The green movement
comes with a language all its own. Following is a glossary
of terms gleaned from a listing provided by the Natural Resources
Defense Council (www.nrdc.org).
Transportation fuels other than gasoline or diesel. Includes
natural gas, methanol and electricity.
material composed primarily of naturally occurring constituent
parts, able to be broken down and absorbed into the ecosystem.
Carbon dioxide. A
naturally occurring greenhouse gas in the atmosphere,
concentrations of which have increased (from 280 parts per million
in preindustrial times to more than 350 parts per million today) as
a result of humans’ burning of coal, oil, natural gas and organic
Carbon tax. A charge
on fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) based on their carbon
content. When burned, the carbon in these fuels becomes carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere, the chief greenhouse gas.
Clean fuel. Fuels that
have lower emissions than conventional gasoline and diesel. Refers
to alternative fuels as well as to reformulated gasoline and
Compost. The process
whereby organic wastes, including food, paper and yard wastes,
decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and
ideal for gardening and farming.
Emissions cap. A limit
on the amount of greenhouse gases that a company or country can
Fossil fuel. A fuel,
such as coal, oil and natural gas, produced by the decomposition of
ancient (fossilized) plants and animals.
Gas. Natural gas, used
fuel, used to power cars, trucks, lawn mowers, etc.
Global warming. An
increase in the average temperature of the earth’s surface.
Green design. A
design, usually architectural, conforming to environmentally sound
principles of building, material and energy use. A green building,
for example, might make use of solar panels, skylights and recycled
Greenhouse effect. The
process that raises the temperature of air in the lower atmosphere
due to heat trapped by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons and ozone.
Ozone. A naturally
occurring, highly reactive gas comprising triatomic oxygen formed
by recombination of oxygen in the presence of ultraviolet
radiation. This gas builds up in the lower atmosphere as smog,
while in the upper atmosphere it forms a protective layer that
shields the earth from excessive exposure to damaging ultraviolet
Ozone depletion. The
reduction of the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere
by chemical pollution.
Energy resources such as wind power or solar energy that can keep
producing indefinitely without being depleted.
communities. Communities capable of maintaining their
present levels of growth without damaging effects.
Toxic waste. Garbage
or waste that can injure, poison or harm living things and is
vehicles. Vehicles (usually powered by electricity) with
no direct emissions from tailpipes or fuel evaporation.
The Natural Resources Defense
Council(www.nrdc.org) is an environmental action organization
based in Washington, D.C.