What is 'global heating' and why has it been added to the dictionary?

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Protesters march with banners and placards expressing their opinion during the demonstration. Over 200 protestors gathered in Parliament Square while demanding government action over climate crisis. (Photo by Thomas Krych / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Global heating, climate catastrophe, and climate strike are among new terms added to the Oxford English Dictionary. (Getty)

'Global heating' is one of several new terms that have been added to the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in a special update dedicated to looking at the language of climate change

The term 'global heating' refers to the long-term increase in temperatures and has been adopted by some people to replace global warming

The OED, produced by Oxford Languages, part of Oxford University Press, started a project early this year to broaden and review its coverage of vocabulary related to climate change and sustainability.

Embargoed to 0001 Thursday March 15  PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A man reads a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English.
The climate-related terms have been added to a special update of the Oxford English Dictionary. (PA)

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As part of the project, lexicographers for OED tracked the term "climate change" back to a US magazine article in 1854.

In the 1980s, the term greenhouse effect became more common but was overtaken by global warming. Both were overshadowed by the term 'climate change' which has grown over the past 40 years but the inclusion of 'global heating' in the special update reflects growing use of it as a term.

Other additions to the update include eco-anxiety, used to describe unease or apprehension about current and future harm to the environment, and net-zero, which means the balance of greenhouse gas emissions with removals, as well as CO2.

Climate crisis, climate refugee, climate catastrophe and climate emergency are also included, reflecting the greater urgency people are feeling about the issue.

Climate denialism also joins the list of terms, describing the rejection of the idea or evidence that climate change is caused by humans is occurring, or represents a significant threat.

Watch: What is COP26?

Another term featured in the special update is climate strike, in recognition of the youth protests led by campaigner Greta Thunberg.

The update comes leaders and campaigners prepare for the crunch UN Cop26 talks in Glasgow, set to take place in November.

Trish Stewart, science editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, said: "As world leaders come together to seek solutions to the climate change problem, it has been fascinating, if at times somewhat alarming, to delve deeper into the language 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 to tell the story."

Watch: Which countries release the most CO2?

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