Daily Insights

Earth Day’s Fiery Forecast

By: Mackenzie Baker | Apr 21, 2020

National Geographic is gearing up for Earth Day with a digitally futuristic cover. 

The brand’s April 2020 issue features an augmented reality-enabled cover that, when opened with a user’s front-facing camera, displays a cautionary tale of climate change. Readers unlocking the augmented cover are transferred to Instagram, where they can discover the whole experience. Using Instagram, National Geographic created an experience that could drive awareness of the brand’s cause, according to a Gartner report. The AR cover takes a look at climate change projections for a dozen cities around the world to show how dismal these cities may look fifty years from now. Twelve cities—including Miami, Florida, Jakarta, Indonesia, and St. Petersburg, Russia—can be clicked on to display current climate data. 

National Geographic has created a matching AR experience for those reading the April issue from their phones, rather than in print. Articles on smartphones will include a black-and-yellow globe icon users can click to open the interactive experience on Instagram. The brand has also created a shortcut on its Instagram Stories where users can find “The World in 2070” filter from their app cameras. National Geographic made the cover a 360-degree experience wherein the Earth and clouds rotate, the Earth can be scaled to any size, and viewers can “walk around” the world to see different locations. The brand also included city comparisons on its filters—for example, users can click on Los Angeles and see that in 2070, the city is projected to have the same climate that Quezzane, Morocco has today. While some of the data could be distressing to users, National Geographic is using the interactive experience as an educational tool to raise awareness about the effects of climate change.

While global pollution rates have dropped as a result of international lockdowns, National Geographic is giving viewers a look at what the world could be like if nothing changes after the Coronavirus pandemic.