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Andes - Major mountain range in South America, which passes through seven countries

Acidification - Process by which soil or water becomes acidic

Afforestation - Planting trees and plants

AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: often fatal. Infection is spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion or sharing of hypodermic needles. There is no known cure

Alien - Something which is foreign

Amphibian - Living both on land and in water

Antarctic - A continent in the south polar region

Aquifer - Layer of rock or soil under the ground that holds water – like a big underground sponge

Arctic - (Of) the north polar regions

Asthma - Illness which makes breathing difficult

Atmosphere - Layers of air, composed of gases and particles, surrounding the Earth

Ballast - Weights placed in the hulls of ships to make them more stable

Bilharzia - Tropical water-borne parasite (flatworm) that can enter the human pelvis through the skin and cause severe stomach pain, vomiting and sometimes death

Billion - A thousand million

Birth control - Methods of preventing pregnancy

Biodiversity - The variety of plants and animals that exist in nature

Bronchitis - A disease which affects lungs and breathing

Cadmium - A chemical element and a soft, silvery white metal. Causes severe illness and even death if inhaled. Used in plating and in making alloys.

Carbon dioxide - Gas formed by burning of carbon and by breathing

Chernobyl - Nuclear Power plant near Kiev, Ukraine, which released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere due to an explosion and fire in the reactor in 1986

Cholera - Infectious, often fatal, disease of the digestive system, acquired by drinking contaminated water

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of flora and fauna

Clone - A genetically identical copy

Compliance - To act to ensure that the terms of laws are met

Conservation - Preserving the environment

Consumption - Purchase and use of goods

Convention - An agreement between states

Crops - Food plants grown for human use

Crop yield - The amount of crops produced in a growing cycle

Crustaceans - Aquatic animals with hard shells like crab, lobster and shrimp

Deforestation - Clearing forests of trees

Degradation - When things are worn away, reduced, damaged

Desertification - Where land starts to turn into desert

Developed countries - Rich countries, sometimes referred to as “the north”

Developing world - Poor countries, sometimes referred to as “the south”

Dysentery - Infection of the large intestine

Earth Summit - A world summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 on environment and development

El Niño - A naturally occurring ocean condition resulting in major changes in weather and biological productivity

Edible landscaping - Planting trees/shrubs that produce fruits and vegetables which can be eaten by the public

Environment - Everything around us, plants, air, land, life etc.

Epidemic - A disease which attacks many people at about the same time

Eutrophication - The addition of nutrients to waters caused by rain water washing off excess fertiliser from agricultural land and human waste from settlements. Water plants flourish on these nutrients and oxygen in the water is depleted

Exotic species - Animals or plants introduced to new environments different from where they originated; may be dangerous to native species

Exxon Valdez - An oil tanker which went aground causing huge environmental destruction in Alaska in 1992

Famine - Extreme lack of food

Fatality - Death

Fertility - Capable of producing new life = fertile

Fertiliser - Substance which provides plant nutrients when added to soil

Food Security - Knowing that you have enough food

Furnacite - Processed coal for use in domestic fires

GEO Report - Global Environment Outlook

Gene - Part of a cell that all living things inherit from their parents that determines their characteristics

Genetic engineering - A scientific technique which alters the genes of an organism. Used in medicine, industry and agriculture

Genetically modified - Something which has been altered through genetic engineering

Generic - Belonging to a large group rather than a specific person; describing something in general, rather than a specific, way

Greenpeace - An international NGO which campaigns on environmental issues

Habitat - Natural home of plant or animal
Heavy metals - Metals of high density which are often toxic to human health

Hectare - 100 metres x 100 metres

Herbal remedies - Using herbs and plants to cure illnesses

Hypodermic - Introducing medical remedies or drugs under the skin

Hookworm - A small worm that enters the human body through the skin and then lives in the intestines.

Implementation - To put something into action

Inca - The people who lived in Peru before the Spanish conquest

Indigenous - People who are the original inhabitants of an area

Institution - A society, organisation or establishment which carries out governmental, scientific or educational work

Intensive modern farming - Growing in the smallest area and producing maximum yields using modern farming methods

Internet - Global computer information network

Inuit - A people who originally lived in the Arctic

Krill - Tiny shrimplike creatures eaten by whales

Land reclamation - Previously unusable land, sea or lake bed developed for agriculture etc

Lead - A heavy metal used for thousands of years for pipes, roofs, gutters etc.

Malaria - A dangerous disease transmitted by the bite of a certain type of mosquito

Manatee - A large aquatic plant-eating mammal with a large rounded body, short head and square muzzle

Manicole - Large rat that lives in coconut palms

Maritime Canada - The eastern provinces of Canada

Meningitis - A serious disease that affects the brain and spinal cord

Mercury - A very toxic heavy metal unique because it is liquid at room temperature

Microbe - A very small organism eg algae, bacteria

Municipal - (Of) local government

Multilateral - In which three or more parties take part

Natural food products - Food which includes no artificial additives.

NGO - Non-governmental organisation

Ozone - A form of oxygen with three atoms in a molecule; found as a layer in the upper atmosphere, and close to the ground

Pesticide - Substance for destroying insects or other pests

Plankton - Microscopic life-forms found in oceans

POPs - Persistent Organic Pollutants – chemicals that pollute the environment and are especially harmful as they stay around for a long time

Poverty - Living on less than one US dollar per day.

Protocol - An amendment or addition to a treaty or convention

Sanitation - Pipes and treatment plants that drain sewage and refuse from houses

Salinity - (Amount of) salt in water or soil

Sewage - Liquid waste and human faeces

Shanty town - Unplanned urban slum village where very poor people live. Usually found on the edge of big cities

Skin cancer - Cancer of the skin caused by over-exposure to sunlight

Smokestack industry - An old-type industry identified by tall smoking chimneys

Social indicators - Indicators of the well-being, educational status etc. of a society

Soil erosion - The process of wearing away soil by wind, rain, over-cultivation etc.

Solar energy - Energy from the sun

Solid waste - Anything that doesn’t easily decompose (glass, plastic etc.)

Species - A certain type of plant or animal

Squalor - State of extreme poverty

Stock market The system of buying and selling stocks and shares in public companies

Subsidies - Money given by governments to keep down prices of vital goods and services

Sustainable development - Meeting the needs of today while ensuring that the future generation can meet their needs

Temperate forest - Forests situated between the tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle in the Northern Hemisphere or between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle in the Southern Hemisphere. A climate which is warm in the summer, cold in the winter, and moderate in the spring and fall

Traditional farming - Way of farming that has been going on for generations

Tropical - Something inside the tropics

Tropics - Regions between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, latitudes 30° North and South of the equator

Tuberculosis - Infectious disease of the lungs

Typhoid (fever) - Infectious fever causing rash and severe stomach problems & often death

UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme

Urbanisation - The building and growth of towns in rural areas

UV rays - Ultraviolet rays: an invisible form of energy harmful to most living organisms

Vegetation - Plant life

Water table - The level of water in the Earth

WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature
web site editor: webmaster@grida.no Last update: March 2000