MIT projects climate clock onto building starting on Earth Day

The clock shows several key climate change and emissions figures.

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A new climate clock is being projected onto the side of a building at MIT every night through April 30 in an effort to bring awareness to ongoing environmental concerns.

The clock is projected onto the side of the Green building, or MIT Building 54, every night beginning at 5 p.m. through 5 a.m. the next morning. It made its debut on April 22, or Earth Day, according to MIT.

The clock shows four different figures: the goal to limit the Earth’s temperature increase to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit; the CO2 emissions budget in tonnes of CO2, which is how much can be released while still trying to maintain at least a 66 percent chance of having average temperature increases at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit; the deadline, or the time left to keep the temperature increase at that level — some estimates suggest it’s about seven years; and the percentage of world energy that is renewable – about 12.2 percent now with continued increases.


A similar clock went on display in New York City last September in Union Square. MIT says plans for their clock began in the spring of 2020 with MIT lecturer Susan Murcott and some students.

“Together, these numbers motivate us to do more – to raise awareness, to find solutions, to make our world more livable and more sustainable,” the MIT D-Lab said in a blog post. “The MIT community, whether it’s students, faculty, staff or alumni, is already seeking ways to face the climate challenge. Our team created the MIT Climate Clock to signal the urgency of climate action to our community and beyond.”


The projector setup, meanwhile, uses about the same amount of electricity as a laptop computer, according to Murcott.

The clock, while it’s scheduled for its final projection in a few days, is just the first installment in what Murcott says could, hopefully, be more projections in the future. She said she and the rest of the group hope to continue to have projections through the remaining six years and nearly 250 days until the world hits the deadline for its CO2 budget.

Students are currently working on designing what those future images could look like.

“They’re really good at doing mockups of projections,” Murcott said. “They’re very good at visualizing and communicating data and images.”


Another goal is to have similar projections on other college and university campuses. It’s a way for “people to get that consciousness in their lives,” she noted.

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