In case you need a reminder of how fast pop culture can move these days, consider the case of Wordle, the five-letter word-guessing game that’s taken the internet by storm. Although the browser-based puzzle, in which players have six tries to guess one set word of the day, has only been available to the public since October 2021, it already has nearly 3 million users. It has also spawned a slew of spinoffs, from Absurdle, where the winning word keeps changing on you, to Lewdle, a ruder variant.

One of the latest twists on the popular game brings a new meaning to all those “green” squares you’ve seen shared on social media. In “A Greener Worldle,” the word of the day always has something to do with our burning planet, like adapt, clean, drown, or — yesterday’s answer — facts.

The game has the same setup as the original Wordle, with letters you’ve guessed flipping yellow if they are part of the final word but in the incorrect spot, or green if they’re the correct spot. “You want the tiles to turn green, just like the planet,” the rules read.

The spinoff was created by the International Institute for Environment & Development, a policy research organization. “If you love climate solutions and Wordle, you’ll DEFINITELY love A GREENER WORLDLE,” the organization announced enthusiastically on Facebook on Tuesday. The organization says that the word game’s launch is “the latest, if slightly unusual, part of IIED’s work to tackle climate change that dates back 50 years.”

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Climate change and word games have been having something of a month. A New York Times crossword clue caused a stir on January 10 when the answer to the clue “greener energy source” turned out to be “clean coal” — a famous misnomer popularized by the fossil fuel industry. The puzzle’s constructor, Lynn Lempel, noted that the Times had edited down her original clue, “dubious term for a greener energy source.” The paper quickly corrected the record, saying that the puzzle “may have implied incorrectly that coal is a viable source of clean energy.” 

After that debacle, “A Greener Worldle” seems almost like a gift — though admittedly a strange one — to climate-conscious word nerds everywhere. Did we actually need it? We did not. But if it’s anything like the original Wordle craze, it might just be here to stay.

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