Appealing to the amygdala: marketing climate hazards to the present self

There is no doubt that humans are highly visual creatures. After all, this is a crucial exploit that marketers use. Chinese high school students have been shown to feel anger, anxiety, and stress towards pollution in correlation with how much smog they see (?Xu KX, Zhou X, 2018).

Currently, the majority do not perceive climate change as an instant threat, and understandably so, since humans view their future selves as different individuals (Hershfield, Hal., 2011). The activism bubble is highly critical, with an increase in young people speaking up against major culprits and companies trying to display their eco-friendliness. Considering this, if we can make people associate climate change with danger, we may be able to evoke enough activistic commotion by youth to start a feedback loop that inevitably leads to effective legislation.

In theory, one way of doing this is by spraying a relatively low concentration of dye into urban atmospheres that changes colour in the presence of the heat given off by human activities. By showing people a direct consequence of their actions in the form of scary smog, they would be conditioned into seeing pollution as danger, much like the Chinese students. The dye would be developed and have the following properties:
- Non-toxic
- Encapsulated in hydrophobic microcapsules, somewhat like leuco dyes. This allows it to be more resistant to precipitation and not leach into the atmosphere
- Optically transparent for wavelengths needed in photosynthesis
- Generally chemically unreactive
- Thermochromic in sharp temperature changes, but not sensitive to gradual changes. This would allow the dye to not be affected by seasonal changes or the occasional car, but only by concentrated, human-related activities, such as traffic congestion. The dye would be red (associated with fear) when the temperature sharply increases, and transparent when cooled down/inactive.




Trigger (intervention)




Feedback Dynamics


Timescale and scaleability





Robert Saleb

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License