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Google Searches for ‘Climate Change’ Outstrip Game of Thrones in September

With concern about climate change heating up and interest in Winterfell cooling down (because…wait for it…Winter is Coming, Jon Snow), it was bound to happen: last month, United States Google searches on the climate crisis finally exceeded those for Game of Thrones, for the first time since the long-running TV melodrama became a thing.

“The peak of climate change queries came the week of September 20, even rising above searches for ‘impeachment’,” Grist reports. “That’s the day that millions of young people around the world skipped class for what may well have been the biggest climate change protest in history.”

Grist has a chart showing a search spike that exceeds previous highs on June 1, 2017, when Donald Trump announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, and in December 2015, when the agreement was finalized. This time, writes reporter Kate Yoder, online searchers were looking for protest and rally information—and for online poster templates.

A rapid sequence of major events and activities made September “kind of like one long Super Bowl for climate change, with several events (including the strike) in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City,” she adds. “CNN and MSNBC held marathon-length town halls grilling presidential candidates about their plans to take on the climate crisis. Some 300 newsrooms stepped up their reporting on our overheating planet in a collaborative effort called Covering Climate Now. On the science side, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a landmark report that spelled out how climate change is wreaking havoc in our oceans.”

All of which made Google a hotbed of climate interest, with search terms ranging from “climate change poster” to “climate change girl speech”. In month-end data, Yoder writes, “the phrase ‘climate change’ was most popular in Washington DC, Vermont, and Hawaii. Worldwide, the hotspot for climate-related searches was Fiji—an island nation in the South Pacific that’s getting submerged by the rising seas.”

As for Game of Thrones, the actor who played Jon Snow couldn’t get in several years of filming on location without witnessing what he described as the “terrifying” ice loss in polar regions. “We went to Iceland to find snow, because winter is here” in the show, Kit Harington told Time Magazine in 2017. “We got there, and we were lucky to get the snow we did, because in our world, winter is definitely not here.” (Proving once and for all, with apologies to Ygritte, that Jon Snow doesn’t quite “know nuthin’”.)