Feeling overwhelmed by the extensive list of climate related buzz words? We’ve got you covered.
Here is a working list of terms so you can join the global conversation and movement towards loving our planet hard.
(Adjective); An object or substance that is capable of decomposing, or naturally breaking down, through bacteria or other living organisms. (For the record, your flip flops are not biodegradable - unless of course, they are made out of algae).
Building biology (Baubiologie) according to the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology is a “science that leads to natural healthy ecological homes, schools, and workplaces that exist in harmony with the planetary environment.” (Source)
(Noun); The amount of carbon dioxide (and other carbon compounds) released into the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels by a particular person, group or thing. (The drive downtown contributes to your personal carbon footprint, because nonelectric vehicles use fossil fuels to operate).
(Noun); Compost is decayed organic material often used as plant fertilizer. However, Composting, is the process of turning organic waste (think of the apple core you throw away after you eat the apple) into a nutrient rich soil conditioner (aka, stuff your garden loves).
(Noun); The act of preserving, protecting or restoring the natural environment, it’s natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife. (For example - our national parks, and the endangered species list).
(Noun); A recycling practice that involves breaking an item down into its basic elements or materials, and then re-using them (if possible) to make a lower-value product. In plain speak it means - we take an object, break it up into its most basic parts or pieces and then use those pieces to build another, lesser quality and/or less expensive product.
(Noun); 1. A spherical planetary ecosystem that is 4.5 billion years old, is a collection of habitats to over 8.5 million species (including humans), consisting of four systems: atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), geosphere (rocks, minerals) and biosphere (living organisms, aka: us), which rotates on an axis around the sun, in our solar system, within the milky way galaxy, in the ever expanding cosmos we call the Universe ... (sorry, we had a tab bit fun with this one.) 2. Home... (hey, it’s the only one we’ve got).
(Noun); The rising temperature of the earth’s surface caused by the build up of green house gases (including carbon dioxide and methane gas), due to the human use of materials like fossil fuels, which trap heat in lower levels of the atmosphere - thus making this warmer.
Green New Deal (GND)
A U.S. congressional resolution (that means it’s not a bill, legislation, policy or even a comprehensive roadmap), that frames a vision or set of goals to address the climate crisis -- And how to protect people who might be affected by a transition to a fossil fuel free economy. It’s 14 pages. Read the Green New Deal Here.
(Noun); 1. “Any of the gases whose absorption of solar radiation is responsible for the greenhouse effect, including carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and the fluorocarbons.” 2016 greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere included 81% carbon dioxide and 10% methane gas. (source)
Here is the long and the short of it (sorry - long wave and short wave radiation humor): Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere by allowing short wave radiation from the sun to enter our atmosphere while simultaneously capturing escaping heat from the planet (long wave radiation) in the atmosphere, and bouncing back that heat towards the earth. This increased warming due to green house gases is called the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the cause of global warming. Global warming is the cause of climate change. (source)
(Noun); Going green is term used to describe the act of making environmentally conscious decisions in our day to day living. Going Green buzz phrases include "reduce, reuse and recycle." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce describes it as taking steps to "conserve energy, reduce pollution and save money."
(Noun); Microplastics (Plural Noun);
“Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragments that is less than five millimeters in length according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” (source)
Read about the plastic and microplastics washing ashore at the Cocos Keeling Islands here.
(Adjective); Organic: relating to or derived from living matter.
The ozone layers exists in the earth’s stratosphere (air). Zone is made of molecules containing three Oxygen atoms, so the ozone itself is a trace gas in the atmosphere. Yet, it absorbs about 98% of the Sun’s ultraviolet light, so it is often compared to sunscreen.
Ozone depletion occurs when CFC’s (human-produced chlorofluorocarbons - think aerosol hair spray!) are released into the air. The pollutants breakdown the ozone by thinning it, particularly around the polar caps. This has been documented only since the mid 1980’s.
Ozone depletion and global warming are not the same thing!
(Noun); A layer in the earth's stratosphere at an altitude of about 6.2 miles (10 km or 15-25 kilometers above the earth's surface) “ which acts as a barrier between the earth and the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.” containing a high concentration of ozone, which absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth from the sun.
(Noun); Plastics (plural noun); A synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form once it hardens (think Tupperware — and almost everything else we use daily, like plastic bags, to-go containers, etc.).
(Verb); Converting reusable waste (certain types of plastic, paper, metal, etc. ) into a material or an object that would be used again, thus creating a cycle. Wiki has everything to say about it here.
Sick Building Syndrome
(Noun); 1. A physical condition affecting people who work in enclosed office buildings, who report headaches and respiratory problems that are thought to be caused by unhealthy environments, such as buildings with poor ventilation (which trap VOC’s).
(Noun); A way of living or relating to the natural world that avoids the depletion of natural resources (in the environment) in order to maintain ecological balance.
(Verb); To reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.
VOC (Volatile organic compounds)
1. Any material, substance or byproduct that is discarded and thrown away after use or completion and is disposed of in municipal landfills (AKA the dump).
3. Garbage that gets dumped into landfills where it is stored and buried. Landfills are not designed to break down trash and not all material in trash can break down. When trash is buried without oxygen, over time, trash emits gases such as ammonia, sulfide, methane and carbon dioxide, which escape into the atmosphere. “In terms of global warming potential, methane is over 25 times more detrimental to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States” (source).
Zero Waste is a philosophy that advocates eliminating waste sent to landfills or incinerators by either reusing products or avoiding the use of non-recyclable, and/or single use products (like plastic bags and plastic product packaging, (AKA all the plastic guck floating in the ocean).
Zero Waste does not necessarily ensure ecological sustainability. For example, it does not focus on the type of energy used to create the waste products in the first place.