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Climate Language

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The signs of climate change are hard to miss. The apocalyptic sight of a hazy, red-orange sky has become all too familiar as forests go up in flames. Mountains just don’t look the same after a summer of heat waves has melted their once-permanent glaciers, leaving strange, rocky bald spots. Some places are getting way too little rain, while others are getting rained on way too much, submerging basements and subway stations. 

It’s enough to provoke a crippling anxiety, a deep dread about the future of our overheating planet. The proof: Google searches for “climate anxiety” have soared 565 percent over the past 12 months, according to data Google provided to Grist. 

This sharp increase is “unusual,” said Simon Rogers, Google News Lab’s data editor. “There really seems to be this kind of existential fear.” Over the past year, he said, he’s seen big changes in what people have been Googling about climate change, a shift that reveals a public increasingly trying to grapple with what the crisis means for their lives and looking for answers.

“Whereas maybe before it felt like the climate was this abstract thing, now w... Read more

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