National Geographic’s Newest Cover Has Two Different Meanings–Which Do You See First?

Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa has a strong message to share about the state of the planet, and National Geographic was happy to share it as its latest cover. Gamboa’s striking image landed as the cover image for the June 2018 issue as National Geographic launches its “Planet or Plastic?” initiative. The magazine’s senior photo editor, Vaughn Wallace, first shared the image on Twitter, eliciting praise for the artist. 

Looking at Gamboa’s cover image, what do you see? A harmless iceberg, floating aimlessly in the middle of the ocean or an oversized plastic bag that? The artwork, titled Iceberg Plastico, is intended to suggest that the world’s plastic pollution is simply the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to cleaning up our planet.

National Geographic’s “Planet or Plastic” initiative is dedicated to shining the light on our dependency on plastic and what it’s doing to Earth. Articles like “We Depend on Plastic. Now, We’re Drowning In It” and “10 Shocking Facts About Plastic” hope to outline the dangers of continued plastic use to educate readers on alternative materials. 

Through “Planet or Plastic,” National Geographic has revealed that “some 9 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year.” In a tweet posted to its official Twitter account, the magazine asks readers: “Will you choose #PlanetOrPlastic?” As National Geographic’s manager of social media intelligence revealed, the magazine is already starting to take an initiative by providing its employees with metal straws. 

Gamboa’s cover image isn’t going unnoticed, either. Social media has picked up on the striking depiction of the dangers of plastic with people calling it “one for the ages,” “a great way to convey the message,” and “powerful.” 

Is Gamboa’s striking image powerful enough to change our ways? One can only hope.

H/T: National Geographic, Twitter