Eco Speak Explained

Article excerpt

CONVERSATIONS on climate change and sustainability can be confusing - there's a whole dictionary of new jargon out there. Potentially these are some of the most important conversations of our times, so it's important to know what the buzz words mean.

Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of living organisms on Earth. It's about species richness, ecosystem complexity and genetic variation in the natural world.

Carbon emissions are the gases containing carbon (ie, CO2, CH4) that are pumped into our atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels to provide energy and services we use every day.

Carbon emissions trading is the buying and selling of permits to emit greenhouse gases. The concept encourages companies to cut emissions so they can sell leftover permits for profit.

Climate change describes the long-term changes in temperature, rainfall, wind and all other aspects of the Earth's climate. It particularly describes dramatic and noticeable changes in average annual temperatures and weather patterns around the world, called global warming.

Ecosystem is a complex, interdependent system comprising organic and other living things. Emissions refer to any materials released into the natural environment as a by-product of our industrial culture.

Environmental sustainability describes the ability of an activity to continue indefinitely, at current and projected levels, without depleting resources.

Environmental footprint is a measure of the impact an activity has on the environment. It relates to the amount of land needed to produce the things we need.

Greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. They're released through rotting vegetation, coal burning, mining and agriculture, soils and fertilisers. …