Alternative energy: is any energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. These alternatives are intended to address concerns about such fossil fuels. The nature of what constitutes an alternative energy source has changed considerably over time, as have controversies regarding energy use. Today, because of the variety of energy choices and differing goals of their advocates, defining some energy types as "alternative" is highly controversial.
Anthropocentrism: (from Greek ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos, "human being"; and κέντρον,kéntron, "center") is the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet (in the sense that they are considered to have a moral status or value higher than that of other animals), or the assessment of reality through an exclusively human perspective.
Atmosphere: is a layer of gases surrounding a planet or other material body of sufficient mass that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere is more likely to be retained if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low. The atmosphere of Earth, which is mostly nitrogen, also contains oxygen used by most organisms for respiration and carbon dioxide used by plants, algae and cyanobacteria for photosynthesis, also protects living organisms from genetic damage by solar ultraviolet radiation. Its current composition is the product of billions of years of biochemical modification of the paleoatmosphere by living organisms.
Biodegradation: is the chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria, fungi or other biological means. Although often conflated, biodegradable is distinct in meaning from compostable. While biodegradable simply means to be consumed by microorganisms and return to compounds found in nature, "compostable" makes the specific demand that the object break down under composting conditions.
Biodiversity: is the degree of variation of life. It is a measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems. This can refer to genetic variation, ecosystem variation, or species variation (number of species) within an area, biome, or planet. Terrestrial biodiversity tends to be highest near the equator, which seems to be the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth.
Biomass: is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. It most often refers to plants or plant-based materials which are specifically called lignocellulosic biomass. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly via combustion to produce heat, or indirectly after converting it to various forms of biofuel. Conversion of biomass to biofuel can be achieved by different methods which are broadly classified into: thermal, chemical, and biochemical methods.
Biosphere: is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be termed the zone of life on Earth, a closed system (apart from solar and cosmic radiation and heat from the interior of the Earth), and largely self-regulating. By the most general biophysiological definition, the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships, including their interaction with the elements of the lithosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide: (chemical formula CO2) is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms each covalently double bonded to a single carbon atom. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure and exists in Earth's atmosphere in this state, as a trace gas at a concentration of 0.04 percent (400 ppm) by volume, as of 2014. As part of the carbon cycle, plants, algae, and cyanobacteria use lightenergy to photosynthesize carbohydrate from carbon dioxide and water, with oxygen produced as a waste product.
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) and Equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e): are two related but distinct measures for describing how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as the reference.
Climate change: is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as "global warming".
Ecology: is the scientific analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment, such as the interactions organisms have with each other and with their abiotic environment. Topics of interest to ecologists include the diversity, distribution, amount (biomass), number (population) of organisms, as well as competition between them within and among ecosystems. Ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts including organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and various niche construction activities, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits, and the variety of organisms is called biodiversity. Biodiversity, which refers to the varieties of species, genes, and ecosystems, enhances certain ecosystem services.
Environment: is the biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development and evolution. The biophysical environment can vary in scale from microscopic to global in extent. It can also be subdivided according to its attributes. Examples include the marine environment, the atmospheric environment and the terrestrial environment. The number of biophysical environments is countless, given that each living organism has its own environment.
Environmental impact assessment: is the formal process used to predict the environmental consequences (positive or negative) of a plan, policy, program, or project prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. Formal impact assessments may be governed by rules of administrative procedure regarding public participation and documentation of decision-making, and may be subject to judicial review. An impact assessment may propose measures to adjust impacts to acceptable levels or to investigate new technological solutions.
Greenhouse effect: is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.
Greenhouse gas: (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Greenhouse gases greatly affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would average about 33 °C colder, which is about 59 °F below the present average of 14 °C (57 °F).
Habitat: is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population.
Ozone layer or ozone shield: refers to a region of Earth's stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun's UV radiation. It contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) relative to other parts of the atmosphere, although it is still very small relative to other gases in the stratosphere. The ozone layer contains fewer than ten parts per million of ozone, while the average ozone concentration in Earth's atmosphere as a whole is only about 0.3 parts per million.
Pollution: is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution.
Resilience: In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic events such as fires, flooding, windstorms, insect population explosions, and human activities such as deforestation, fracking of the ground for oil extraction, pesticide sprayed in soil, and the introduction of exotic plant or animal species.
Solar panel: refers either to a photovoltaic module, a solar hot water panel, or to a set of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules electrically connected and mounted on a supporting structure. A PV module is a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells. Solar panels can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications.
Sustainable development (SD): is a process for achieving sustainability in any activity that uses resources and where immediate and intergenerational replication is demanded. Sustainable development coincides with further economic growth and human development in the developed economy (and society) for finding the means of continual development beyond economic development.