From: Bruce Sterling <>
Subject: Viridian Note 00147: Greenhouse Disaster Symbol
To: Viridian List <>


Key concepts: Viridian design contest, greenhouse
disasters, logos, symbolism, warning signs

Attention Conservation Notice: it's the latest in an ongoing series of Viridian design contests.

Links: Viridian contests archive:

Clever entries in somebody else's design contest, the "5Kilobyte webpage":

A new Viridian Individual Project by^^^* (John Weeks): John Weeks remarks: "It's a little primer on Solar Racing, which I consider to be the Viridian sport of the future. You'll notice it's in 14 point type, which makes it easier for the elderly to read."

A new Viridian Individual Project by^* (Maurits Burger): Maurits Burger remarks: "In 1896, Svante Arrhenius was the first person to predict the rise in Global Temperature as a result of burning fossil fuels. Since the Viridian Movement could use some broader historical basis, I would like to proclaim this fin de siecle, Nobel Prize winning Swedish scientist as the First Viridian prophet, mascot, holyman, shaman or saint. I therefore edited his picture to supply him with the proper Viridian graphic treatment."


The effects of the Greenhouse are subtle and manifold. You may, for instance, find yourself drowning or losing your roof. Your streets are full of gushing smoke from distant forests. Dams break. Glaciers vanish. Wildlife mysteriously disappears. Your ghetto has a multi-day electrical blackout as summer heat spikes fill the emergency rooms. You might even go broke from rising insurance rates.

There's no easy and immediate way for a passer-by to connect these many disasters to their coherent source: the Greenhouse Effect. Imagine that you were puking and losing your hair. A handy Nuclear Radiation symbol would make causation quite clear. An outbreak of cultured anthrax downwind from a BioHazard symbol would be no big mystery, either. But a Greenhouse Disaster lacks a simple, striking logo.

Since the health authorities are a little remiss in this matter, it's up to eager amateurs to make the invisible visible. This situation requires some very simple stencil, a wordless survival warning like a hobo's sign, that can be quickly chalked or sprayed onto a typical wrecked bridge or drowned beachhouse. This symbol should convey the useful message that this mishap is, in fact, no mishap. It is part-and-parcel of an ongoing Greenhouse crisis.

This simple, multinational symbol should be especially suited for use in the Third World, where literacy rates are low, communication is spotty, infrastructure is limited and disasters are especially spectacular.

Put your entry on the Web and send me the address. I will post it to the list. People who enter contests get a nice star <*> for their login name. The winner receives a 249-page, full-color copy of "ART AND SURVIVAL: The Illustrator and the Environment," sponsored by the United Nations Environmental Programme (in cooperation with Earth Island Institute and the Society of Illustrators). Foreword by Ray Bradbury, 1992.

This contest expires on May 31, 2000.

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