on the upswing, with numerous natural disasters leaving parts of the world devastated. One group of researchers, however, has decided to take matters into their own hands and are creating a “black box” to record climate data in an attempt to hold the world accountable.

Creating a ‘black box’

The project is being undertaken by a group of artists and scientists. The group includes people from the University of Tasmania and a marketing communications company, Clemenger BBDO, which came up with the idea for “Earth’s Black Box” in the wake of the United Nations’ 2022 climate discussions in Glasgow.

Very cracked soil that looks like stones.
Cracked earth is seen at Wivenhoe Dam in Brisbane, Australia during a severe drought, April 10, 2007. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wood/ Getty Images)
People travel through a city street flooded with water on bikes
Commuters suffer after Dhaka’s Green Road was left waterlogged following unusual heavy rains, October 12, 2020. (Photo Credit: Nayan Kar/ SOPA Images/ LightRocket/ Getty Images)
Glacier in the mountains with a green, grassy patch at the bottom.
Aerial view of the Flatbreen Glacier in Norway, which has undergone unusually quick recession due to climate change, August 12, 2020. (Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/ Getty Images)

Jim Curtis, the executive creative director at Clemenger BBDO, said “Earth’s Black Box is a structure and device that will record every step that humanity takes towards or away from the impending climate catastrophe.” The inspiration for the design came from the same form of black box devices that are used in airplanes to track the events of flights and crashes.

Ultimately, Earth’s Black Box will record history as it happens, detailing everything that was or wasn’t done in the face of climate change.

Sturdy design

The 10-meter-long box is to be installed on the western coast of Tasmania, an island state of Australia, sometime in 2022. This location was chosen because the researchers believe it to be an area that is both politically and geographically stable. The box itself is designed to be indestructible, able to hold up to many elements including natural disasters. All data collected will be stored behind three inches of steel layers.

Aerial shot of a house with a fence in the middle of a flood.
Aerial view of a building submerged by flood waters from the Panaro River, affecting dozens of inhabited houses and some farms in Modena, Italy, December 6, 2020. (Photo Credit: Michele Lapini/ Getty Images)
Abandoned trucks and debris in the middle of a burned forest.
A burned truck and structures are seen following the Butte Fire near San Andreas, California, September 13, 2015. (Photo Credit: David McNew/ Getty Images)
Smoke coming out of smoke stacks in front of an orange sky.
Steam and exhaust rise from different companies on a cold winter day in Oberhausen, Germany, January 6, 2017. (Photo Credit: Lukas Schulze/ Getty Images)

Powered by the sun and thermal energy, with a backup battery pack, the box will be able to track and save data for somewhere between 30-50 years, although there are plans to ensure this data can be stored for much longer. The designers are also trying to create a system for the box that will allow them to check whether the project is working. The most likely way they will do this is by adding what they call a “heartbeat” style sensor.

Recording the data

The box will be incredibly sturdy so that the extensive data it records can be kept safe. Inside it are different storage drives that will record things like the acidification of the oceans, energy consumption, and temperatures on land and below water.

In addition, it will also be able to record news related to climate change, such as the outcomes of climate conferences or headlines on natural disasters. According to the project website, having data recorded through the device means that an unbiased account of events is being created.

Man standing on the roof of a house looking at a large forest fire.
A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs fire continues to grow near Camarillo, California, May 3, 2013. (Photo Credit: David McNew/ Getty Images)
Man kayaking through a flooded city street.
A kayaker paddles down a portion of Interstate 676 after flooding from heavy rains from hurricane Ida in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 2, 2021. (Photo Credit: Branden Eastwood/ AFP/ Getty Images)

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Although Curtis hopes that Earth’s Black Box will simply record data that can hold the world accountable and be passed on to future generations, he has a plan if things don’t go so positively.

“If the worst is to happen and as a civilization we crash as a result of climate change, this indestructible box will be there and will record every detail of that. So whoever’s left, or whoever finds it afterwards, learns from our mistakes.”