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Posted: 2018-12-06 16:45:39

Billed as 'animating and life-affirming,' Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral is also a stark reminder of humankind's folly.

Each year, the color experts at the Pantone Color Institute crown a new hue as Color of the Year. 2018 was the year of Ultra Violet; 2017 the year of Greenery. And now we have the latest, the selection for 2019: Living Coral.

Part swinging-retiree-in-Florida, part millennial-pink-on-steroids, Pantone describes the color as "fan animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge."

And the intentions are good, no doubt.

“With everything that’s going on today, we’re looking for those humanizing qualities because we’re seeing online life dehumanizing a lot of things,” Laurie Pressman, the Pantone Color Institute’s vice president, told the Associated Press. “We’re looking toward those colors that bring nourishment and the comfort and familiarity that make us feel good."

Here, here! As someone who can't resist the lure of the cage match that is political Twitter, I could surely use a dose of Living Coral's “emotional nourishment" and its "big hug,” as Pressman describes it.

But here's the thing. I just can't get past the name. When did "coral" become "living coral"? Was it when we first became aware of coral bleaching, in which rising water temperatures make coral sick and cause it to turn white? Bleached coral is still alive, but it is stressed and vulnerable. Should color nomenclature now include "sick coral" and "dying coral" as well?

In a UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre report published last year – the first global scientific assessment of climate change impacts on World Heritage coral reefs – experts concluded that "soaring ocean temperatures in the past three years have subjected 21 of 29 World Heritage reefs to severe and/or repeated heat stress, and caused some of the worst bleaching ever observed at iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Papahānaumokuākea (USA), the Lagoons of New

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