‘Climate emergency’ is OED word of the year

The Oxford English Dictionary chose “climate emergency” as its word of the year for 2019, reflecting the hundred-fold increase in the phrase’s usage over the previous year.

Gina McCarthy, director of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, weighed in on the choice in a December 23, 2019 Harvard Gazette article. “Climate change has reached a turning point in the public consciousness,” she said. “In 2019, people all over the world began demanding actions and solutions.” McCarthy, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is slated to become president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council on January 6, 2020.

Samuel Myers, director of the Planetary Health Alliance and principal research scientist at Harvard Chan School, was also quoted in the Gazette article. He agreed that the choice of “climate emergency” reflects the growing worldwide concern about the declining health of the global environment. “One of the exciting developments this year has been a groundswell of activism and movement building to address this crisis,” he said.

Read the Harvard Gazette article: What weighed on us in 2019? ‘Climate emergency’