DebateThe colour green shouldn’t be a signal colour

The colour green shouldn’t be a signal colour

Reading time: | Finally, Summer’s arrived. That’s the time when our joy for the plant’s growing foliage wears out and is taken for granted. The Spring’s signal colour green turns into its regular role as a consumption colour.

Summer is also the time when the great variety of the leaves’ green becomes invisible to us. (To understand what signal colours and consumption colours are, I recommend my article on Consumption Colours.)

When plants show their first leaves in early Spring, I find myself questioning my cognitive colour theory. Because like me, many other people get excited about the colour green and understand it temporarily as a signal colour and not as a consumption colour. At that time, we feel green as the colour of cosmic rejuvenation, or, less esoteric, as a signal and reminder that nature does what it can do so grandiosely: grow and renew.

This signal power makes green so prominent in Spring. But when Springtime moves on and becomes Summer, the abundance of green turns green into a colour of less prominence and finally makes it a commodity we only recognise when it’s gone.

Green in a garden. Interesting that the out-of-focus blossom in signal-colour peach dominates the picture. The green leaves, though partly in focus, play no role. Photography: Hans von Sonntag

That is happening when we see the dreadful consequence of climate warming in our woodlands; very pronounced and bitterly to see in early summer when the green is not coming back, and brown spots remain.

Woods in Palatine Forest, Germany, May 2021. Most of the trees which died of thirst and bark beetle are already dragged out. Photograpy: Hans von Sonntag

On a trip to the Palatinate Forest, I took some photos that show the harbingers of a dire future when climate warming will possibly turn into a full climate breakdown. Of course, there are many hidden champions besides trees in our woods that are also severely affected by climate changes. Still, it’s incredibly heartbreaking to see how our activities bring down the kings of plants.

I don’t consider myself overly pessimistic; on the contrary, I firmly believe that we can turn things for the better and finally deal with the warmer climate. But — that’s the scientific truth — we only have another ten years to work that out. Acknowledging the power of green would be the first step.

It’s not a secret that fighting against climate breakdown has a lot to do with reducing climate gas emissions. But equally important is the fostering of climate gas in-takers. Wetlands, notably peatlands, woodlands, scrublands and meadows, are excellent at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. If we only cut half of our emissions, they would finish the job – if in a healthy state.

Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. In Germany, 95% of the peatlands are in a degenerated state and are carbon emitters. Restoring them would make them great carbon in-takers and powerful allies in the fight against climate breakdown.

But most of them serve as fields for the agricultural industry, which is driven by a cartel of climate-adverse chemical industry and insidious meat industry. Please note that the meat industry’s colour is signal red. Please don’t hesitate to associate red with blood.

It’s our task to understand green, despite its abundance in Europe (luckily, still mostly the case), as the signal colour for a viable future. But conversely, we must do everything possible (and impossible from today’s view) to keep the colour green in Europe and elsewhere a consumption colour and not let it become a signal colour in Summer.