Monday, April 8, 2013

What Does That Mean? Terms to Learn for Earth Day

What does "Carbon Footprint" mean?

  • The total carbon emissions for a given person, organization, building, operation etc. For example, the carbon footprint of an office would include the carbon emitted by staff when traveling to and from work in their cars.

What is The "Greenhouse Effect"?
  • The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon where the atmosphere acts like the glass of a greenhouse. The Sun heats the atmosphere which contains chemicals called greenhouse gases. These gases absorb some of the sun's heat by trapping the infrared rays emitted by the Earth.

What is The Ozone Layer?

And a closeup:

  • Ozone is the name of a gas that naturally shields the Earth from the sun. The Ozone Layer is the layer of the upper atmosphere, from 10 to 30 miles above the Earth's surface, where most atmospheric ozone collects, absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

And the hole in the left about a third of the way down you see the tip of South America. You are looking at the South Pole; the blue area is the hole; see how it got larger from 1982 to 2011:

What is 'El Nino?"

  • This refers to the warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean area. It occurs at irregular intervals about once every 2 to 7 years.
What does 'Post Consumer' mean? 

  • A product or material which has been recycled or reused after its original purpose has completed. An example would be plastic bottles which have been recycled into new plastic bottles. The label may say “made with 95% post-consumer waste”.

What's a VOC?

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
    A toxic chemical contained within and then released as a gas from materials such as paint, glue, sealant, solvent and petroleum products over time. These chemicals are found in most items of furniture and surface finishes. Another source is new carpeting. These vapors have a negative affect on the environment and human health-have you ever been in a house with new carpet, or felt dizzy from a strong paint or lacquer odor, or later had breathing issues? Even hair spray can make you cough and make your eyes sore.

  • What is Climate Change?
  • A recorded and prominent change in the earth’s temperature over a long period of time, which changes local weather conditions. It is linked to global warming and things that we humans do, such as manufacturing and transportation.  

How does the term "Sanitary Landfill" make sense?
  • This refers to a method of controlled disposal of refuse on land. The method was introduced in England in 1912 (where it is called controlled tipping) and involves natural fermentation brought about by microorganisms. Usually the garbage is deposited in shallow layers, compacted, and covered within 24 hours with earth or other neutral material to form an effective seal. Mechanical equipment such as a bulldozer is used to grade, compact, and cover the refuse. The method often is employed to reclaim otherwise useless land, i.e., to fill sloping land to levels convenient for buildings, parking lots, city parks or other public purposes.

What is light pollution?

  • It doesn't mean there's a small amount of pollution. It refers to the fact that we have so much man-made light that it interferes with astronomers trying to look at the night sky. Check out this site for a look at light pollution:

What is "The Big Bang Theory"?

First answer, it's a great show that airs Thursday nights on CBS.
  • Scientifically: This is science's best explanation of how the universe was created. It says that the universe was created when a tiny super-dense, super-hot mass exploded and began expanding very rapidly, eventually cooling and forming into the stars and galaxies we know now. This supposedly happened about 15 billion years ago. Facts of the day: The Earth is a planet, the Sun is a star. Our galaxy is referred to as "The Milky Way." The word 'galaxy' is derived from the Greek term 'galakitos' which means white or milky, the appearance of a galaxy from far away.
Here's a picture of the Milky Way and where our Earth is. And by the way, the center is called Sagittarius A, and is actually a black hole. (the center of the galaxy is not our sun. Our sun is relatively close to Earth in this picture).Read more about Sagittarius A at:"

Now you have some new terms you can dazzle your friends with!


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