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Environmental Awareness Level 1 Glossary of Terms Acidification- (Ocean) is the name given to the on-going decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of human impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere

Biodiversity- a term used to describe the variety of life on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of ecosystems (a community of living organisms: animals, plants, their habitats and their genes).

Climate change- a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions, or in the distribution of weather around the average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events).

Carbon Footprint- the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Earth’s resources - Natural resources are materials and components (something that can be used) that can be found within the environment. Every man-made product is composed of natural resources (at its fundamental level). A natural resource may exist as a separate entity such as fresh water, and air, as well as a living organism such as a fish, or it may exist in an alternate form which must be processed to obtain the resource such as metal ores, oil, and most forms of energy.

Embodied Energy- is the sum of all the energy required to produce goods or services, considered as if that energy was incorporated or 'embodied' in the product itself. The concept can be useful in determining the effectiveness of energy-producing or energy-saving devices (does the device produce or save more energy that it took to make it?).

Emission – (of greenhouse gases, a gas) in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation.


Fossil fuels- are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition (where micro-organisms break down biodegradable material without oxygen) of buried dead organisms. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

Greenhouse gases - The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Greywater- is wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Greywater differs from water from the toilets which is designated sewage or blackwater to indicate it contains human waste.

Rainwater harvesting- is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can make an important contribution to the availability of drinking water

Renewable energy - is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished).

The solar cycle - (or solar magnetic activity cycle) has a period of about 11 years. The cycle is observed by counting the frequency and placement of sunspots visible on the Sun. Solar variation causes changes in space weather and to some degree weather and climate on Earth.

Sustainable development - is a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come

Three strands of sustainability- integrating economic, social & environmental considerations

Environmental Awareness glossary