Oxford Dictionaries has declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate.
Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”, Oxford said the words soared from “relative obscurity” to “one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.”
Oxford said the choice was reflective, not just of the rise in climate awareness, but the focus specifically on the language we use to discuss it. The rise of “climate emergency” reflected a conscious push towards language of immediacy and urgency, the dictionary said.
“In 2019, climate emergency surpassed all of those other types of emergency to become the most written about emergency by a huge margin, with over three times the usage frequency of health, the second-ranking word,” Oxford said.