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A Man, an Icon, a Message: Milton Glaser v. Climate Change Skeptics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 6 2014


Can an icon save us from catastrophic climate change? That is the hope behind a new campaign launched last month by Milton Glaser, the designer who created the “I (heart) NY” logo. The campaign seeks to derail the current climate change “debate” in favor of a stronger message: “It's not warming it's dying.” To accompany that message, Glaser created a starkly simple icon of a green circle nearly entirely eclipsed by a black shadow.

A good part of Glaser's motivation is to combat self-interested parties who deny climate change.

"If you say the earth is coming to an end," Glaser told told Brian Lehrer, "somebody will immediately say 'no, no there's a dentist in New Jersey who says it isn't' and before you know it, it is not a fact but a subject of argument."

Five dollars will get you five buttons featuring that image. Glaser explained to Lehrer that the hope is that the campaign will go viral (one of those buttons is for you, four are for your friends) and that if in a couple of weeks half the world is wearing one, “the concern can no longer be denied.” As the campaign website puts it “Even politicians will understand.”

Glaser is encouraging people to post selfies with the button on social media using the hashtag #itsnotwarming.

The hashtag is also already being used by other climate change activists, like Climate Ride, to post about related events.

The idea of rallying behind a button campaign is almost quaint in this technological age, but it strongly reminds me of another, equally simple campaign (without the buttons) that did go viral: the
Red Equals Sign promoted by the Human Rights Campaign as a sign of support for marriage equality. That, however, was timed to coincide with the Supreme Court debate on California's Prop 8.

Still, I could envision something similar happening with the ominous black and green circle Glaser has designed. But only if people are told to show their support in that way.

Whether Glaser's It's Not Warming campaign will find as much traction when its goals are less concrete (what is awareness anyway?) remains to be seen. But if anyone can rally the world around a green and black button, it's the man who made the world fall in (heart) with New York.