For years, the lone polar bear stranded on a modest piece of floating ice has been the symbol of warming oceans. The documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, popularized the image in 2006. But as global atmospheric and ocean temperatures continue to rise, other canaries are beginning to chirp in the coal mine of global warming. Coral is the newest face for climate change because of the bright molecules it emits as a sunscreen when encountering conditions like fatally warm water or harsh ultraviolet rays.
The process is called fluorescence, and it is the subject of a new campaign from The Ocean Agency, Adobe and the Pantone Color Institute. Central to the campaign is a set of colors Pantone created from the neon compounds.
Bright purple, yellow and blue are the colors coral has been fluorescing off the coast of New Caledonia — the colors glow like a flare in the sky. The image is both beautiful and alarming. In 2016, The Ocean Agency traveled to the archipelago to photograph the phenomenon as part of the documentary Chasing Coral.
Three years later, a partnership between Adobe, the Pantone Color Institute and The Ocean Agency has produced “Glowing, Going, Gone,” a campaign to raise awareness about rising ocean temperatures with a color palette to match.
Glowing Yellow, Glowing Blue and Glowing Purple are the three colors Pantone carefully selected from the dying coral for Glowing, Going, Gone, in hopes that designers will use the palette in their artwork.
The campaign begins this month with a challenge for artists to use the Pantone colors to create art and designs that people can’t ignore. Selected pieces will be showcased in New York’s Times Square, at ocean and climate policy conferences and events, on social media and elsewhere.
Creating an entire campaign about stressed coral reefs can be beneficial not only to our oceans’ biodiversity, but also to our global economy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contends that coral reefs contribute $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy via tourism, fisheries, protecting coastlines from erosion and much more.
Warm water and intense sunlight can induce coral bleaching — the process by which coral expels its symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) and becomes more vulnerable to stressors. Bleaching threatens all of coral’s industries and services.
The inconvenient truth is that, by 2030, scientists expect 60 percent of the earth’s coral reefs to be highly or critically threatened.
Glowing, Going, Gone is an excellent example of two brands taking a stand with a nonprofit. The partnership between The Ocean Agency, Adobe and the Pantone Color Institute began with some synchronicity. Before Adobe approached Pantone to create these colors, Pantone had already chosen “Living Coral” as the color of 2019, Laurie Pressman, Vice-President of the Pantone Color Institute, told TriplePundit. Pantone enthusiastically joined the team.
Pantone’s simple and memorable color scheme can push this climate campaign to become bigger than a fleeting fad.
The hope is that Glowing Yellow, Glowing Blue and Glowing Purple will become as memorable as color campaigns like the rainbow of LGBT Pride. This June, for LGBT Pride Month, businesses and brands around the world are taking the time to add the rainbow to products, storefronts, even logos. Most people understand these colors to be a symbol of solidarity.
Pressman imagines neon sneakers or shirts – basic daily items – that use the “Glowing” colors will be most effective at establishing the new meaning of this color combination in our visual language.
Does this color activism for climate end with Glowing, Going, Gone?
Pressman doubts that. She told TriplePundit she imagines there will be many more opportunities for the Pantone Color Institute to partner with climate, conservation and sustainability causes to create “emblematic associations” that will alert people to Earth’s cries for help.
Image credit: Egor Kamelev/Pexels
Roya Sabri is a writer and graphic designer based in Illinois. She writes about the circular economy, advancements in CSR, the environment and equity. As a freelancer, she has worked on communications for nonprofits and multinational organizations. Find her on LinkedIn.