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Climate Words of the Year


It was a sunny morning in July when my editor sent me a hot tip. An unprecedented heat wave in China was ruining the corn and soy crops used to feed pigs, sending the price of pork soaring. And at the same time, hot and dry conditions were sweeping Europe, expected to erase a third of the seasonal harvest of rice, corn, and animal feed in Italy alone.

There was a pattern emerging. A month earlier, the United States had baked in searing temperatures that killed thousands of cattle in Kansas. Everyone was worrying about inflation with grocery bills and energy costs rising. And it looked like the record-breaking heat had been playing a larger role in driving up prices than many people realized. In the course of writing an article that linked these events together, a word was born: heatflation.

As the world overheats, new words and phrases turn up all the time, and old ones gain new meanings. Companies invent terms to sound greener, politicians try to come up with the smartest name for a climate bill, and activists bring brand-new words to life by devisi... Read more

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