17/05/2018 14:42 SAST | Updated 17/05/2018 14:59 SAST

National Geographic's Clever New Cover Contains Chilling Warning About Plastics

“One of the best covers I’ve seen.”

National Geographic warns of the devastating effects that plastics are having on the planet with a clever cover for its June edition.

The cover image shows a plastic bag partially submerged in the ocean, resembling an iceberg:

The 18-billion pieces of plastic that end up in the ocean each year are "just the tip of the iceberg," the caption says.

National Geographic's senior photo editor, Vaughn Wallace, shared the image of the cover — created by Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa — on Twitter on Wednesday.

It's now going viral, with hundreds of people praising the publication for taking on the important topic in such a thought-provoking way:

National Geographic is launching a "Planet or Plastic?" campaign with the new issue, which aims to reduce global reliance on single-use plastics. As part of the initiative, National Geographic has swapped the magazine's plastic wrappers in the United States, United Kingdom and India with paper wrappers.

"Will eliminating a plastic magazine wrapper save the planet? Well, no. But it's an example of the kind of relatively easy action that every company, every government and every person can take," wrote editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg.

"And when you put it together, that adds up to real change," she added.

In February, a sperm whale was discovered dead off the coast of southeast Spain with 64 pounds of plastic trash inside its digestive system. Researchers predict that by 2025, up to 38-million bits of plastic waste could enter oceans annually, unless radical action is taken.