Actions taken by an individual, organization, or government to reduce or counteract the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, in order to limit the effect of global warming on the earth’s climate
Our corpora record a 266% rise in usage over last year, with a dramatic spike in September documenting demands for climate action by protestors at climate rallies around the globe and media coverage of the gathering of world leaders for the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York.
A situation characterized by the threat of highly dangerous, irreversible changes to the global climate
Like climate emergency, climate crisis is increasingly favoured as a more scientifically robust term for climate change across climate science and media reporting, resulting in a 26-fold increase in usage in 2019.
The rejection of the proposition that climate change caused by human activity is occurring or that it constitutes a significant threat to human welfare and civilisation
Our data reveals a 153% usage increase for climate denial in 2019, reflecting debate over climate science reporting and leading political figures’ reactions to it, and the hardening of language from scepticism to denial, with people typically described as climate science deniers or climate deniers instead of climate sceptics.
Though yet to reach the heights of November 2018 – likely coinciding with media coverage of President Trump’s denial of his own government’s climate report, among others – climate denial, and associated terms, has been ever-present this year.
Extreme worry about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change
Our corpus records a 4,290% increase in use eco-anxiety in 2019, showing a growing discourse, particularly among young people, around the mental health impact of the climate emergency that has dominated headlines this year. While the symptoms are the same as clinical anxiety, eco-anxiety is not considered by mental health professionals to be a mental disorder as the cause of the worry is a rational response to current climate science reporting.
Destruction of the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action
Amidst heightened public attention to the climate emergency and calls for action, the word ecocide has had a 680% increase in frequency of use over 2019. The term is at the heart of a legal campaign to make serious damage to the environment an atrocity crime at the International Criminal Court, putting it on an equal footing with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Such a move would make government officials and business leaders individually criminally responsible for actions that knowingly or negligibly harm the planet.
The spike in April perhaps reflects increased coverage after the death of Polly Higgins, a British barrister and leading figure of the decade-long campaign for ecocide to be recognised as a criminal, rather than civil, offense.
The fact or process of a species, family, or other group of animals or plants becoming extinct
Extinction has seen a 681% increase in usage in 2019 as scientific analyses report on the breakdown of our planet’s biodiversity attributed to human activity. The UN’s Global Assessment Report, for example, stated that ‘human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before’.Our language data records a huge spike in usage in April that corresponds with launch of Extinction Rebellion, the international movement using civil disobedience tactics to generate public awareness and secure political change to combat environmental breakdown.
A reluctance to travel by air, or discomfort at doing so, because of the damaging emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by aircraft
Flight shame is a translation of the Swedish flygskam, a phenomenon that took off across Europe early this year before going global, resulting in a 182% rise in usage. Growing attention to individuals’ carbon footprints has seen people ditching carbon-intensive air travel for other, greener forms of transport, and the introduction of recommendations for a ‘frequent flyer levy' to curb the ever-growing demand for air travel.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, another Swedish export alongside flygskam, led by example in September when she made the two-week transatlantic journey from Plymouth in the UK to reach New York in the US for the UN’s Climate Action Summit.
A term adopted in place of ‘global warming’ to convey the seriousness of changes in the climate caused by human activity and the urgent need to address it
In December 2018, Prof Richard Betts, the UK Met Office’s climate research lead, advised: ‘global heating is technically more correct because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet’. This year, our data shows the uptake of this revised terminology, presenting an 18,358% usage rise in 2019 over the same period last year as record-breaking temperatures and concern over the future of the Paris Agreement hit headlines around the world.
A target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net-zero law, and more than 60 countries have since pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. However, as initial analysis indicates urgent action is required to meet this target, debate as what action should be taken has contributed to a 992% usage rise for the term in 2019.
(Of food or a diet) consisting largely of vegetables, grains, pulses, or other foods derived from plants, rather than animal products
From lab-grown chicken to meatless burgers, 2019 has seen increased frequency of discussion of all things plant-based with the trend for clean meat, meat alternatives, vegetarianism, and veganism contributing to the 144% usage increase. Coverage of the Amazon rainforest wildfires in August, for example, brought renewed attention to damaging farming practices driven by high global demand for beef and a surge of people talking about sustainable alternatives.