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Climate Change is Now Climate Emergency in Some Media

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
19th April 2021
Climate Change is Now Climate Emergency in Some Media
The term may have changed, but the conditions have not (Getty Images).

The Claim

The term “climate change” will now be “climate emergency."

Emerging story

Social media users are talking about a new worldwide change in terms from “climate change” to “climate emergency.” 

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar learned that the term climate emergency is not new. Throughout the twenty-first century the term has been used around the world, with over 1900 governments declaring a climate emergency in their region according to the ClimateOrganization.org

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For 2019, the Oxford Dictionary chose the term “climate emergency” as the word of the year. Climate emergency is 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.” The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression shown that reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and has lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. According to Oxford Languages, in 2019, climate emergency surpassed all of those other types of emergencies to become the most written about emergency.

Last week, Scientific American agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. According to an official statement, the journalists wanted to use the COVID-19 crises as a model where journalists have described the pandemic as an emergency. The effort to change the language comes as part of a group effort from Covering Climate Now, an initiative founded in 2019. More than 400 newsrooms from around the world – with a combined audience nearing 2 billion people – have joined Covering Climate Now.

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Scientific American's statement means that the term originally referred to as global warming, then climate change, will now be used in most media outlets as climate emergency. However, Scientific American is just a popular science magazine. While international science organization ICOMOS has declared a climate emergency, UNESCO and ISC still call it climate change. Therefore, we rate this claim as selective.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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