Climate change still has vocal doubters and even for those who understand that it is a problem, it’s still a ponderous issue. The largest newspaper in the Nordics, Helsingin Sanomat, and agency, TBWA\Helsinki are helping to clear through its complexities. Everyone has to grasp the problem to make the world safe.
Last spring when the whole world went into lockdown, carbon dioxide emissions quickly plummeted. Although by June the emissions had already bounced back1, this shows that change is possible with rapid and radical actions. Humans are however not wired to tackle complex and long-term threats, such as climate change, with such intensity.
To overcome this obstacle, Helsingin Sanomat has published a font to visualise climate change and its impact. The font shows how Arctic sea ice is predicted to shrink due to climate change. The font’s weight varies according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s (NSIDC) data from 1979 to 2019 and continues with IPCC’s projection³ until 2050. In other words, every headline, comment or article written with the font will exemplify the real impact of climate change on the extent of arctic sea ice.
“Our mission is to make complex matters comprehensible and since seeing is believing we wanted to bolster the conversations on climate change with something concrete and instantly understandable. These kinds of new methods of journalistic storytelling also complement our recent investments in data journalism. Yet, we don’t just want to keep it to ourselves, which is why we are giving it out for free and hope to see it in use elsewhere as well,” stated Tuomas Jääskeläinen, art director at Helsingin Sanomat.
The OpenType variable font was designed by TBWA\Helsinki and type designers, Eino Korkala and Daniel Coull. The heaviest font weight represents the minimum extent of the Arctic sea ice in the year 1979, when satellite measuring began. The lightest weight represents IPCC’s 2050 forecast, when the Arctic sea ice minimum is expected to have shrunk to only 30 % of the 1979 extent.
“To leave no room for doubt we used data based on satellite images. This way we were able to create one of the first data-based fonts ever. The OpenType variable font mechanism allowed the design to follow the data perfectly. But we of course wanted to make the font usable for all platforms, so we also created the basic font types with a standard set of font weights, explained Juhana Hokkanen, innovation director of TBWA\Helsinki.
The font is freely available for download here. Helsingin Sanomat recently used the font itself in a collection of its climate change articles published during 1979–2020. The collection shows how attitudes towards climate change have changed over the years in relation to its progress and the dwindling Arctic sea ice. Helsingin Sanomat plans to use the font in its future articles covering climate crisis and encourages anyone covering the same topic to download the font and make use of it
Helsingin Sanomat is committed to tackling climate change (as well as press freedom). In 2019, it appointed a climate correspondent to report on climate change. The same year the paper presented pens with ink made out of carbon dioxide to members of the Finnish parliament and G20 leaders to remind them of the urgency of climate action. The paper is already known for its The Land of Free Press campaign welcoming Trump and Putin to Helsinki in 2018. They previously handed The Climate Pen with ink made of CO2 to the G20 leader and the Finnish Parliament.
Download the font and read more here. www.TypeToAct.com