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Ecological Buzzwords

- a term that expresses the ratio of light from the sun that is reflected by the Earth's surface to that absorbed by the Earth's surface.  Forests have low albedo; snow-covered areas have a high albedo.

BASKET OF GASES- the six most harmful greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride - first grouped into a basket by the Kyoto Protocol. 

BERLIN MANDATE- the source of all hard-balling in the world of climate-change negotiations. Originally drawn from a meeting in Berlin in the mid-1990's when it suddenly occurred to everyone that maybe, just maybe, fixing up the cans of mortein and getting people to have a seperate bin for unopened credit card bills wasn't going to be enough to solve the global warming bogey.  http://unfccc.int/2860.php

BIODIVERSITY-a term used to describe the variety of life on Earth and a key indicator of the planet's biological health. If the world's biodiversity is equal to say, the population of Sydney, if things keep going the way they are, it will eventually be cut to the point where the world will end up looking more like Yass.

BUBBLE- an option first annouced in the Kyoto Protocol, that allows countries to continue to meet emissions-reduction targets jointly by pooling their aggregate emissions. 

CARBON OFFSETS- a system whereby individual emitters give money to organisations to offset their carbon emissions over a given period.  The organisations then go and spend the money on environmentally progressive products and initiatives such as energy saving light bulbs or trees.

CARBON SEQUESTRATION- the long term storage of carbon dioxide in forests, soils and oceans or underground in depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

CARBON SINKS- the vessels into which carbon may be sequestered.

CARBON TAX- a tax on burning of fossil fuels and one of many emissions taxes proposed by different governments over the past few years.

ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT- the toal of an individual's use of energy, food, water and other consumables, expressed in global hectares.  Ecological footprints are usually used in the developed world to alert people to the unsustainability of their lifestyle.

EMISSIONS TRADING- a practice by which emitters (countries, corporations, individuals) can buy emissions from, or sell emissions to, other emitters.

GEOENGINEERING- the idea that we can engineer the environment to counteract the effects of global warming.

GLOBAL WARMING POTENTIAL- the University Admissions Index of greenhouse gases; used to compare warming effects of different gases.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE- a multinational body of experts set up by the UN in 1988 to be the ultimate authority on climate change.  The panel's main task is to produce reports assessing the impact of humans on climate change. http://www.ipcc.ch

KYOTO PROTOCOL- the 1997 agreement that set the latest wave of international climate-change reform in motion. http://unfccc.int/2860.php

METHANE TO MARKETS- an initiative that promotes captured methane as a clean energy source.

RENWABLE ENERGY- biofuel, solar energy, hydo-power and wind farms are all forms of renewable energy.