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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?" (1975) 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.
    • 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.

Usage notesEdit

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.



See alsoEdit