“Climate change” finally googled more than “Game of Thrones”


I don’t know if this is a story about how popular Game of Thrones is or about how surprisingly little-searched the term “climate change” is. Let’s find out together.

Game of Thrones is a popular show. It found a devoted audience pretty soon after it premiered on HBO in 2011, and it only expanded from there. The below chart, put together by Grist, puts it in context by showing how google searches for “Game of Thrones” over the years compared to Google searches for “climate change,” the catch-all term for the impending global apocalypse threatening to raise our sea levels and boil our marine life and force a series of mass migrations if we don’t do something in the near future.

In September, searches for climate change finally beat our searches for Game of Thrones, news that surely eliciting satisfied smirks from climatologists around the globe — now they become the subject of frothing fan theories, right?

To be fair, September was a big month for climate change discussion, with a new report on the damage the phenomenon is doing to our oceans from the  U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, students skipping class to take part in organized protests, and activist Greta Thunberg giving a powerful speech at the United Nations that immediately went rival. On the other hand, with the series finale of Game of Thrones well in the rearview mirror, interest in that show is fading.

Also, I feel like the term “climate change” only came in vogue fairly recently. Back when the show started, I think we were still saying “global warming,” which could affect the results here.

And to wrap things up, plenty of fans have interpreted Game of Thrones as a metaphor for climate change, with powerful people battling amongst themselves while the existential threat of the White Walkers descends from the North. Even A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin thinks this is a completely valid interpretation, although it probably wasn’t intentional on his part — remember, he started writing these books in the early ’90s, before the climate change discussion…ahem…heated up.

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