Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The box, a steel and granite monolith, will be filled with hard drives to record everything we say right up until our civilisation falls, so future civilisations can learn from our mistakes.
Earth is getting a black box to record our climate change actions, and it’s already started listening
On a granite-strewn plain, surrounded by gnarled mountains, sits a giant steel box.
Incongruous in the landscape, much like Kubrick’s black monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, its alien presence suggests it was put there with intent.
And if those that discover it can decipher the messages it contains, they could get a glimpse of what caused the fall of the civilisation that was there before.
This is Earth’s Black Box.
‘First and foremost, it’s a tool’
When an aeroplane crashes, it’s left to investigators to sift through the wreckage to recover the black box.
It’s hoped the recorded contents can be used to help others avoid the same fate.
And so it is with Earth’s Black Box: a 10-metre-by-4-metre-by-3-metre steel monolith that’s about to be built on a remote outcrop on Tasmania’s west coast.
If that sounds unhinged, it’s worth remembering that we’re currently on track for as much as 2.7C of warming this century.
Ask any climate scientist what happens when warming breaches 2C, and they’ll almost invariably tell you it’s not worth thinking about.
Those who have discovered the black box — now the colour of rust, its solar panels long since dead — have got no frame of reference for what they find inside or how to decipher it.
So now what?
Gaining access to the box’s interior through its three-inch-thick steel casing will already require some ingenuity.
The developers presume whoever is capable of that will also be able to interpret basic symbols.
“Like the Rosetta Stone, we would look to use multiple formats of encoding,” they said.
Tasmania, despite its remote location, is an interesting place. Tasmania has an abundance of fine wine and food, an extraordinarily delicious native honey, tribes of radical environmentalists who rarely leave their campsites deep in the woods, and a really potent variety of hallucinogenic mushrooms which only grow in Tasmania.
And now Tasmania is going to have a black box to record the fall of our civilisation from climate change.