News: Snapchat Celebrates Earth Day with Sobering Augmented Reality Look at Rising Sea Levels

Snapchat Celebrates Earth Day with Sobering Augmented Reality Look at Rising Sea Levels

In an effort to raise awareness regarding the impact of emissions on the environment, Snap has partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme to use augmented reality to show how much ocean levels will rise over the next 80 years.

For the entirety of Earth Day, Snapchat is hosting an interactive Lens (built via Lens Studio) that fills the camera view with animated water. A slider on the left side of the screen lets users adjust the year from 2019 up to 2100, with the global sea level rising in conjunction.

Images via Snap

Clicking the "more" button carries users to the UN Environment Programme's webpage on climate change for more information.

According to a Snap spokesperson, the AR experience is based on data from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts that oceans will rise between 10 and 30 inches by 2100. The IPCC report also uses data from NASA, which estimates an increase of 26 inches based on current trends.

It's not all doom and gloom from Snapchat, though. The carousel also includes a pair of more positive camera effects for Earth Day, one for selfies and another for the rear camera.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

The heady content is a bit of departure from the usual AR content found on Snapchat. In fact, it's more reminiscent of the recent examples of AR journalism.

The UN Lens would fit in well alongside AR experiences like the investigative report on chemical warfare in Syria from The New York Times, the exposé on corruption in Chicago from USA Today, or the special issue from Time magazine, which was guest-edited by Bill Gates and focused on humanitarian issues.

Snap's flexibility in handling sensitive content could open up another avenue of advertising for Snapchat a year ahead of a pivotal 2020 election cycle in the US. Then again, maybe Snap doesn't want to wade into the same muck that Facebook and Google faced in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

Cover image via Climate Central/YouTube (*The above animation screenshot is not displayed in the Snapchat app)

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