The 1,000 Year Project aims to create a sustainability culture & document future-history.
A detailed record of environmental history to inspire future generations.
Time-Lapse: Phase One
Our time-lapse plan is multi-phase. We are currently in phase one, where we are using multiple small cameras with connectivity to stash the photos to a remote server. We’ll do this for a couple of trees during this first phase, tracking each tree for one to 10 years. In this phase, we hope to learn as much as possible about automated time-lapse photography spanning many years.
Phases two and three will be built from our learning during each previous phase. Some anticipated differences: (1) our time spans will be greater, and (2) our camera quality will be much higher.
1,000 Year Project Plan
Our environment is changing course, and as individuals, we don’t share the same definition of “a long time” as many of the organisms we coexist with. For many of us, a long time is 20, 50, maybe even 100 years. For many trees, 100 years is just a moment in time. Take for example, the redwood tree cross section found at the Trees of Mystery in northern California. The same tree that saw the founding of the United States of America (a long time ago), was also alive during the Crusades (difficult to comprehend-time ago).
We can cut the tree down and count the rings. We can analyze their width to understand their growth over the years, we can pull carbon samples to better understand the environment as it changed, but we can’t watch them grow and change with their environment in high resolution, live detail. As humans, history beyond a few generations begins to feel to us, like legend.
What if, we could count the rings of a tree, not by cutting it down, but by watching a time-lapse video of photos or 3D scans? What if we could overlay a timeline more personal to us, such as our own genealogy? Could the scale of time that feels real to each of us change? What if we had fine details of long-term environmental changes, and could compare them directly to the growth and change of an organism – choosing which data to overlay and compare with each study?
The 1,000 Year Project aims to track fine details of the life of organisms that grow and perish during a lifespan of roughly 1,000 years.
Imagine having the ability to travel back in time to see a giant tree when it was just sprouting 1,000 years ago. Being able to pick a point in the past 500 years and virtually exploring a beautiful coral reef. Now, imagine if you could type your name into a computer and select the day your great-great-grandmother was born – just to see the creatures that lived in the same structure. What if we could look back on salinity, wind speed, temperature, moisture, pressure, nitrate levels, and just about anything in the environment; and compare it to the life of that ancient organism? Since we cannot look back to see the all environmental details and visuals during the Crusades, we will look forward to those who will want to look back on us. We are documenting future history.
Documenting Future History
Making records available for future generations
Documenting long-living organisms will take more than simply recording the weather, setting up a camera, stitching some photos together, and enjoying the results. It will take an infrastructure to record visual and physical aspects, environmental variables in the air, water, and in the ground; all over a time-span much greater than a single human will live, longer than the recording equipment will last, longer than the recording media will survive, and more than 4 times longer than the US government has been established.
With daily recording of variables such as temperature, humidity, carbon levels, nitrate levels, soil humidity, etc., we will be able to compare environmental components against the health of the organisms. In the case of the Archangel Tree Project, they are reviving the strongest known trees. The 1,000 Year Project will be able to measure the same environments supporting trees with strong DNA against more common trees. We’ll track, in real-time, what makes an ancient organism strong and healthy, and we’ll grow our knowledge as caretakers of the Earth.
For our current moment in time, it’s less important, what we do with the data, and more important that we collect, store, and make the data available to the world. As time progresses, the data will become more useful, technology will advance, and the organization will begin tracking more organisms in different environments. As the technology improves, we’ll have access to a higher granularity of data, with new ways to display and present the data. The 1,000 Year Project may choose to position ourselves on the forefront of the development of that tech through the establishment of grants for students in the tech world.
First things first – We need to establish a network of the right people to help make the right decisions. Some of those great minds will be people who work in forestry, oceanography, technology, or other inspired individuals. We’ve also found that an open discussion on what it takes to record and store data, or the details of sustaining an organization over 1,000 years opens minds in ways people never imagined. They quickly become energized, and that’s an invaluable resource! We plan to get people engaged around the concept of long-term sustainability, and how to overcome the associated challenges. This network of experts and open-minded individuals will not just watch the project grow, they will be involved in making the decisions that help sustain and add value to the organization. The Archangel Tree Project team has a sign in their office that reads “Propagate the propagators”, which is exactly how we’ll build a world culture of strong environmental stewardship.
Call to Action
The 1,000 Year Project needs your help!
If your education and focus is in the forestry sciences, we need to connect with you! We’re currently in the early stages of planning, and right now, we don’t know everything we don’t know. We need to build our network of dendrochronologists, arborists, and those who have a passion for old trees (and eventually other disciplines). Not only do we need to understand what environmental data to collect, we also need to know how to measure tree output.
Perhaps you’re area of expertise is in Long-Term Data Storage, Electronics, or PLC Controllers – We need you too! The 1,000 Year Project team will need to overcome the modern problem of the relatively short life-span of hard drives. We need to learn the best methods to network our sensors from remote locations. We’ll be developing data succession and transition plans for file formats – we hope JPEG doesn’t last for the next 1,000 years. Imperial units? Unlikely, but Metric? We’ll find out. Join us in making these decisions!
Have experience operating a nonprofit? We’re passionate about the project, but we aren’t lawyers, accountants, or experts in nonprofit organizations. We’re looking to expand our board with individuals who have experience in these disciplines which also have a passion for environment sciences!
Don’t have experience, but you’re called to help drive the study of long-living organisms? The 1,000 Year Project is currently funded out of the founder’s pocket. Donations are greatly needed to help us drive the project forward, purchase equipment, and establish this project as just the beginning of our future-history.