Dictionary updated thanks to climate change
Ecological anxiety, net zero and climate catastrophe are among the new terms that have appeared in the language, according to a new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.
As leaders, negotiators and campaigners prepare to descend to Glasgow for the crucial UN Cop26 discussions, a special authoritative dictionary update has been launched, dedicated to exploring the language of change climate.
Other new words and phrases include CO2, a contraction of carbon dioxide, and global warming, which has been adopted by some people to replace global warming to refer to the long-term rise in temperatures.
The new dictionary subentries include the climate crisis, the climate catastrophe, and the climate emergency, reflecting the greater urgency people feel about this issue.
Climate denialist, climate skeptic and climate denial have joined the list of terms, to describe the rejection of the idea or evidence that human-caused climate change is happening or poses a significant threat.
Recognizing the growing fear of many people about climate change, eco-anxiety first appears in the dictionary to describe unease or apprehension about current and future damage to the environment.
Other additions include climate justice, climate refugees and the climate strike, in recognition of the youth protests led by Greta Thunberg, as well as extreme weather conditions, to describe very harsh, unusual or atypical weather conditions for a region. , especially when attributed to climate change. .
The language is also changing as people discuss how to deal with the crisis, with net zero now being used to describe balancing greenhouse gas emissions with removals, a rain garden to absorb the rainwater and an air source for a type of heat pump.
The adoption of electric vehicles is reflected in new entries for range anxiety and smart charging, and there are additions to the wind turbine to refer to wind turbines and tides to reflect the potential to generate electricity. energy from the tides.
The update comes after OED, produced by Oxford Languages, part of Oxford University Press, launched a project in early 2021 to expand and revise its coverage of vocabulary related to climate change and sustainability.
OED lexicographers also traced existing words related to climate further in time, tracing the term “climate change” to an American magazine article in 1854.
In the 1980s the world was talking about the greenhouse effect, but this was quickly overtaken by global warming, and then both were eclipsed by the use of climate change which experienced strong and steady growth over the 40’s. recent years, said language experts. .
Now the language has become more urgent, with the climate emergency, crisis and even disaster joining the lexicon and seeing their use increase.
Although Ms Thunberg launched her skolstrejk – school strike – in 2018, sparking a global movement, the term first appeared a few years earlier in 2014, during a proposed event hosted by the militant organization Popular Resistance.
Trish Stewart, science editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, said: “As world leaders come together to seek solutions to the problem of climate change, it has been fascinating, if at times somewhat alarming, to delve deeper into the language. that we use, both now and in the past, to talk about climate and sustainability.
“The very real sense of urgency that is now upon us is reflected in our language.
“What happens next depends on so many factors, but one thing we can be sure of is that our language will continue to evolve and tell the story.”
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