(itsnotwarming.com gif by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Global warming is a phrase that pops up just about everywhere, ensuring that we confront our planet’s worsening climate changes. Designer Milton Glaser, however, is aiming to stress that the reality of the environmental situation is much worse than the term ‘warming’ would suggest.

Best known for creating the ubiquitous I ♥ NY logo in the 1970s, Glaser recently designed a series of buttons as part of a new campaign, which adopts the slogan “It’s Not Warming, It’s Dying” to send and spread a weighty message of the planet’s decline.

“There is no more significant issue on earth than its survival,” Glaser told Dezeen. “The questions is, ‘How can anyone not be involved?’”

Representing Earth, the button is simple, colored mostly black with a glow-in-the-dark sliver of lime green bordering one edge to represent “the disappearance of light.” The designs are currently selling online for $5 in packs of five to encourage their dissemination, and all proceeds go towards costs of shipping and production of more buttons.

Glaser expressed his hope that an increased presence of his button will move “the masters of the universe” — politicians and influential corporations, that is — to action. The campaign, which has been tweeting climate change reports, also employs the hashtag #itsnotwarming to encourage buyers to promote the cause by posting photos of themselves wearing the button to their social media accounts.

Despite Glaser’s good intentions, our planet is warming and actually isn’t dying, inaccuracies numerous publications have pointed out. Grist even links to a talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson in which he says, “Earth will survive this … earth will be here long enough after we render ourselves extinct.” 

The original poster for the 1979 sci-fi film Alien (via Wikipedia)

The original poster for the 1979 sci-fi film Alien (via Wikipedia)

Imprecisions aside, the visuals of the button aren’t exactly compelling, especially for a product intending to influence a movement as monumental as this one. Presenting such a stripped down design, Glaser isn’t offering any hints to his campaign’s purpose; the logo doesn’t spark associations to the meanings it is supposed to embody. If I saw the button on the street, I wouldn’t recognize the positive change Glaser is attempting to kindle, especially through such a dark, somber illustration. While the glowing green may evoke toxic waste, the color more quickly brings to mind sci-fi related imagery, like the poster for the classic Alien (1979) movie. The entire pin, in fact, could resemble a mystifying planet, breeding more indifference than inspiration.

In comparison, the moving graphic on the website (and translated into a GIF at the top of this post) does a fair job of representing with simplicity the enveloping of the planet by toxins through an animated black cloud that washes over the verdant area — unfortunately, this can’t be easily translated through a badge.

In this age when we’re inundated with imagery, a logo only has the power to influence culture when it actually triggers recognition of its goals. Sadly, Glaser’s image simply falls flat.

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

3 replies on “Man Behind I NY Tries Branding Climate Change”

  1. I’m not too sure I appreciate the bashing of a green person’s effort. There are not enough green people on this earth, period. Why give an art school critique and undermine his good intentions?

    1. Because good intentions might not be enough? That Grist article suggests this slogan might do more harm than good. The planet is warming and it’s not dying. Language is important. There are too many people denying any warming to run around creating more confusion with the phrase ‘it’s not warming’ I’d say. I wanted to like this, but I don’t agree with this message.

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