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Adding to the end-of-days vibe we’re feeling this holiday season, The New York Times recently published a story on Earth’s Black Box, a tool that records our planet’s ongoing climate crisis.
Should all of human civilization someday be obliterated by climate change, this bus-size steel vault will archive critical information about the planet’s weather patterns and our catastrophic climate errors.
The Times compares it to the flight recorder of a plane that records the craft’s final moments before crashing so that investigators can determine what went wrong.
Earth’s Black Box will chronicle climate change through media hits and scientific reports. Every time something new is published or posted about climate change online—news articles, social media posts, academic journals, etc.—it will find the information via search terms and save it.
The box itself will be built in Tasmania, an island off mainland Australia’s southern coast. It will be climate-proof, with three-inch-thick steel walls, battery storage, and solar panels. Although developers anticipate it will be created by early 2022, hard drives that will be stored in it have already begun recording, starting with reports from the November COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
The purpose of this device, according to its website, is to “provide an unbiased account of the events that led to the demise of the planet, hold accountability for future generations, and inspire urgent action.”
This isn’t the first doomsday reserve of its kind. The Global Seed Vault, located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is essentially a massive safety deposit containing a collection of earth’s agricultural biodiversity.
Earth’s Black Box is equal parts record-keeping vault and a creative statement to hold world leaders accountable for the action they do or don’t take against a climate apocalypse. Unlike the seed vault, this box is more than a practical contraption; it’s a warning to future humans. It seems to say, “Our descendants—if any survive—are watching how we screwed this up!” That is, if they can figure out how to get into it.
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