Many liken climate change to the scenario of a slowly sinking ship. The creators of the latest in provocative climate change monuments view our planet’s demise as more of a plane crash.  

Earth’s Black Box, created by data researchers, artists, and architects, will sit in Tasmania and record every single climate failing humans commit. Through news articles, tweets, and scientific journals, the black box, powered by solar energy, will listen and archive leaders’ climate actions and hope to inspire more to be done.

"The box will act as an indestructible and independent ledger of the 'health' of our planet," Jonathan Kneebone, artist and co-founder of the artistic collective Glue Society, told CNN. "And we hope it will hold leaders to account and inspire action and reaction in the broader population."

The structure will be composed of three-inch thick steel and, like its namesake, is meant to withstand the destruction of its aircraft (in this case, Earth). The black box will record land and ocean temperatures, military spending, atmospheric greenhouse gas, as well as biodiversity loss, all serving as an objective account of the climate disaster for future generations and the leaders of today.

The outdoor installation won’t be completed until next year and the creators are still in the process of figuring out certain aspects, such as how visitors will access the information sealed within the box, but it comes at a pivotal point in our planet’s history, where we have entered make-or-break scenarios.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) ended in November and science points to it as a failure. With current commitments, the earth will heat past the internationally agreed upon temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are currently at 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming and current estimates predict that we are on track to reach 1.8C to 2.4C warming. At 1.1C we’re already seeing the deadly consequences of climate change, from extreme weather events to migration to famine. 

Unlike the climate clock, an installation in New York City that calculates the time we have left and what we must do to keep the planet within 1.5C warming, the black box does not measure the amount of time until we crash. Although it’s intended to collect data through the next 50 years, its creators are looking into ways to keep it running for hundreds or thousands of years. 

"The idea is if the Earth does crash as a result ofclimate change, this indestructible recording device will be there for whoever's left to learn from that," Jim Curtis of Clemenger BBDO, where the project was conceived, told ABC News.

The New York Times reported that the location of Tasmania was picked due to its “geopolitical and environmental safety” and the structure will be built to withstand natural threats such as weather occurrences and earthquakes.

Since COP26 in Glasgow, the black box has been collecting data and will continue to collect climate-related content from the past and future. While some scientists argue that there is very little evidence that global warming will result in human extinction, the black box’s website states that the project is meant for future generations to understand the steps it took to lead the earth into its demise and hold leaders accountable for their responsibilities.  

"How the story ends is completely up to us," reads the website. "Only one thing is certain, your actions, inactions, and interactions are now being recorded."


Defend the Planet

Earth’s New ‘Black Box’ Will Record Every Step of Our Climate Disaster

By Kate Nakamura