Have you done something nice for your planet today? It’s Earth Day.
Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, many positive environmental protection victories have occurred. We have phased out cancer-causing asbestos, took the lead out of gasoline, banned toxic DDT and PCBs, cleaned up waterways enough so that rivers don’t spontaneously burst into flames, made progress plugging the ozone hole, saved the bald eagle and the black-footed ferret from extinction, instituted measures to design “green” buildings, among other positive achievements.
Despite these noteworthy improvements, the earth is not in the clear. Human use of fossil fuels have largely caused carbon dioxide levels to rise by 46 percent in the last century. Higher atmospheric temperatures are causing the polar ice cap to melt and sea levels to rise. The earth’s glaciers are losing up to 390 billion tons of ice and snow a year. Nearly 100 billion plastic bags are used in America every year. The world’s scientists say that there is a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of climate change.
Many industry watchdog agencies are taking action and certifying products and companies that follow responsible environmental practices, acknowledged their efforts by giving them the right to display “seal of approval” labels on their products. Today there are literally hundreds of green product certification labels in the U.S. alone. This little quiz challenges your knowledge of a few of them.
This public service ad by the World Wildlife Fund in Belgium needs no translation. Created by VVL BBDO in Brussels, “The Melting Earth” ad is a metaphor that works across all cultures and even communicates in a way that children can understand. The text in the boxed space warns: “The first signs of global warming are now clearly visible. We urgently need to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Nothing and no one will be spared from climate change….” As much as the image communicates the point instantly, what’s needed are follow-up ads/posters/booklets that spell out pragmatic steps that each individual can take. It’s not just a a problem for the world or a nation to solve. It demands action on all of our parts. But the public needs more guidance on what we as individuals can do to lick this problem before we suffer an irreversible meltdown.
Those of us who are concerned about climate change finally have a slogan and graphic identity to rally around, thanks to design legend Milton Glaser.
The campaign’s slogan — “It’s Not Warming, It’s Dying” — doesn’t mince words about what’s ultimately at stake for the earth if we don’t get a grip on global warming. Done in conjunction with New York’s School of Visual Arts (SVA), where Glaser is acting chairman and a faculty member, the campaign aims to spark action on climate change through the distribution of lapel buttons featuring a graphic symbol, designed by Glaser. The logo represents the earth as seen from outer space, with the lush green disappearing into an ominous black. To reinforce the sense of a dying planet, the green swath is printed in ghostly glow-in-the-dark ink. Like his iconic “I (heart) NY” image, Glaser’s climate change logo is powerful in its directness and simplicity.
SVA is spearheading this social awareness campaign by offering Glaser’s dying planet logo as a lapel button ($5 for 5 buttons) so wearers can visibly express their concern for the planet. Up until now, the global warming deniers have been the most vocal in expressing their views, while those who believe that the climate is changing have mostly relied on scientific papers, panels of experts citing data, and Power Point-laden documentaries (a la Al Gore) to present their reasoned arguments. It’s time to be seen. If enough people around the world are seen wearing Glaser’s button, politicians and policymakers cannot easily dismiss these constituents as a minority of alarmists.
Monday the world reached an important milestone. The global population hit seven billion people, with the birth of a 5.5 pound baby girl in the Philippines. In anticipation of topping the seven billion mark, National Geographic Magazine has been presenting a year-long editorial series on population, with articles and videos on how this affects demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends and managing biodiversity. This is one of its videos. By the way, since Monday’s historic event, the world population has gone up by more than a half million people and is climbing by about five births a second.
This animated video on climate change comes from the WWF Brazil. It’s part of a trilogy titled “Pense de Novo,” or “Think Again.” Without voiceover or text, the 30-second video shows how humans have managed to pollute the planet. As we commemorate Earth Day on Friday, it is something to think about…again.