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Green Words for the 21st Century 


Abatement: Reducing the degree or intensity of, or altogether eliminating pollution.
Abiotic:  The absence of living organisms.
Ablation: When ice and snow melts, evaporates, or detaches from a surface.
Ablation Zone:  The part of the glacier where losses (from melting, calving, evaporation) exceed additions.
Absolute Zero:  -273.15C (or -459.67F) point at which all matter ceases to vibrate/move, where no heat energy exists, nothing can be colder.
Absorbed Solar Radiation:  Solar radiation absorbed by the atmosphere's gases, suspended materials, clouds, or by the earth's surface.
Acclimatization: The process of an organism adapting to a change in its environment.
Accumulation Zone: That high part of a glacier, where annual gain of snow and ice, exceeds the losses.
Acre-foot: The amount of water required to cover one acre of surface area of to a depth of one foot. The area of one foot by 66 by 660 feet equals a volume of 326,851 gallons, or 1,233,500 litres, or 1,233.5 cubic meters, or 43,560 cubic feet.
Acid Rain:  Precipitation having been altered by acidic airborne pollutants.  The acidity occurs when water, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, released by industrial processes, are chemically transformed into sulphuric and nitric acids, which become trapped in, and carried by clouds and are then later released as acidic precipitation.  Aka acid deposition, which also includes dry acidic gases and particulates.
Acidic:  Soils or water with a pH value below 7.0.
Acrolein:  A common emission from automobiles, is formed as an oxidation product of butadiene.
Adaptation Fund: Was established by the UN to help protect those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, like drought, flooding and severe storms. Originally established under the Kyoto Protocol, it was made easier to access during the Bali Conference, 2007.
Adiabatic: Changes in air temperature, volume, pressure, in a given quantity of air, that occurs as a consequence of vertical movement of the air, without loss or gain of heat.
Additionality:  An offset term meaning your purchased offset will go to a project that really helps reduce 'additional' carbon dioxide emissions, and not toward reductions that would have happened anyway.
Aeolian:  The action or the effect of wind.
Aerobiology:  The study of living organisms which become suspended in the atmosphere by the wind, and the consequences thereof.
Aerosols: Solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Aerosols cool the earth's surface but warm the atmosphere.  Also refers to a liquid substance packed under pressure, released in a fine spray.
Aerosol Size Distribution:  The different size aerosols that are suspended in the atmosphere, and their amounts, which affect the scattering of sunlight, visibility, cloud denseness and sky color.
Aestival:  Early summer, one of the six seasons used by Ecologists to more completely define seasonal conditions.
Afforestation:  The establishment of a forest on an area not previously forested, or on land from which forest  has  been long absent.
Aflatoxins:  A group of closely related naturally occurring toxic metabolites that are designated mycotoxins. They are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, and found in many food products.  Aflatoxins are toxic and carcinogenic.
African Jet:  A low-level summertime easterly jet over the Sahara Desert of North Africa. Some become hurricanes that move westward to the Americas.
Afternoon Effect:  The trapping of acoustic energy near the surface of a large body of water due to solar heating on days without wind.
Aggressive Water:  Acidic water that is corrosive to metals.
Agricultural Waste: Manure and residual wastes generated from the production and marketing of poultry or livestock. Also includes vegetable, grain, sugar and fruit harvest residue.
Agroecology:  Ecologically sustainable agricultural methods.
Agroforestry: An integration of agriculture and forestry. Any agricultural system which combines the planting or encouragement of trees, shrubs or plants on the same land where animals are raised, or agricultural crops are grown.
Agronomy:  The science and economics of crop production and soil management.
Agulhas Current or Stream: Flows down the east coast of Africa and is the western boundary current in the southern Indian Ocean. It is one of the swiftest and largest ocean currents.
Air Quality Model:  Mathematical or computer model used to estimate present or future air quality.
Air Quality Standards:  Maximum legal concentration limits of air pollutants averaged over specified time periods.
Air Stagnation:  A major buildup of air pollution in the atmosphere, occurring when an air mass stalls over the same area for several days; and light winds cannot disperse the buildup of smoke, dust, gases, and other air pollution.
Airborne Fraction: Is the fraction of man made carbon emissions which remain in the atmosphere after natural processes have absorbed some of them.
Airborne Particulates:  Fine particles suspended in the air. Particles smaller than 25 microns in diameter enter the lungs and can be harmful.
Alachlor:  Is a widely used herbicide in the United States, used to control annual grasses and broad leaved weeds. Pollutes groundwater. Men with high alachlor levels are prone to low sperm quality.
Alaska Current: A shallow counterclockwise offshoot of the North Pacific current carrying relatively warm water northward.
Albedo:  That fraction of radiation, striking a surface, that is reflected by that surface, i.e., snow and ice have a high albedo, 75-95% for fresh snow and asphalt roads have a low albedo of  5-10 %. Thus, land use changes and greenhouse gases have significant effect on albedo. The average albedo for the Earth is 30 percent.
Alert Threshold:  A pollution incident, bacterium level, etc. above which there is a threat to human health.
Aleutian Current: Aka the Subarctic Current. A southern flowing current north of the North Pacific Current. Flowing along the southern coasts of the Aleutian Islands. It divides to form the northward- flowing Alaska current and the southward-flowing California Current.
Algal bloom:  Sudden, extensive growths of  algae, which develop in lakes, reservoirs and waterways, which affect water quality and are a sign of adverse changes in the local water chemistry.
Algorithm:  A set of well-defined procedures or formula for the systematic solution of a certain problem in a finite number of steps, usually in a computer program.
All-hallown summer: A extended summer of unseasonable warmth, occurring till All Hallows Day (All Saints Day).
Alluvial soil:  A fine fertile soil deposited by water into flood plains or in river beds. Also referring to the geological deposition of mud and/or sand by flowing water.
Alternative energy:  Energy that does not come from fossil fuels.
Altitudinal vegetation zones:  Aka life zones, distinct mountain zones corresponding to complex gradations of altitude, temperature, precipitation, wind, species, soil, etc. We will see species and vegetation losses as global warming pushes these zones upward toward the summit with nowhere left to go, see escalator effect.
Ambient:  Of the surrounding area or environment.
Amateurization: When a group of non-professionals organise for their's, and the greater good.
Anaerobic Digestion:  When anaerobic bacteria break down matter in an oxygen-free environment and produce an energy-rich, over 60% methane biogas, which can be used to generate energy or power vehicles.
Anhydrous:  A compound that contains no or almost no water, i.e., anhydrous ethanol, has one percent water content.
Anemometer:  Instruments designed to measure wind speed and direction.
Annex I:  Developed countries with Kyoto Article 3 targets.
Antarctic Bottom Water:  Very dense, cold bottom water with high salinity, that moves in an easterly direction around the Antarctic.
Antarctic Circumpolar Current:  Cold, eastward flowing current with low salinity, that circles Antarctica and extends from the surface to the ocean floor. The largest and most important ocean current in the Southern hemisphere, as it keeps the warm waters of the Indian, South Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans away from Antarctica. Aka the West Wind Drift.
Antarctic Intermediate Water:  Formed at about 50 degrees latitude when the cold, low salt, Antarctic surface water sinks to depths of 900 m and spreads northward.
Antarctic Polar Current:  A westward blowing surface current circumambulating Antarctica.
Antarctic Ocean: The Ocean waters that surround Antarctic up to 40 degrees latitude, the northern limit of drift ice, where ocean temps and salinity change.
Antarctic Ozone Hole:  A hole in the ozone layer discovered in the mid 1980s, that occurs in the winter/spring over Antarctica and to a lesser extent the North Pole. It has been found that CFC molecules deplete the ozone layer.
Anthropocene: The age since industrialisation; when human influence started to affect climate.
Anthropogenic: Induced by humans.
Anthropogenic Aerosols:  Aerosols made by human activities, about ten percent of all aerosols in the atmosphere.
Anticyclonic: Rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, undefined at the equator. The toilet bowl thing.
Antitoxin:  An antibody with the ability to neutralize or inactivate a specific toxin (forming an antigen).
Apparent Temperature: The measure of perceived temperature due to combined heat and humidity (heat index) or heat and wind chill, used to describe discomfort.
Aquaculture:  The controlled rearing of commercial fish or shellfish.
Aquaponics:  Hydroponics and aquaculture used together in a loop system.
Aquifer:  Fresh water stored underground in geological formations that are easily accessed, readily giving up their water to wells and springs.
Arctic Bottom Water:  The cold water mass in the Arctic Ocean beneath the Atlantic Water (of Atlantic origin). Freezing increases the salinity of the water beneath the ice and the resultant dense water sinks to the bottom.
Arctic Ocean:  A roughly circular basin that covers an area slightly less than 1 and a half times the size of the United States. The smallest and shallowest of the major oceans, with the lowest salinity.   It is surrounded by Eurasia, Greenland and North America. It's temperature and salinity vary seasonally as its floating ice cover melts or freezes.
Arctic Oscillation: Opposing atmospheric pressure patterns at the polar and middle latitudes which fluctuate between negative and positive phases. Since the 1970s, the oscillation has tended to stay in the positive pattern, where frigid winter air stays further north, ocean storms stay farther north, and there is more precipitation in Alaska, the British Isles and Scandinavia and this creates drier conditions in areas such as the SW US, Spain and the Middle East.
Arctic Polar Front:  Temperature and salinity fronts. In the Atlantic, the front between the warm and saline Gulf Stream and the cold and fresh Labrador Current, aka as the cold wall. In the Pacific, the front between the Polar water and northern flowing currents.
Arctic Surface Water:  The upper 150 m in the Arctic Ocean, having a temperature of −1.5° to −1.9°C.
Arctic Tree Line:  The latitudinal limit of tree growth; the division between tundra and boreal forest.
Arid:  Dry regions where agriculture is impracticable without irrigation. A climate with an aridity index of .05-.20. See aridity zones. Aridity is highest in the hyper-arid Sahara (which is larger than the continental US) and the Chilean-Peruvian desert.
Aridity Index: Aridity Index is an indicator of moisture deficit in a climatic area. Determined by dividing the mean precipitation by the mean potential evaporation in a given unit of time.
Aridity Zones:  There are four zones; dry sub-humid, semi-arid, arid and hyper-arid.
Aromatics: A type of ringed six-carbon hydrocarbon, such as benzene, toluene and xylene. Added to gasoline to increase its octane, commonly referred to as the BTX  group.
Artificial Recharge: The engineered introduction of surface water into an underground aquifer through recharge wells, boreholes,etc.
Aspartame: Is a chemical sweetener found in diet soft drinks (since 1983) and in over 6,000 foods, drugs and medicines. Complaints about aspartame account for 75% of all complaints against food additives to the American FDA. Donald Rumsfeld was influential in aspartame getting its FDA approval, as he was the CEO of Searle, its manufacturer. The FDA has compiled a list of 92 symptoms from thousands and thousands of complaints against aspartame, which is comprised of 50 percent synthetic phenylalanine, 40 percent synthetic aspartic acid and 10 percent methanol.
Assisted Migration:  Is the intentional repopulating of a species from their present habitat to a new region with the intent of establishing a presence in an area the species did not before inhabit.
Atmometer:  An instrument that measures the rate of evaporation of water into the air.
Atmospheric Boundary Layer:  The thin bottom layer of the troposphere contiguous to the earth's surface.
Atmospheric Column:  A vertical column of air defined by a unit area on the ground, many times a square or  rectangular land area, and bounded by the top of the atmosphere.  Once the physics and chemistry of the components in the column are determined they are used as reference points for on going changes in the future.
Atmospheric Window: A range of the electromagnetic spectrum that is radiated back through the atmosphere with little absorption of radiation by atmospheric gases. The window is naturally open allowing heat to reflect back out into space. Water vapor and other greenhouse gases absorb this radiation and narrow the window and less waves are reflected with more heat returned to the Earth... (the greenhouse effect)
Autarky:  When a country attempts self sufficiency and does not engage in international trade.
Autotroph:  An organism capable of making its own food (a producer) by synthesizing complex organic materials from simple inorganic compounds, by using sunlight or chemical energy. Producers are a vital part of the food chain, and at its base.
Available Water:  The water in soil that can be readily absorbed by plant roots.
Azimuth:  The orientation of a Solar Cell relative to direction, 180 degrees refers to due South, 90 refers to due East, and 270 degrees due West.
Azinphos-Methyl:  Is one of the most toxic of the organophosphate insecticides. Like other organophosphates, azinphos-methyl inhibits cholinesterase, an enzyme involved in the transmission of nerve signals.


B100:  100% Biodiesel.
Backfire:  A fire intentionally set, to stop an advancing fire, by creating a burned out area in the fire's path.
Background Pollution:  Naturally occurring pollutants that are well distributed in our atmosphere. Which are measured in undisturbed areas. A base level above which local pollutants are cumulative to.
Backscatter: The reflection of waves or particles back to the direction from which they came, as when some solar radiation is reflected or scattered back out to space by the atmosphere.
Balkanize: To fragment or divide into non-cooperative pieces.
Banking Emissions: Air pollution reductions put in the 'bank' for future use.
Barrel:  42 US Gallons.
Barrels Per Day Equivalent:  A unit of measure that states how much oil would have to be burned to produce an equal amount of energy.
Basal Sliding or Slip:  The movement of a glacier on its bed.
Base Flood:  Also known as a 100 year flood, a standard for floodplain management is 'the base', or one percent chance flood, which has at least one chance in 100 of occurring in any given year.
Basket of Gases: The group of six greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. They are listed in Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol and include: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
Baseline Emissions:  The emissions that would occur without policy/Government intervention. Baseline methodology will differ, yet baseline estimates are helpful to determine the effectiveness of emissions reduction, or mitigation schemes.
Beaufort Scale:  A 0 to 12 wind scale system used to estimate and report wind speeds when no measuring apparatus is available.  The highest force 12 describes all winds over 121 km/h. Since winds exceed 121 miles an hour other scales have been devised to categorize strong storm winds.
Beetle Analysis: A technique using radiocarbon dated beetle remains, that can reconstruct past environments and climates, in particular estimates of past temperatures and precipitation.
Beginning of Freezeup:  The date when ice forming a stable winter ice cover, is first observed on the water surface.
Beginning of the Breakup: The date of definite breaking up, movement, or melting of ice cover.
Benzene:  Millions of tons of man made benzene are produced each year in the U.S.. Benzene is used widely as a building block for polymers, plastics, rubber, resins, adhesives, and synthetic fabrics, and is used as a solvent in dyes, paints, paint brush cleaners, dry cleaners, pesticides, etc... Benzene is also a natural constituent of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Benzene is used as a gasoline additive, as it boosts octane levels in fuel. The US currently allows gasoline with a benzene content of up to 1.0% by volume (many countries do not allow benzene in gasoline). The Department of Health and Human Services has determined benzene a known human carcinogen.
Bergy Bit:  A small piece of ice which has broken away from an iceberg, or is the remains of a melting iceberg and is less than 5 meters (15 feet) in size.
BHA, BHT:  Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are synthetic antioxidants that are often added to processed foods and cosmetics to preserve fats and oils.  BHA and BHT are not allowed on fresh foods.
Bicarbonate and carbonate ions: This is the buffering capacity of the world's oceans. Much of the CO2 added to the atmosphere will eventually be absorbed by the oceans and become ionic compounds, but the process takes hundreds of years because the carbon dioxide only comes into contact with the water's surface and the carbon dioxide gas has to partition into many compounds.
Bioaccumulation: An increase in the concentration of a chemical in a biological organism over time.
Bioacoustics:  The field science that studies the sounds of nature.
Bioassay: A procedure used to determine the concentration, toxicity, and/or biological activity of a   substance in comparison to a standard measure over a standardized time.
Bioaugmentation:  The addition to the environment of nonnative microbes for the purpose bioremediation.
Biobased Product:  Products (other than food or feed) made from renewable plant and animal sources.
Biocentrism:  The belief that all forms of life are of equal value and all does not revolve around humanity.  It's opposite anthropocentrism argues that everything revolves around its usefulness to humanity. Biocentrists argue that everything in nature has value.
Biochemicals: Chemicals that are either naturally occurring or identical to naturally occurring substances. Eg, hormones and enzymes.
Bioclimatology:   The study of the effects of climatic conditions on living organisms, especially agricultural plants, animals, humans and their diseases.
Biodegradable:  A process by which large, complex organic molecules are naturally broken down into smaller inorganic molecules through the action of microorganisms.
Biodiversity:  The variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region. More precisely ecosystem complexity, species richness and genetic variation.
Biodiversity Offsets:  Are conservation projects used by businesses to counterbalance the environmental impacts of their operations. The goal is to achieve a net neutral or better yet a beneficial outcome for biodiversity.
Biodynamic Agriculture: Is organic farming, that also looks upon the soil and the farm as living organisms.         
Biofuels:  A gaseous, liquid or solid fuel that contains energy derived from a biological source.
Biogeochemical Cycle:  The process of recycling among the organic (bio-), inorganic (geo-) and chemical worlds. The most well-known and important biogeochemical cycles include the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, the hydrogen cycle and the water cycle.
Bio-Indicators: Also known as biomarkers, are biological or animal species used to monitor the health of, or changes in, their surroundings or an ecosystem.
Biological Contaminants:  Natural agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mammal and bird antigens which when inhaled might cause diverse health issues such as respiratory problems, allergic reactions, hypersensitivity, and infectious diseases.
Biological Wastewater Treatment:  Uses aerobic or anaerobic microorganisms to decant effluents and separate sludge and pollutants.
Biomagnification: Is the process by which pollutants become concentrated in successive trophic levels (food chain).  
Biomass:  1) The total mass of all living organisms (producers, consumers and decomposers) within a given unit of environmental area. 2) Also refers to renewable energy coming from trees, grasses, agricultural products or other biological material (such as waste) when transformed into fuel for the production of electricity, heat, chemicals, or fuels.
Biome:  A biological subdivision or regional ecosystem containing distinct types of plants and animals that have come into place under specific soil and climatic conditions.  There are over a dozen basic terrestrial biome classifications, including grassland, tropical rainforest, tundra, boreal conifer forests, deciduous forests and deserts. There are two main aquatic biomes, marine and freshwater.
Biomimicry:  Getting ideas from nature. Mimicking nature.
Biomonitoring:  Assessing human exposures to chemicals in the environment by measuring the chemicals or their metabolites in human tissue or fluids.
Bionics: Bio(mimicry)+(electr)onic. The application of biological principals found in nature to the design of electronic devices, mechanical parts, engineering systems and modern technology. E.g., bio- based solar panels, plastics, etc.
Biophilia:  The inherent emotional connection of humans to other living creatures. See E. O. Wilson's Biophilia Hypothesis.
Biopiracy:  When pharmaceutical companies exploit indigenous knowledge.
Bioplastics:  Mock plastic made from plant sources. When disposed of into an environment containing bacteria (microbes) they biodegrade with no toxic residue.
Bioreactor:  A container in which a biological reaction occurs.
Bioremediation: The use of plants or microorganisms to help absorb or break down pollutants such as oil from soil, water, and wastewater. Also the use of beneficial insects to counteract agricultural pests or which might help to  prevent or relieve diseases of trees, plants, and soil.
Biosolids: Solid materials remaining after wastewater treatment that meet the government criteria for beneficial use, such as for fertilizer.
Biosphere:  A whole planet ecosystem where the interconnection of living and nonliving components can or do exist.
Biosphere Reserve:  Established under UNESCO's man and the biosphere (MAB) programme, biosphere reserves are recognized protected areas that are 'living laboratories' for testing out and practising sustainable management of land, water and biodiversity. There are currently 529 sites worldwide in 105 countries.
Biota:  The combined flora and fauna occupying a region together.  E.g., desert biota.
Biotope:  An environmental region that is uniform in conditions and in its distribution of flora and fauna.
Bisphenol A:  An ingredient in rigid plastics such as water bottles. There is concern about the potential leaching of BPA and its hazards.
Blackbody:  A conceptual object/area that absorbs all of the electromagnetic radiation that strikes it.
Black Carbon Aerosols: Particles of carbon in the atmosphere released due to fossil fuel or biomass burning. Black carbon aerosols both absorb and reflect light from the sun.  They shade the amount of sunlight reaching the surface but also contribute significantly to the warming of the atmosphere.
Black Liquor:  Paper mill waste.
Blackwater: Household wastewater which contains human wastes.
Blizzard:   A snowstorm with considerable snowfall, visibility of less than a quarter mile, sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater, which prevails for a period of 3 hours or longer. See Extreme Weather.
Blue Carbon:  Carbon that is sequestered and stored in the oceans and atmosphere.
Blue Watch or Blue Box: Weather person slang for a severe thunderstorm watch.
Body Burden:  The build up of chemical pollutants in our bodies.
Bog: Is a spongy wetland habitat that accumulates dead plant material. Bogs are low in nutrients and very acidic. They cover vast areas in the tundra and boreal forest mostly in the northern hemisphere.   The world's largest wetlands are the Western Siberian Lowland bogs in Russia. A bog is a very early stage coal deposit and holds vast reserves of CO2.
Bog Bursts:  When a mass of bog peat slides off a layer of peat below it, or off the bedrock on a hill creating a lava like bog flow. Exasperated during extreme weather.
Boreal forest:  Aka the Taiga.  The tundra forest which circumambulates the Arctic is dominated by just a few species of needled conifers; black and white spruce, pine, balsam fir,and deciduous birch, larch and aspen.  To the north it is bounded by tundra and to the south by mixed temperate or deciduous forest or open steppe. The boreal forest accounts for about one third of the earth's total forest area, or 17 percent of the earth's land surface. It overlies formerly glaciated areas and therefore contains many lakes, bogs, marshes and rivers.
Bottom Water: The dense,cold, salty, low oxygen water that is the lowermost layer of ocean water. It is slow moving and influenced by sea-bed topography. Bottom water forms when sea water entering the polar regions freezes and salty and dense water separates out and sinks and flows into the ocean basins. The sinking water is replaced by surface water, creating poleward surface currents in the North Atlantic.
Boundary Current:  The north or south flowing ocean currents which flow parallel to a continental coastline. A western boundary current is a warm, deep, narrow, and fast moving current bringing warm water from the equator northward.  An eastern boundary current moves south slowly, is relatively shallow and broad.
Box Model:  A model that calculates air pollution concentrations which assumes that pollutants will immediately and uniformly disperse within a box.
Breakup Date: The date on which a body of water is first observed to be entirely free of ice and remains clear thereafter.
Breakup Period:  The period when ice cover is breaking up.
BRIC Countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Bright Green Environmentalism: Aims for a society that utilizes new technology and improved design to achieve  ecological sustainability, while increasing its economic growth.
Brown Carbon:  The carbon sequestered and stored in industrialised forests or plantations.
Brownfields:  Abandoned, underutilized or unused real property (often urban) where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of pollutants or contaminants.
BTU: British Thermal Unit. The amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit, at sea level and normal atmospheric pressure.
Bycatch: The unintended capture of certain fish, seabirds and marine mammals in fishing nets.


Calving:  The breaking away of a mass of ice from a floating glacier, ice front, or iceberg.
Cap:  The absolute emission limit.
Cap and Trade:  A regulation where a polluter is set a cap as to emissions. Polluters are then allowed to trade allowances below or above their set limit as their actual emissions come to light.
Capacity: (or peak) Refers to the highest level of electricity that a utility can supply at any one time. The total energy available or maximum that is producible.
Carbon Capture and Storage. CCS are methods used to capture carbon dioxide from large stationary sources such as power and industrial plants and subsequently sequester it away from the atmosphere.
Carbon Cycle:  The continuous interconnected processes by which carbon circulates among the biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): An odorless, colorless  greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through respiration and from the burning of fossil fuels, solid waste, wood products, and also as a result of other chemical reactions such as the manufacture of cement, and through natural occurrences. As per the carbon cycle, carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere when it is absorbed by plants and the oceans. The current global average is 383 ppm by volume in the Earth's atmosphere. Higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere make oceans warmer and more acidic.
Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e): The emissions of a greenhouse gas, by weight (usually tonnes), multiplied by its associated global warming potential (GWP). As example, methane has a GWP of 21, so 1 million metric tonnes of methane is equivalent to emissions of 21 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MMTCDE).
Carbon Dioxide Equivalency:  A quantity set for a mixture of greenhouse gases, specifying the amount of CO2 that would have the same global warming potential (GWP), when measured over a specified time, typically 100 years.
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) : An independent organisation which works to disclose the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of the major corporations of the world.
Carbon Intensity: The amount of CO2 emitted by a country relative to its gross domestic product.
Carbon Nanotubes: Are nanoscale, long, thin hollow cylinders of carbon, made from carbon graphite. They are some of the stiffest, strongest and lightweight fibres we have in use and act differently in their many applications.  They are used in materials for building, structural engineering and numerous of other goods, including baseball bats. They are efficient conductors of electricity as well, and are used in nanowires.
Carbon Neutral:  When a process or product through its lifetime does not add net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, this can be achieved either inherently (vegetation) or through the use of offsets and/or sequestration (business ventures).
Carbon Offsets:  Enable individuals and businesses to offset their CO2 emissions by reducing or displacing the CO2 in some other way and place...such as planting trees to absorb an equivalent amount of carbon.  One certificate represents a one-ton reduction in greenhouse gases.
Carbon Productivity:  The amount of Gross Domestic Product produced- per unit of carbon equivalents (CO2e) emitted.
Carbon Sequestration:  The uptake and storage of carbon.
Carbon Sink: Any reservoir that takes up carbon from another part of the carbon cycle, for example forests, oceans and other ecosystems absorb some of the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by human activities.
Carbon Tax:  A tax levied on oil, coal, and gas based on their carbon content, discouraging the use of fossil fuels and aiming to reduce carbon emissions.
Carborexic:  Someone on a strict carbon diet.
Carrying Capacity:  The maximum population of a given species that a particular environment can support during the most unfavorable time of year, without causing environmental damage.
Carson, Rachel:  Marine biologist and author who worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Her 1962 book, Silent Spring first introduced the term ecosystem and warns of the dangers of pesticides, especially DDT.
Cascade Effect:  A series of events each producing the circumstances necessary for the initiation of the next event. As example, secondary extinctions which are the result of a primary extinction of a key species in an ecosystem.
Catalytic Converter:  An apparatus put on a vehicle exhaust system used to reduce the emissions of pollutants from an internal combustion engine.
Catchment Area:  An area that 'catches' rainfall which then drains into a river, aquifer or lake.
Cellulosic Ethanol:  Biofuel made from cellulose.
Certified Emissions Reduction: Commonly known as carbon credits, where each CER unit is equal to the reduction of one metric tonne of CO2, issued by Kyoto's Certified Development Mechanism (CDM) project, and can be sold or counted toward Annex I countries' emissions commitments.
Certified Organic:  When an independent organization accredited by the USDA verifies that a product meets organic standards as specified by the National Organic Program.
Chains of extinction:  When one species' extinction leads to further species' extinctions.
Chemcentric:  The belief that man can control nature with chemicals.
Chemical Cocktail:  Mixtures of chemicals that may do little harm on their own, but together cause great damage to  human cells.
Chemical Oxygen Demand:  An indicator of water quality which indirectly measures the amount of oxygen consumed by organic and inorganic compounds in water by chemical means.  Often used in reference to wastewater.
Chemical treatment (of hazardous waste): Treatment methods that  modify the chemical properties of a hazardous waste,eg, through neutralization of acidity or alkalinity, reducing water content, etc...
Chicago Climate Exchange: CCX is a voluntary GHG cap and trade membership system. Member companies commit to GHG caps, and if they produce more GHGs then committed, they must buy credits from a company who has credits to sell because that company achieved greater emission reductions then they had committed.
Chlorinated Hydrocarbon: (CHC) compounds contain chlorine, carbon and hydrogen, such as the organochlorine pesticides, lindane and DDT. E.g.,  polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and chlorine waste products such as dioxin. Many of these compounds bioaccumulate in the food chain.
Chlorination Byproducts: Carcinogenic chemicals that result from the interaction of chlorine and organic matter in water.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs):  Synthetic industrial gases formed of chlorine, fluorine and carbon whose molecules are normally inert.  They are used as aerosol propellants because they do not alter the material being sprayed, in fire extinguishers,  air conditioners, cleaning solvents and in the manufacture of plastic foam. There are no natural sources of CFCs. They have been implicated in the thinning of the ozone layer and their long term presence in the atmosphere adds to the greenhouse effect.
Chlorophyll:  A green pigment, present in algae and plants, that absorbs radiant energy from the sun and thus plays a fundamental role in photosynthesis.
Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM): Colored organic matter from decaying leaves etc. that finds its way into our waterways and then the marine environment.
Circumpolar Distribution:  Organisms/species that are distributed all around the North or South Poles.
Clean Development Mechanism: Kyoto agreement where industrialised countries who have agreed to a greenhouse gas reduction commitment, invest in offset (CDM) projects in developing countries.
Clean Energy Technologies:  Energy sources that make no or small amounts of carbon emissions.
Clean Fuel Vehicle:  The three categories of federal CFV standards from least to most stringent are low emission vehicles (LEVs), ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), and zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).
Clearcutting:  A logging technique in which all trees are removed from an area at the same time.
Climate Change:  A change in climate over a length of time, usually not less than thirty years.
Climate Classification:  The most widely used classification scheme is the Köppen climate classification where climate zone boundaries were selected with vegetation, temperature and precipitation in mind. The scheme divides the climates into five main groups and several types and subtypes. The 5 main groups are...Tropical Moist climates, Dry climates, Temperate Mid-latitude Moist Mild Winters, Continental Cold Winters climate and Polar climates.
Climate Commitment:  An intent to become more carbon neutral.  Also refers to the fact that climate reacts with a delay to influencing factors such as anthropogenic emissions. Thus the climate is committed to a change even if we were to stop adding emissions as of now.
Climate Modelling:  The use of mathematical models to study the interactions of the oceans, atmosphere, land, and ice. They are used to predict future climates, greenhouse gas levels, emissions levels, circulation, etc.
Climate Sensitivity:  The resultant equilibrium response of the climate to a change, such as a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (since the beginning of the Industrial revolution) resulting in an IPCC estimate temperature increase of 1.5-4.5C (2.7-8.1F).
Climax Forest:  A forest community in the final stage of succession in which species composition remains more or less stable and unchanging.
Closed System:  Where all of a systems elements are constantly recycled through its environment. Where energy might be exchanged with the outside environment yet physical material is not.
Cloud Forest:  A tropical or subtropical montane moist forest characterized by persistent or frequent clouds or mist at the vegetation level. Biodiversity is relatively high, with many species of tree and an abundance of mosses, ferns, lichens, orchids and other epiphytes on every tree and rock surface. Due to their relatively narrow altitudinal zone, global warming is having a significant effect on the world's cloud forests, possibly leading to their extinction.
Coal Cleaning: A set of technologies to remove pollutants from mined coal. Removing the pollutants before the coal is used.
Coal Gasification:  A process converting solid coal into a gas. The coal is washed, ground into a powder and then chemically reacts with oxygen and steam to form a gas containing methane, hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The gas is then used to drive a turbine to produce electricity.
Coastal Onlap: The advance and subsequent deposits further and further inland with sea level rise. Used to evaluate sea level prehistoric and predictive (future) rise and fall.
Coextinction: The loss of one species due to the extinction of another.
Cold Pole:  The place in the Northern and Southern hemispheres with the lowest mean temperatures. In Antarctica, that place is Vostok Station, Antarctica with an annual mean temperature of -55.1 C.
Coliform Organism: A microorganism found in the intestinal tract of people and animals. Their presence in water indicates fecal and  bacterial contamination.
Colony Collapse Disorder:  An event, currently unexplained, of a sudden disappearance of adult honey bees, leaving only the queen and immatures bees in the nest. The cause is thought to be a virus possibly triggered by pesticide exposure.
Combined Sewer:  A sewer that carries both sewage and storm water run-off. In combined sewers, even with a little rain, raw sewage enters directly into the receiving water body.
Comfort Zone:  The range of humidity and temperature within which the human body works most efficiently without feeling chilled or sweating. Subjectively between 19-24 C or 66-75 F.
Commercial Extinction:  The over harvesting of a population (i.e., fish or trees) to a point where its removal becomes uneconomic.
Community-Supported Agriculture: A mutual commitment between a farm, and a community of supporters who pledge to provide the farmers with advance payment in return for weekly baskets of organic, locally grown produce.  Both parties share the benefits and risks of food production.
Compact Flourescents:  Energy efficient florescent light bulbs which fit into standard light sockets.
Compost:  Decomposing organic matter which provides nutrients and enhances soil structure.
Composting: Biological decomposition of organic materials to humus through the action of microorganisms.
Concentrated Solar Power: Is technology that generates electricity from the sun’s heat, unlike photovoltaic cells, which  produce electricity from light.
Conference of the Parties: The supreme body of the UNFCCC which meets annually.
Conservation:  The protection, improvement and thoughtful use of natural resources to provide the greatest social benefit for present and future generations.
Consumerism:  An attitude that values materialistic possessions and the act of acquiring them.
Contrail:  A condensation trail, where a cloud forms due to the exhaust of a jet aircraft.  
Conurbation:  An extensive urban area comprising a number of cities, expanding towns and villages, formerly separate, which  have physically merged to form one continuous built up area.
Conventional Biofuels: Are typically made from corn, sugarcane, beet, or oilseed crops such as soy and rapeseed.
Cooling Water:  Water which is used to absorb and remove heat. When used in nuclear and industrial power plants the intake and discharge of cooling water is often an environmental problem.
Cooperative:  Are businesses/buildings/associations owned and run jointly by its members.  
Coral bleaching: When coral turns white, due to an expulsion of its colorful and beneficial algae. Bleaching occurs when coral is stressed, most usually due to high temperatures.
Coral Reef:  A coastal accumulation of skeletal material that supports living corals.  Develop best in areas with a mean annual temperature of 23 to 25 C (73 to 77F), low nutrients, therefore minimal invasive algae, and light.
Cradle to Cradle: Sustainability through complete product life-cycle, then reborn as a new product (in a new cradle) to repeat the process.
Cradle to Grave: Appraisal examining the impacts at each stage of a product's life-cycle.
Crevasses:  Crevasses are open fissures in glacier ice.
Criteria Pollutants: The EPA uses six "criteria pollutants" as indicators of air quality; Carbon Monoxide (CO), Lead (Pb), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3),Particulate Matter (PM), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2).
Critical Load:   The threshold level above which substantial negative impacts would occur.
Critical Mass:  A point or situation at which change occurs. The phrase is used in many ways for example socially, such as when a social movement becomes self-sustaining and ignites larger growth, and scientifically when a core reactor has enough fuel to create a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
Cryogenic:  Of or relating to very low temperatures.
Cryosphere: The perennially frozen part of the Earth's surface. The cryosphere includes snow cover, floating ice, glaciers, polar ice caps, continental ice sheets, mountain glaciers, seasonally frozen ground and perennially frozen ground (permafrost).
Cryptosporidium:   A microscopic intestinal parasite that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever usually lasting one to two weeks.  Crypto is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the world. Potential sources include contaminated water, swimming pools, lakes, or unpasteurized drinks.
Culling: Selective killing of animals to maintain herd size, or in a domestic situation, for breeding or disease purposes.
Cyclone:  A tropical non-frontal/cyclonic low pressure system which develops an eye and has sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 km/h).  Cyclone is a regionally specific name of a tropical cyclone that occurs in the northern Indian Ocean.  North Indian basin cyclone season is from April to December, with peaks in May and November.


Dark Green:  A label given to those who live as green as possible.
DDT:  Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane: highly toxic insecticide, which accumulates in the food chain. Most DDT in the soil is broken down slowly into DDE and DDD by microorganisms.
Deca:  A toxic type of PBDE (flame retardant) used in electronics which few labs are able to reliably test for, therefore it often comes into the marketplace undetected.
Decomposition:  The breakdown or decay of organic materials which create essential nutrients that plants and animals need and use.
Decomposer: Microorganisms that break down large organic molecules into smaller inorganic molecules.
Debt-for-Nature Swap:  When a conservation agency buys and dismisses some of a developing country's debt, in return the developing country agrees to maintain or put aside a conservation area.
Dedensification: The removal of density by warming up or adding fresh water, both hinder the sinking of dense ocean currents.
Dedicated Vehicle: A vehicle that will operate only on one fuel.
Deep Ecology:  Viewing ecology from a philosophic perspective, where all life is interrelated and of equal value.
Defensive Expenditure:  What people will spend to protect against a decline in environmental quality.
Deforestation: The loss of forests due to overcutting of trees, resulting in habitat and biodiversity loss as well as soil erosion.  
Degree Day: A unit used to measure the intensity of winter. The more degree days, the cooler the climate.
Demand Side Management: Methods utility companies employ to encourage consumers to modify their energy usage, including energy efficiency, load management, fuel substitution and load building.
Denitrification:  The loss of nitrogen from soil; also, the condition resulting from the removal of nitrogen.
De Novo: A new mutation in a gene, not previously present, and not inherited from one's parents.
Desertification:  When land, once potentially suitable for agriculture, turns into desert. Desertification can result from various factors, including climate change, or from human activities, such as deforestation and overgrazing.
Diesel Particulate Matter: or DPM are in the size range of 100 nanometres. Due to their small size they can penetrate deeply into the lungs and cause complications.
Diffuse pollution:  Pollution that has no clear single or definite source of origin.  E.g., acid rain.
Digester Gas: Is biogas produced during the decomposition of biomass.
Dioxin:  Collectively refers to a group of about 300 structurally and chemically related cancer causing compounds, known as halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, including Dioxin's, Furans and the "dioxin- like" Biphenyls (PCBs). They are by-products of certain chemical processes.  In the environment, dioxins settle on soil and in the water, then pass into the food chain. They are stored in fat tissue, and most people contain an assortment of dioxins.
Disincentives: Regulations, fees, taxes, policies, or programs which act as deterrents.
Distributed Generation:  Small- scale, modular, decentralized power generation technologies located nearby to where the energy is used.
Dobson Unit: A unit of measurement expressing the amount of ozone in a given column of stratosphere under standard conditions. The unit thickness is expressed as a concentrate and as if all other gases were removed. As example 1 DU of ozone is equivalent to a layer of ozone .01mm thick.
Doomsday Seed Vault:  A seed bank in Norway housing 4.5million different seed types, which represents the agricultural diversity of the planet; hopes to provide mankind with genetic resources in case of a global catastrophe.
Down-the-Drain Chemical: Chemicals such as drugs, household cleaning and laundry products that enter our water system.


E85:  Ethanol/gasoline mixture that contains 85% denatured ethanol and 15% gasoline.
Earthshine: (Earthlight) Light reflected by the earth, as moonlight is light reflected by the moon.
East Antarctic Ice Sheet: That part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet which lies in the Eastern     
Hemisphere. A line drawn through the Transantarctic Mountains to the Antarctic Peninsula delineates      east from west.  
East Greenland Current:  A south flowing current running along Greenland's east coast which forms part of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre. A major outflow route of Arctic water into the Atlantic.
EC ecolabel:  EU eco label scheme that promotes and certifies environmentally friendly products.
Eco-Anthropology:  The study of humans interactions with their environment.  
Ecoclimatology:  The study of the relations between organisms and their climatic environment.
Studies the adaptation of plants and animals to their climate and the geographical distribution of organisms in relation to climate.
Eco Design: Design which factors in the environmental impacts at all stages of a product's life cycle, from  the product's development, material use, life cycle and its disposal or preferred renewal.
Eco Efficiency or Eco Intensity:  (materials + energy + pollution) per unit of output.
Ecological Corridor: A band of vegetation/habitat that allows the movement of animals, birds and plants between two areas.
Ecological Footprint:  The area of land and water (usually measured in hectares) needed to produce the natural resources required by a defined economy or population at a specified standard of living, in a given year.
Eco-modding: Eco-modifying, or tinkering with cars to make them more environmentally friendly.
Eco Paper:  Recycled papers with one or more of the following characteristics: a) high levels of post consumer recycled content b) any added virgin fiber is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified c) the production mill uses the cleanest possible methods, and does not use dangerous chemicals, such as chlorine.
Ecological Rucksack: The environmental cost in raw materials and energy expended in the production and use/maintenance of a product or service (sometimes you will see use/maintenance left out). The metaphor rucksack (backpack) is used to express the Earth's environmental carrying capacity for the product/service.  This is expressed as a relative index number. Example: one kilo of gold has an ecological rucksack of 540,000 kilos, whereas rubber has a rucksack only 5 times its weight.
Ecophilia: An innate emotional affiliation to the environment.
Ecophobia: A fear of one's outdoor environment.
Ecopoiesis:  The fabrication of a sustainable ecosystem from scratch. E.g., microbial seeding.
Ecopsychology:  The merging of psychology and ecology.
Ecosystem: A community of organisms and their physical environment.
Ecosystem Services:  The 'free' materials and services that the planet provides for us, such as rain, nutrients, pollination, cycles and recreation.
Ecotone:  A zone of transition from one major plant community to another.
Ecotourism: Nature Conservancy definition  "Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples."
El Nino:  The development of warmer ocean surface water off the coast of Equador and Peru when the Trade Winds weaken and the usual upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water lessens. This warming of South America's coastal waters has great effect on climatic patterns throughout the globe especially when the warming is prolonged.
El Niño-Southern Oscillation:  (ENSO)  The ENSO cycle includes El Niño and La Niña phases as well as neutral phases.
Emissions: The release of substances (ie, greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere.
Emissions Cap: A mandated limit within a set time frame that puts a ceiling on the amount of   greenhouse gas emissions that a company or country can release into the atmosphere.
Emissions Leakage: A concept used to refer to a shift in generation and the associated
emissions from regulated (capped) sources to unregulated sources.
Emissions Permits:  A tradable permit, issued by an authoritative body, allowing entitlement to release a specified amount of a polluting substance.
Emissions Reduction Unit (ERU): from Kyoto "Emissions reductions generated by projects in Annex B countries that can be used by another Annex B country to help meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Reductions must be additional to those that would otherwise occur."
Emissions Standards:  Specific limits to the amount of pollutants that can be released into the environment.
Emissions Trading: A incentive based market system that allows emitters (countries, companies or facilities) to buy emissions from, or sell emissions to, other emitters.  Only a limited number of permits are issued allowing the release of pollutants.  The emitters may use their permits and release the pollutants, or somehow reduce their emissions and sell the permits.
End of Life Vehicles Directive: An EU directive mandating that automakers pay the majority of costs for taking back and recycling cars at the end of their lives. US automakers are just recently starting to prevent mercury from entering the environment by directing that Hg mercury added switches be removed by the recycling industry at the vehicle’s end of life, prior to being scraped.
Endangered Species:  Threatened with extinction.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Synthetic or natural chemicals  that negatively disrupt the endocrine system. Examples are the pesticides, plasticizers, pharmaceuticals, and other pollutants that interfere with estrogen and other system signals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are known to sometimes trigger reproductive, developmental and other health problems.
Energy Conversion:  The conversion of one form of energy to another, such as converting thermal energy (heat or exergy) into electricity. In steam-driven electric power plants; heat is converted into mechanical energy, and then the mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy.
Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard:  Standards which require utilities to meet a percentage of their energy needs through renewable energy resources or energy efficiency measures. Some schemes allow trading between utilities. In some states standards are mandatory, in others voluntary.
Energy Star:  A joint programme of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy created in 1992, that encourages the promotion of energy-efficient products and practices, through an Energy Star labeling scheme.
Engineered Geothermal Systems:  Is a system where two parallel lines are drilled into the earth. One line pumps water into the earth where it becomes heated,  the other line pumps out the hot water and steam. The steam is used to run turbines, while the hot water might be used for home heating.
Englacial:  Inside a glacier.
Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale:  A 0 to 5 scale used to classify tornado damage, 5 being the worst.
Enteric Fermentation: The fermentation process which takes place in the digestive systems of ruminant animals.
Enzymology:  The study of the properties and actions of enzymes.
Ephemeralization:  A Buckminster Fuller coined term meaning 'doing more with less' or living sustainably.
Epidemiology:  The study of diseases as they affect populations be they human or other. Specifically how they occur, when, and their distribution.
Epigenetics: Inherited genetic expression not encoded in DNA.
Epiphytes:  Grow on other plants, mostly trees or shrubs, without the need for soil. Are usually not parasitic. Also called air plants.
Equilibrium Line:  The level on a glacier, above which there is accumulation, and below which is ablation.
Escalator Effect:  When species are forced to move steadily upward in altitude in response to climate change.
Estrogenic: Relating to, mimicking or caused by estrogen.
Ethanol:  Is produced chemically from ethylene or biologically from the fermentation of the sugars in carbohydrates in agricultural crops and/or cellulosic residues from crops or wood. Usually derived from corn.
Ethnobiology:  The study of how differing cultures relate to, and utilize, their native plants and animals.
European Climate Change Programme: European Commission program set up in June of 2000, to identify and develop an EU strategy that will implement the Kyoto Protocol.
European Emissions Trading Scheme. The world’s largest multi-national greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme which started on January 1, 2005.
Eutrophication:  The over enrichment of surface water due to dissolved nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, through natural or man made processes. This produces an environment that favors plant (mainly algae) growth over animal life. The algae's decay depletes dissolved oxygen, resulting in the suffocation of fish.
Evapotranspiration: The transfer of water from the Earth's surface to the atmosphere by evaporation from bodies of water, soil, and by transpiration from plants.
Evo-devo: Evolutionary developmental biology.
Exajoule:   One ExaJoule equals a quintillion (1018) joules or a quadrillion (1015) kilojoules. A joule is an extremely small unit of energy; one kilojoule is slightly less than one British
Thermal Unit (Btu).
Exclusive Economic Zone:  A sea zone over which a coastal state has jurisdiction rights over the exploration and exploitation of marine resources for a band extending 200 miles from the shore.
Exogenous:  Outside the organism or model.
Exosphere:  The outermost layer of the Earth's atmosphere.
External Forcing:  A non-climate event which forces climate change, such as a volcano, or increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases, or solar flares.
Externality:  Is an inadvertent impact effecting the well being of another party (usually negative) who was not involved in a given economic action, e.g.  pollution, acid rain, global warmimg...
Extinction vortices:  Are models that categorize extinctions by their causes.
Extremophile:  An organism which has adapted to, and thrives in, extreme conditions.


Fair Trade:  An organized social movement and model for international trading partnerships which aims to treat and pay farmers and employees fairly, by promoting the payment of a fair price, encouraging sustainable practices, prohibiting child labor, etc.
Fair Trade Certified: A label that certifies products as Fair Trade. Administered by TransFair USA.
Fair Trade Federation:  An association of businesses and organizations who certify companies, stating that their purchasing methods, employment practices, ethics, etc. are committed to Fair Trade policies.
Feebates:  Taxes on inefficient vehicles.
Feedstock:  Any raw material, usually plant or agricultural waste, destined to be processed into a fuel or energy product.
Firn: Dense packed snow built up over seasons, the lowest layers becoming glacial ice.
Firn Line: Is where the snow has persisted from the prior winter on a glacier, above which the firn will become glacial ice. Below the firn line is the ablation zone where snow does not build up.
Fischer-Tropsch Process:  A method of synthesizing gaseous hydrocarbons, such as natural gas and gasified coal, or biomass, into synthetic liquid fuel. Combined with biomass gasification or coal gasification, Fischer Tropsch can be used to create renewable fuels.
Fixed Carbon:  1) The solid residue left after coal combustion, exclusive of ash. 2) The amount of CO2 that is converted into plant biomass by the process of photosynthesis.
Flexitarians: Significantly reduce their meat consumption without becoming full vegetarians – a shift partly attributable to the nonprofit promotion of Meatless Mondays.
Floobydust:  Filed items that don't fit anywhere else-'a mixed bag'.
Fluorinated Gases:  Potent synthetic greenhouse gases, emitted from a variety of industrial processes, sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases (e.g. hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride)
Flywheel (Energy Storage): A mechanical kinetic battery using electrical input which accelerates a rotor on magnetic bearings in a vacuum that then acts as a generator.  This is one potential technology to replace conventional lead acid batteries.
Food Desert:  An urban location where a lack of quality grocery stores and farm produce limits access to affordable, fresh food. Usually these areas are chock full of fast food restaurants.
Food miles: Indicates the distance between where a food is produced and where it is consumed.
A "food mile" is the distance food travels from the farm to the store where you buy it, American food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to table, reports the Worldwatch Institute.
Food Security:  When there is assured access at all times to enough food.
Forest Stewardship Council: (FSC) Certifies wood does not come from forests that are endangered, threatened, old-growth or ancient.
Founder Effect: Refers to the loss of genetic variation when a very small group becomes reproductively separated from the larger population.
Fracking Fluids: Unregulated toxic chemicals that are pumped underground to break up (fracture) seams of rock to increase oil and gas production.
Fraction:  Hydrocarbons separated out of crude oil by fractional distillation and having specific boiling point ranges.
Frankenfood: A derogatory term for genetically modified food.
Freegan:  Combination of vegan and free; a growing movement of people proving that it is possible to live off of consumer waste.
Fuel Cell: An electrochemical device that directly produces electricity by combining a gas fuel, usually hydrogen, with an oxidant, almost always oxygen, leaving a waste product of water.  Actual and potential applications include fuel cell vehicles, off-grid power supply, auxillary power, etc...
Fujita Scale:  A scale of tornado wind damage intensity where wind speeds are inferred from the amount of damage: F0 (weak): 40- 72 mph, light damage. F1 (weak): 73-112 mph, moderate damage. F2 (strong): 113-157 mph, considerable damage. F3 (strong): 158-206 mph, severe damage. F4 (violent): 207-260 mph, devastating damage. F5 (violent): 261-318 mph, incredible damage.
Full-Cost Accounting: Accounting that includes all environmental, economic, and social costs and benefits (externalities).
Functional Foods:  Foods enhanced with added health benefits.
Functionally extinct:  When only a small number of non-reproducing individuals survive.  
Fungible:  Where one item is similar to another and accepted as the same thing, i.e., money.


G8:  Group of 8. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Game Theory: An approach to analysing how people, companies and governments might behave in strategic situations and how others might respond to what they do.
Gas Flaring:  Is the venting and then burning of pressurized natural gas. Gas flares are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and release toxins such as dioxin and benzene.
Gasification: Processes whereby solid fuels are converted into a combustible gas.
Gasohol (E10)  Gasoline that contains 10% ethanol.
Gasoline Gallon Equivalent: (GGE)  A unit for measuring alternative fuels, comparing them with gasoline on an energy equivalent basis. This is necessary as different fuels have different energy densities.
Geoengineering:  Large scale proposed environmental engineering projects with the goal of altering Earth's climate, such as adding sulfite particles into the stratosphere.
Geotourism: Tourism that enhances and helps sustain the character of a location.
General Circulation Model: (GCM) A 3D computer model of the globe's climate system.
Genetic drift: aka allelic drift, is the evolutionary process of change in the gene frequencies of a population from one generation to the next where chance probability determines which variants of a gene will be carried forward while others disappear.
Genetic Mapping: Mapping the relative positions of genes on a DNA molecule.
Genetically Modified Organism: (Transgenic) Where the genes of one organism are combined with that of another, deliberately altering the genetic material. The long-term impact on humans, crops, etc. is unknown.
Geothermal Energy:  Natural heat from within the earth that may be captured for the production of electric power, space heating or steam to drive turbines.
Geothermal Gradient:  The rate of increase in temperature per unit depth in the Earth.
Gigabyte:  Giga means one billion. One billion bytes of info.
Gigawatts Electric:  One GWe equals one billion (109) watts or 1 million kilowatts.
Glacial Soil: (Drift)  Material which was carried along with, pushed ahead of, or moved upon an advancing ice sheet.
Glacial Rebound: The land height adjustment of formerly glaciated areas after glacial retreat.
Global Climate Change: is the term most often used by the scientific community; global warming is the term most often used by the media and the public.
Global Dimming:  A reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface due to particulate matter in the atmosphere. This effect lessens global warming.
Global Gardening:  Returning carbon to the soil.
Global Public Goods: Goods and services administered by multiple countries, such as international policies. A clean environment, health, peace and security are also deemed global public goods.
Global Warming:  Is a progressive increase in the Earth's average air temperature and ocean temperatures over an extended time period.
Global Warming Potential:(GWP) Is a measurement which describes the ratio of global warming, or radiative forcing, of one unit mass of a greenhouse gas, to that of one unit mass of carbon dioxide over a specified time period.  (Calculates the different greenhouse gases' warming effects as compared with carbon dioxide.)
GMO: Genetically Modified Organism or Transgenic. Where the genes of one plant or animal are combined with that of another, deliberately altering its genetic makeup, to produce specific traits. The long-term impact on humans, other crops, etc. is unknown.
Grassoline:  Biofuel made from switchgrass or another perennial grass.
Great Ocean Conveyor Belt: A system of ocean currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that transfers heat around the globe.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch: An area of marine debris (mostly plastic) in the North Pacific Gyre in the Pacific Ocean. The circular rotation of the gyre keeps the debris at its center. When sampled in 2001, the Patch yielded six pounds (3.6 kilos) of plastic for every pound (half kilo) of plankton in the water. Greenpeace estimates that each year roughly 10% of manufactured plastics end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Green Carbon: The carbon that is sequestered and stored in natural, biologically diverse ecosystems.
Green-Collar Fraud:  When a company promotes a product as green, when in truth it is not.
Green-Collar Job:  Employment in the clean energy or an environmentally friendly field.
Green Construction: Environmentally friendly and sustainable construction methods.
Green Crime: A crime against the environment. The new green crime law in the EU treats nine environmental offences as criminal acts. They range from harming protected plants or species, to dumping toxins, to unlawful trade in ozone depleting substances.
Greenfluencers:  A small percentage of the population that have an influence upon others' green buying patterns, behaviors and attitudes.
Green Globe: An international eco-certification program geared toward travel and hospitality companies.
Greenhouse Effect: The insulating effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases which trap the sun's warmth like greenhouse glass. The gases absorb long wave radiation thereby preventing the warmth from escaping back into space. Greenhouse gas quantities are proportionate to warming.
Greenhouse Gas: Any gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. Such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, tropospheric ozone, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons and methane.
Green Power Marketing: Is a customer-driven market for clean electricity, where consumers (you) have the option to choose your electric supplier and choose between its multiple service offerings.
Green Pricing:  An optional fee service that electric utilities offer their customers who wish to support clean energy. When you sign up, you are helping your utility company supplement its purchasing of, or investments in, renewable energy.
Grey Carbon:  The carbon that is held in fossil fuels.
Grey Water: Aka "sullage", the residues of washing processes. Wash water (other than toilet water) that can be re-used for irrigation, toilets, etc.
Grid: The infrastructure used by utility companies, made up of a network of conductors, for distribution of electricity.
Griggs–Putnam Index: 0-7 scale that correlates tree deformation with wind speed, 0=no deformity.
Ground-Level Ozone: Ozone in the low level troposphere is a pollutant that is harmful to breathe and damages vegetation. It is a main ingredient of smog.
Growing Degree Days:  A heat index that relates the development of plants, insects, and disease organisms to air temperature and helps to prediction maturity.
Gyres:  Large-scale circular currents of water driven by the global wind system.  Eight gyres drive the ocean surface circulation patterns of Earth.  
Guerrilla Gardening:  When activists plant a garden, on an abandoned, unkempt piece of land, which they do not own.



Photo Credits: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License:
Jenny Huang from Taipei, ''Aracana ornata'' |photographer=suneko |photographer_location=
|photographer_url= |flickr_url=
|taken=December 3, 2006 |reviewer= }} == Licens) and InspirationGreen


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    Waterproof, strong and long lasting. We have been decorating our homes with shells for thousands of years...
  • Shell Walls
    Shell encrusted walls were all the rage in the 1700s...and there seems to be a resurgence.
  • Straw Bale Greenhouses
    With a minimum R value of 38, straw bale is always a great choice for at least one wall in a cold climate greenhouse.
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