Climate change is likely the biggest threat facing mankind at the moment. Despite constant reminders and warnings from climate researchers and scientists, we are unable to change course.
The primary mission of newspaper Helsingin Sanomat is to help its readers understand the world better. Climate change and its impact is strongly present in the paper’s reporting but since the discussion surrounding the phenomenon has been going on for decades, it is easy for readers to become desensitized to the situation.
The coronavirus pandemic has proven that when faced with an imminent threat, humanity can take swift action. However, a slowly-progressing complex entity like climate change is too hard to grasp to trigger the same effect in scale. There is a need to find new and pattern-breaking ways of communicating about climate change and its implications.
Describe the creative idea (40% of vote)
Since people are poorly-equipped to react to slow changes, a solution was needed that could summarize decade-long developments to be experienced in seconds.
From a newspaper’s perspective, the printed word is the archetype of delivering information but even simpler still are the characters that make it. Hence the solution: a typeface that could present climate change’s impact over time through its various weights.
The climate crisis font is an OpenType variable font whose design and size changes in accordance to the NSIC’s satellite data on Arctic Sea ice from 1979 to 2019 and the IPCC’s forecast until 2050, each year representing a specific data point.
It is meant to resensitize the readers of Helsingin Sanomat to the scale and implications of climate change but also to act as a tool and platform for anyone to communicate about these matters.
Describe the execution (40% of vote)
The font’s design relies strongly on data and what it represents. The design is based on the metaphor of disappearing ice sheets with each character melting away as the weight changes from heavy to light.
The data was implemented into the design by assigning the 1979 NSIDC data point as the base level for the heaviest weight. The following data points would then determine the specific design in relation to the base level. For instance, the 1990 weight melts away as much as the Arctic Sea ice extent had diminished from 1979 to 1990. Thus, the lightest weight, 2050, represents a mere 30 % area of the base value, as predicted by the IPCC report. The OpenType variable font technology allowed the design to follow this data seamlessly from heavy to light.
Helsingin Sanomat has used the font in its climate-related reporting and it is available for anyone to use.
List the results (20% of vote)
So far the Climate Crisis Font has +6500 direct downloads from the campaign site. Later in the spring, it will also be turned into a Google system font, after which it will be available for all Google Suite users. Through increasing usage the font will further awareness and understanding regarding climate change.
It has already been used in advertising (in addition to Helsingin Sanomat itself) selling climate-friendly meat substitutes, and in music videos, such as the “Second Notice” by Mikko Karjalainen Fellowship Quintet with climate change -related spoken word performance by Finnish front row hip-hop artist Paleface.
Additionally, It is being acquired by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum for their “Responsive Collection Initiative”.
The campaign has gained +800 000 euros in earned media and 26% of surveyed respondents in the primary target group for Helsingin Sanomat stated that the font and its related campaign increased their interest to subscribe.