Climate change: Glossary terms for journalists
Climate Change in Africa is real.
Are you a journalists keen to report on Climate Change? Her are all terms related to climate change that should know. There is a also a guidebook for you.
For more read the source: UNESCO’s Climate Change in Africa, A Guidebook for journalists
Adaptation: Activities undertaken as well as individual and collective behavioural changes aiming to reduce the vulnerability and build the resilience of biological and human systems to the effects of global warming.
Aerosol: An aerosol is a collection of microscopic particles, solid or liquid, suspended in a gas. In the context of air pollution, an aerosol refers to fine particulate matter that is larger than a molecule, but small enough to remain suspended in the atmosphere for at least several hours.
Afforestation: The establishment of a forest through tree planting or seeding on land that has lacked forest cover for a very long time or has never been forested.
Agenda 21: Adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact the environment.
Agroforestry: An ecologically based farming system that, through the integration of trees in farms, increases social, environmental and economic benefits to land users.
Anthropogenic: Man-made, not natural.
Arable land: Land that can be used for growing crops.
Atmosphere: General name for the layer of gases around a material body; the Earth’s atmosphere consists, from the ground up, of the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere (or thermosphere), exosphere and magnetosphere.
Biodiversity: The variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations; includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity.
Bioenergy: Used in different senses: in its most narrow sense it is a synonym for Biofuel, fuel derived from biological sources. In its broader sense it encompasses also Biomass (e.g. wood), the biological material used as a biofuel.
Biofuel: The fuel produced by the chemical and/or biological processing of biomass. Biofuel will either be a solid (e.g. charcoal), liquid (e.g. ethanol) or gas (e.g. methane).
Biogas: Landfill gas and sewage gas, also called biomass gas.
Biomass: The materials derived from photosynthesis such as forest, agricultural crops, wood and wood wastes, animal wastes, livestock operation residues, aquatic plants, and municipal and industrial wastes; also, the quantity of organic material present in unit area at a particular time mostly expressed as tons of dry matter per unit area; also organic matter that can be used as fuel.
Biome: A climatic and geographically defined area of ecologically similar communities of plants, animals, and soil
organisms, often referred to as ecosystems.
Biosphere: The part of the Earth, including air, land, surface rocks, and water, within which life occurs, and which biotic processes in turn alter or transform.
Carbon credit: A market-driven way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions; it allows an agent to benefit financially from an emission reduction.
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e ): The unit used to measure the impacts of releasing (or avoiding the release of )
different greenhouse gases; it is obtained by multiplying the mass of the greenhouse gas by its global warming potential. For example, this would be 21 for methane and 310 for nitrous oxide.
Carbon dioxide: A gas with the chemical formula CO2; the most abundant greenhouse gas emitted from fossil fuels.
Carbon footprint: A measure of the carbon emissions that are emitted over the full life cycle of a product, service or lifestyle.
Carbon neutral: Generally refers to activities where net carbon inputs and outputs are the same. For example, assuming a constant amount of vegetation on the planet, in the short term burning wood will add carbon to the atmosphere but this carbon will cycle back into new plant growth.
Carbon sink: Any carbon storage system that causes a net removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Carbon source: Opposite of carbon sink; a net source of carbon for the atmosphere.
CFC: Chloroflorocarbon. CFCs are potent greenhouse gases which are not regulated by the Kyoto Protocol since they are covered by the Montreal Protocol.
Chronic: Occurring over a long period of time, several weeks, months or years.
Climate: The composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.
Climate change: The long-term change in the earth’s climate, especially due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature, considered to be caused mainly by the emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.
Concentration: The amount of one substance dissolved or contained in a given amount of another substance or medium. For example, sea water has a higher concentration of salt than fresh water does.
Cyclone: Intense low pressure weather systems; mid-latitude cyclones are atmospheric circulations that rotate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and are generally associated with stronger winds, unsettled conditions, cloudiness and rainfall. Tropical cyclones (which are called hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere) cause storm surges in coastal areas.
Deforestation: the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land for agriculture, urban use, development, or wasteland.
Desert: An area that receives an average annual precipitation of less than 250 mm, or an area in which more water is lost than falls as precipitation.
Desertification: The degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various climatic variations, but primarily from human activities.
Drought: An acute water shortage relative to availability, supply and demand in a particular region. An extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply
Ecosystem: Whole complex of relationships between species among themselves and with the inert medium in which they operate. The ecosystem includes the biota and habitat.
Ecological Footprint: A measure of the area of biologically productive land and water needed to produce the resources and absorb the wastes of a given population (e.g. a country, a region or the whole world).
Ecology: The scientific study of living organisms and their relationships to one another and their environment; the scientific study of the processes regulating the distribution and abundance of organisms; the study of the design of ecosystem structure and function.
Energy efficiency: Using less energy to provide the same level of energy service.
El Niño: A warm water current which periodically flows southwards along the coast of Ecuador and Peru in South America, replacing the usually cold northwards flowing current; occurs once every five to seven years, usually during the Christmas season; the opposite phase is called a La Niña.
Emissions: Substances such as gases or particles discharged into the atmosphere as a result of natural processes of human activities, including those from chimneys, elevated point sources, and tailpipes of motor vehicles.
Erosion: Displacement of solids (sediment, soil, rock and other particles) usually by the agents of currents such as, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement in response to gravity or by living organisms.
Epidemic: A widespread outbreak of an infectious disease in which many people are infected at the same time.
Externality: A cost or benefit that is not borne by the producer or supplier of a good or service. In many environmental situations environmental deterioration may be caused by a few while the cost is borne by the community; examples would include overfishing, pollution (e.g. production of greenhouse emissions that are not compensated for in any way by taxes etc.), the environmental cost of land-clearing etc.
Food security: global food security refers to food produced in sufficient quantity to meet the full requirements of all People
Forest: Land with a canopy cover greater than 30%.
Fossil fuel: Any hydrocarbon deposit that can be burned for heat or power, such as coal, oil and natural gas (produces carbon dioxide when burnt); fuels formed from once-living organisms that have become fossilized over geological time.
Freshwater: Water containing no significant amounts of salt.
Groundwater: Water located beneath the ground.
Geothermal energy: Energy derived from the natural heat of the earth contained in hot rocks, hot water, hot brine or steam.
Greenhouse effect: The insulating effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) that keeps the Earth’s temperature warmer than it would be otherwise.
Greenhouse gas: Any gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect
Hydrocarbons: Chemicals made up of carbon and hydrogen that are found in raw materials such as petroleum, coal and natural gas, and derived products such as plastics.
Hydroelectric power: The electrical power generated using the power of falling water.
Hydrological cycle (water cycle): The natural cycle of water from evaporation, transpiration in the atmosphere, condensation (rain and snow), and flows back to the ocean (e.g. rivers).
Industrial agriculture: A form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops.
Intercropping: the agricultural practice of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): the IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme to provide the scientific and technical foundation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), primarily through the publication of periodic assessment reports.
Irrigation: Watering of plants, no matter what system is used.
Kyoto Protocol: an international agreement adopted in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The Protocol sets binding emission targets for developed countries that would reduce their emissions on average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.
Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF): Land uses and land-use changes can act either as sinks or as emission sources. LULUCF is terminology used in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change whose Kyoto Protocol allows parties to receive emissions credit for certain LULUCF activities that reduce net emissions.
Mitigation: Activities undertaken as well as individual and collective behavioural changes aiming to limit human contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Monoculture: The practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area.
Natural resources: Natural substances that are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified (natural) form.
Non-Government Organization (NGO): A not-for-profit or community based organization.
Ocean acidification: Reduction in pH of ocean water that is caused by its uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Organic agriculture: A farming system that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil and water, and optimizes the health and productivity of interdependent communities of plants, animals and people.
Pathogen: any disease-producing agent (especially a virus or bacterium or other microorganism)
pH: A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, (where 7 is neutral and greater than 7 is more alkaline and less than 7 is more acidic).
Polluter pays principle: The principle that producers of pollution should in some way compensate others for the effects of their pollution.
Precipitation: Any liquid or solid water particles that fall from the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface; includes drizzle, rain, snow, snow pellets, ice crystals, ice pellets and hail.
Reforestation: The direct human conversion of non-forested land to forested land through planting, seeding or promotion of natural seed sources, on land that was once forested but no longer so.
Renewable energy: Any source of energy that can be used without depleting its reserves. These sources include sunlight (solar energy) and other sources such as, wind, wave, biomass, geothermal and hydro energy.
Sequestration: The removal of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere and storage in a sink as when trees absorb CO2 in photosynthesis and store it in their tissues.
Sinks: Processes or places that remove or store gases, solutes or solids – for example, forests are carbon sinks that result in the net removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Stakeholders: Parties having an interest in a particular project or outcome.
Sustainable development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Temperate: With moderate temperatures, weather, or climate; neither hot nor cold; mean annual temperature between 0–20 degrees C.
Tropical: Occurring in the tropics (the region on either side of the equator); hot and humid with a mean annual temperature greater than 20 degrees C.
United Nations Environment Programme: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices everywhere.
Volatile: Evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures. The air concentration of a highly volatile chemical can increase quickly in a closed room.
Water table: Upper level of water in saturated ground.
Watershed: A water catchment area.
Weather: The hourly or daily change in atmospheric conditions which over a longer period constitute the climate of a region (see climate).
Wetlands: Areas of permanent or intermittent inundation, whether natural or artificial, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water not exceeding 6 m at low tide.
Wind energy: the energy present in the motion of the wind, which can be converted to mechanical or electrical energy. A traditional mechanical windmill can be used for pumping water or grinding grain. A modern electrical wind turbine converts the force of the wind to electrical energy for consumption on-site and/or export to the electricity grid.
Source: UNESCO’s Climate Change in Africa, A Guidebook for journalists