global warming

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First attested in the 1950s. Came into common use in the mid-1970s with Wallace Smith Broecker's paper “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?”[1] and Mikhail Budyko's statement in 1976 that “a global warming up has started”.


global warming (uncountable)

  1. A sustained increase in the average temperature of the Earth, sufficient to cause climate change.
    Synonym: global heating
    Antonym: global cooling
    • 2004 May 17, Lev Grossman, “Hollywood's Global Warming”, in Time[4], archived from the original on 2011-06-28:
      As a movie, The Day After Tomorrow is your classic computer-generated cinematic confection, only the bad guy isn't an alien or a giant lizard, it's global warming.
    • 2014, Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Picador, →ISBN, page 150:
      In the popular imagination, global warming is mostly seen as a threat to cold-loving species, and there are good reasons for this. [] But global warming is going to have just as great an impact—indeed, according to Silman, an even greater impact—in the tropics.
    • 2015 March 2, Ian Sample, “Global warming contributed to Syria's 2011 uprising, scientists claim”, in The Guardian[5]:
      The study is one of the first to implicate global warming from human activities as one of the factors that played into the Syrian conflict which is estimated to have claimed more than 190,000 lives.

Usage notes[edit]

  • May be treated as a synonym of climate change in informal contexts, particularly in regions where climate science is contested by political actors. This conflation is not widespread in scientific contexts, where it may be regarded as incorrect.
  • Some scientists and journalists prefer the term global heating.[2][3][4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wallace S. Broecker (1975-08-08), “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?”, in Science (in English), volume 189, issue 4201, DOI:10.1126/science.189.4201.460
  2. ^ Brigitte Nerlich (2014-02-04), “Global warming is dead, long live global heating?”, in University of Nottingham[1] (in English)
  3. ^ Jonathan Watts (2018-12-13), “Global warming should be called global heating, says key scientist”, in The Guardian[2] (in English)
  4. ^ Damian Carrington (2019-05-17), “Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment”, in The Guardian[3] (in English)

Further reading[edit]