April 19, 2008

This week, and for the second time in its 85-year history, TIME magazine leaves the red border behind in favor of the green border to celebrate Earth Day and the war on global warming. The only other time TIME left the red border behind was when it issued a special edition after Sept. 11, 2001. TIME took a page from its departed sister LIFE which did the same during its long history with the white LIFE in a red box. LIFE changed the red color twice in its lifetime: the issue after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy (Nov. 29, 1963) when black replaced red, and on Earth Day (May 1990) when green replaced red.

When a color is your trademark, you tend not to mess with it. However, Richard Stengel, TIME’s managing editor writes in this week’s issue,

“This is our third annual special issue on the environment but also a historic first: for this one issue, we’ve exchanged our trademarked Red Border for a green one. By doing so, we are sending a clear — and colorful — message to our readers about the importance of this subject, not just to Americans but to everyone else around the world as well.”

By the way, TIME managing editor will deliver the third annual Stuart Bullion Memorial Lecture at the campus of The University of Mississippi on Monday April 21 at 9:00 a.m. His topic: Reinventing TIME. Click here for more details.


  1. Wow. When I saw the green border, I thought: Time magazine really gets it.

    But when I read the articles, I was disappointed, too much same old, same old. Not enough revolutionary thinking about how America needs to get beyond its car-centered suburban dreams. The elements are almost there. There’s an article called “Lessons from Germany”, with a telling comment: “Between 1990 and 2005, Germany’s total greenhouse gas emissions declined 18%; in the same period in the US, they went up 16%.”

    Time attributes that difference to implementation, and in particular to Germany widespread use of renewable sources of energy. That is part of the story. But it is also about political will. Germany has long had a powerful Green Party, and it is also about Germany’s more sustainable living arrangement. Here’s an interesting comparison, which I have picked up from architect Norman Foster: Munich is about twice as dense as Detroit, and with this difference the citizens of Munich use one-tenth as much energy per capita as America. The density means shorter journeys, of course, but it is more than that.

    If America is going to get serious about saving energy, and addressing global warming, Americans are going to have to drive FAR LESS than they do at present. That is going to mean more efficient cars, higher gasoline taxes, and most importantly, a restructuring of America’s suburbs. The sooner that the wasteful country gets on with this important task, the better for it and the better for the world. Meantime, in a gloabl economy, where Americans have to compete with properous Chinese and Indians for scarcer oil, the doillar price of oil is going to keep rising until America wakes up.

    Time Magazine talks about a coming Green War. But like bad Bush regime, it is fighting the wrong battles with the wrong weapons. The magazine has a role to play in getting the facts aligned where they need to be: against the suburban lifestyle. A strong debate would make for a better result, and maybe even an eventual victory complacency, waste, over-consumption, and thoughtless planning.

  2. […] Day: Morgan Clendaniel on Good magazine’s blog wraps-up the Earth Day 2008 events. Mr. Magazine talks about how TIME Magazine, for the second time in its 85-year history, left its red border […]

  3. […] shown through the example of the cultural icon, Time, which changed its trademark red border for a green one for Earth Day 2008. Time had only changed its borders once before, for the September 11th […]

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