This Earth’s Indestructible Black Box Will Tell The Future What Happened to Us

There is a strange structure about to witness and record the end of the world as we know it, at the far end of the earth – hidden somewhere on the remote Australian island of Tasmania.

The project, called Earth’s Black Box, is a giant steel installation, soon to be filled with hard drives powered by solar panels, each of them documenting and preserving a stream of real-time scientific updates and analysis on the gloomiest issues the world faces.

Information about climate change, species extinctions, environmental pollution, and health impacts will be recorded in the monolith – so that if one day the scientist of a future society discovers the archive, they will be able to piece together what happened to us.

The Black Box website explains: “Unless we dramatically transform our way of life, climate change and other man-made perils will cause our civilization to crash.”

“Earth’s Black Box will record every step we take towards this catastrophe. Hundreds of data sets, measurements and interactions relating to the health of our planet will be continuously collected and safely stored for future generations.”

In a sense, the box, which evokes the brutal design of Norway’s famous “doomsday vault,” actually serves a somewhat complementary purpose.

Svalbard doomsday vault

While the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a fortress designed to protect a vital backup of the world’s seeds in case the worst of all happens, the Earth’s “black box” is seen as an on-going record of the world’s path toward inevitable impasse.

Jim Curtis, executive creative director at marketing agency Clemenger BBDO, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “The idea is if the Earth does crash as a result of climate change, this indestructible recording device will be there for whoever’s left to learn from that. “

Recordings have already started

The black box will record backwards, as well as forwards in time, to document how we got to where we are — pulling any available historical climate change data off the internet.

The project – a collaboration between Clemenger BBDO, creative agency The Glue Society, and researchers at the University of Tasmania – is due to be completed at its unannounced site in early 2022, but the fund’s systems are already partly active, in that they are “environmental updates for direct registration in testing experimental”.

Using compression and archiving, the developers estimate there will be enough capacity to store data for the next 30 to 50 years.

In the meantime, they’re investigating ways to expand that capacity, and more long-term storage methods including inscribing to “steel plates”.

“This will enable us to be far more efficient with how each tier of storage is used and make it possible to store data for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” they said.

The makers of the fund say that part of the point of the research is to help push humanity away from doomsday-like scenarios, and hope that its mere presence will encourage today’s society to act gradually and more responsibly with regard to climate action and environmental stewardship.

While some might belittle Earth’s Black Box as a PR stunt designed to capture people’s attention – as opposed to a serious scientific documentation project – there’s no doubting the world urgently needs more attention and action on these issues, no matter how those eyeballs are secured.