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Painting a Picture of Climate Change

Painting a Picture of Climate Change

To help explain to children the urgency of a warmer planet, a visual journalist created artwork with a playful approach.

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

Climate change can be an unsettling subject for anyone, but it can be downright frightening for children. To explain the topic to young people, The New York Times’s Climate desk published a guide, “Bad Future, Better Future,” which includes ways they can help the environment.

To make the subject a little more accessible, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, a visual journalist on the Graphics desk, created hand-painted illustrations using a type of watercolor called gouache. In an interview, she discussed the inspiration and intent behind the images. Her lightly edited answers are below.

Earth’s FutureHow the planet is changing, and what you can do about it.

How did this story come together?

I worked on a heavily illustrated piece that showed kids returning to school with masks and all of the ways that the classrooms were going to change. The visual style was different, and Hannah Fairfield, the editor of the Climate desk, reached out, saying she was interested in doing something similar to explain climate change to kids. We started kicking around some ideas, trying to figure out what would work well in this format. We landed on this idea: What would the future look like if we didn’t do anything and we continued on the path we’re taking now? And what would it look like if we made all these changes? We basically ended up with a kids’ book.

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