Vocabulary of global warming

Basic concepts

  1. abate – to counter an increase, reduce -- to become less intense or widespread
  2. abrupt climate change – a forced transition in the prevailing climate patterns so sudden that it occurs in a human lifetime. More
  3. adaptation – technically the class of responses to global warming that require changes in human settlement patterns or social and economic practices.
  4. albedo – the reflectivity of any surface. White sand beaches for example --like snow or ice-- have high reflective capacity so sunlight is reflected into the air, while black sand beaches (volcanic) or dark dust will absorb more radiant energy from the sun. Thus, darker surfaces have a low albedo.
  5. biodiversity – an index or measure of variety in natural areas; a complex set of descriptions of life's variety in places
  6. carbon cycle – one of several necessary geological and biological movements of compounds where in elements --called biogeochemical cycles- are moved from rocks, into the soil, then to the water and then into the air and back again into rock or into soil by the physical, chemical and living processes of any terrain.
  7. climate – the average weather patterns typical of a particular place on earth based in part on temperature and rainfall patterns over a long period of time, such as centuries; but ranges from decades to millions of years.
  8. Climate change – any long-term change in the pattern of statistics that characterize weather, temperature and precipitation over the course of a period where one set of conditions is replaced by another: glacial or ice age conditions, for example, are replaced by an interglacial warming period.
  9. Climate chaos – the term used in Great Britain and other countries to express the abrupt, unpredictable and unprecedented changes in weather patterns over vast regions and affecting many different biological associations.
  10. feedback – a specific pattern of relations describing the responses between an initial condition and a subsequent set of events.
  11. forcing – any influence that changes the motion of a body, mass, or measurable entity which stresses the existing condition such that an acceleration in magnitude can be detected in the material.
  12. greenhouse – literally a glass or transparently enclosed place where sunlight enters and heat is retained. Figuratively the term was applied to the combined influence of the earth's transparent atmosphere wherein the existence of certain vaporous gases raises the planet's surface temperatures above freezing fro most of the planet.
  13. Greenhouse gases see also. The planet's atmosphere contains water vapor, nitrogen oxides, methane and chloroflourocarbons in addition to Carbon dioxide that trap radiation and remit heat.
  14. Global warming
  15. heat – the common, or lay person's term for thermal, microwave, or long-wave radiation that causes atoms to oscillate and thus convey an increased movement measurable as a change in temperature.
  16. mitigation – specific actions taken to make-up for or compensate for some previous action with the intent of ameliorating (making less, or minimizing) the effects of the initial impacts. To plant trees after one has chopped down a forest.
  17. optimum, law of – in ecology the notion that there is a range within which functional patterns continue to operate; but that below which, or above which discernible changes in the performance of the existing patterns occur and are measurable.
  18. radiation – the frequency and period of electromagnetic disturbances caused by the decay of atomic nuclei; the visible band of which is called light, sunlight, or reflected moonlight.
  19. threshold – a turning point representing some discernible change in the behavior of things, course of action, or set of variable conditions after which a return to the preexisting situation is unlikely, if not impossible.
  20. weather – atmospheric conditions over the course of a day (diurnal), weekly, lunar cycle, season, or period where measures of temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed, dew point, precipitation, or solar radiation can be determined and found to change from one period to the next.
  21. yield, sustained – the amount of a natural product, such as a fishery, forest timber or crop that can be used on a perpetual basis without a loss of the reproductive capacity of the living material in question.
  22. zenith – the Arabic word for the highest or top most point reached by celestial bodies as they apparently traverse the sky due to the Earth's rotation on its axis. Referring originally to the ninety degree angle of declination of the sun above the horizon commonly called noon, pr solar noon when the sun is at its highest point in the sky for that day.

Concatenated conceptual terms

Global warming is an inconvenient realization that "we are the enemy" of our own best, self interest. So very few of us can envision, grasp or explain the links among physics and chemistry, to biology and culture, or to social behavior and public health.

  1. physics and chemistry: temperature variation, thermal expansion, and carbon cycles at variable rates.
  2. biology and culture: plants, animals, fungus and bacteria all respond to and are influence by human customs and traditional ways of making a living.
  3. social behavior and public health: pathogens can and do thrive in response to or in spite of humans taking precautions or reacting to the spread of dirt and disease.



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