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Climate Clock

Raising Awareness of the Climate Deadline

March for Science NYC, the NYU MakerSpace and the NYU Vertical Farm project asked me in January of 2020 to fabricate a clock for them, meant to communicate exactly how little time we have left to minimize carbon emissions, based on data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on the "carbon budget" remaining before the Earth warms by 1.5 degrees Celsius. The idea for the clock is to have as many versions around the world as possible, with ours to be unveiled at Foley Square on April 19, 2020 at the March for Science event in New York City (unfortunately plans derailed by the pandemic). We had planned to test user interactions with our physical Maker Kit prototype (right), but due to COVID19 and our team working remotely, we switched to using a widget (bottom) instead to demonstrate how the size and scale of our response to climate change would impact carbon emissions and the increase in global temperature.

Through immense effort original artists, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd and their technical lead Adrian Carpenter, got the Clock to be displayed in Union Square in place of the iconic Metronome Clock for Climate Week NYC on September 19. The coverage by the NY Times, the Washington Post, and many others gained interest from makers around the world in building their own clocks. The team's current goal is to further develop the kit into a cheaper, more accessible version for everyone and, in collaboration with March for Science NYC, integrate it into a climate justice curriculum for local schools.

A more detailed explanation of our progress and some of my involvement can be found on the NYU MakerSpace blog.

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After that, the official Climate Clock team kept me on to design an easy-to-build, "maker" version of an enclosure for the clock. My design incorporated basic tools that can be found at most makerspaces - a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and a soldering iron. The 3D printed pieces, encasing the Raspberry Pi and holding the LED matrix panels in place, incorporate heat set brass inserts, to be melted into the plastic holes using a the soldering iron, to allow easy assembly and disassembly as the clock needs to be updated, without stripping the prints. The front wooden panels were laser cut and stained. The prototype of the final product earned a permanent spot on display in the NYU MakerSpace.

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Widget

A combination of the result of transitioning to remote during the project and wanting to pivot the messaging from doomsaying to something more hopeful, the full version of the widget (accessible on the Climate Clock website) expands to allow the user to input data points to see how global emissions levels and temperature patterns change. The messaging of this was developed with help from the NYU Prototyping Fund, and faculty advisor Professor Anne-Laure Fayard.