Good on Them

This 'black box' charting our climate tailspin looks cool, changes nothing

Construction is set to begin in Tasmania later this year. That’ll teach us.

Earth Black Box artist rendering
Earth Black Box

We’re on literal thin ice and, unfortunately, it’s probably going to have to get a lot worse before society is properly mobilized to address climate change on a systemic level. Regardless of the probability of our survival as a species, there is at least some grim comfort in the knowledge that the empirical data pertaining to our existential decisions will be archived in multiple locations and mediums across the globe for whoever remains and/or comes after us to survey our wanton consumption. It may not be sexy, it may not even be poetic, but it will be there for future reflection and consideration.

That said, please pardon our pessimism when it comes to the Earth Black Box. The project aims to record “hundreds of data sets, measurements, and interactions relating to the health of our planet” 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.” Yeah, that’ll show all those fat cats in the fossil fuel industry.

Well, it will at least fit in appropriately for our Mad Max hellscape future.Earth Black Box

Style over substance — The entire archive apparently will be stored behind three inches of steel within a hip, brutalist structure to be built in Tasmania later this year, and include data on ocean acidification, energy consumption, carbon emissions, global temperature changes, and news from major environmental conferences. The entire structure will reportedly be solar-powered, and capable of gathering its datasets for the next 30 to 50 years.

“How the story ends is completely up to us,” reads the Earth Black Box website before warning, “Only one thing is for certain, your actions, inactions, and interactions are now being recorded.

We’re getting serious “‘Dear Theodosia’ on January 6” vibes from this thing.

Noble intentions — Look, it’s not that we think people shouldn’t be doing all they can to bring more attention to the dire situation we find ourselves in as a species. Logging the kinds of data that the Earth Black Box group lists is certainly helpful in some respect, and almost certainly being done in multiple locations across the globe as we speak. Putting said data inside a theatrically fashionable structure in a semi-remote location staring down some of climate change’s worst effects, though, just doesn’t strike us as the most appropriate ways to draw attention to the issues at hand.