More Terms to Help You Talk “In the Know” Every Day About the Climate Crisis III

Photo courtesy BBC-TV

Against the backdrop of “climate stripes” that will be featured on the cover of “The Climate Book” that Greta Thunberg is overseeing, out in late October 2022, the climate champion and ethical vegan addressed thousands gathered at the Glastonbury music festival on Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, UK, on Saturday 25 June 2022.

Compiled by Alfred Robert Hogan

As Fridays For Future co-founder Greta Thunberg told her audience of thousands at the Glastonbury music festival’s main Pyramid Stage in southwest England, on Saturday 25 June 2022, we need to be talking about the No. 1 climate crisis—“the biggest story in the world”—in every possible place we can, every day. As she posed the challenge, “It must be spoken [of] as far and as wide as our voices can carry, and even further still. It must be told in articles, newspapers, in movies and songs. At breakfast tables, lunch meetings, and family gatherings. In lifts, at bus stops, and in rural shops. In schools, board rooms, and marketplaces. In the fields, in the warehouses, and on factory floors. At union meetings, political workshops, and football games. In kindergartens and in old people’s homes. At hospitals and at music festivals like Glastonbury. On social media and on the evening news. On dusty country roads and in the allies of our towns and cities…”

So, in that spirit, here is a third set of Climate Vocabulary terms—20 this time—to add to or refresh your understanding, so you too can communicate the crisis effectively each day, wherever you may happen to be. These definitions were selected and adapted from various online sources.

Afforestation, Reforestation, and Deforestation – Afforestation refers to planting new trees on lands that historically have not been forested. Reforestation refers to planting trees where they have been recently clear-cut or otherwise removed. Deforestation involves clear-cutting trees en masse, converting forested lands to non-forest uses, often for animal agriculture, and sometimes for mining or occasionally for housing and development. Deforestation, the clear-cutting and removal of trees en masse, contributes to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations for two reasons: 1) the burning or decomposition of the wood releases carbon dioxide; and 2) trees that once removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis are gone. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of recent Brazilian Amazon rainforest “clear-cutting,” for example, has been done either to create grazing land for “cattle” (mostly for export to become hamburgers and such) or to create feedgrain cropland for use in animal agriculture.

Anthropogenic -- Made by humans or resulting from human activities, usually used in the context of emissions and of “anthropogenic global warming.

Biosphere – Earth’s ecosystems and living organisms, in the atmosphere, on land (terrestrial biosphere), or in the oceans (marine biosphere), including dead organic matter, such as litter, soil organic matter, and oceanic detritus.

Carnism – Term coined by US psychologist and animal rights advocate Melanie Joy, PhD, in 2001, in an article in the journal Satya, and detailed and popularized in her 2009 book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. Central to carnism is the acceptance of meat-eating as "natural,” "normal," "necessary," and even "nice," dubbed the "Four Ns." A key feature of carnism is arbitrarily classifying some animal species as food, and accepting practices toward those animals that would be rejected as unacceptable cruelty, if applied to other species. Carnism is also utterly incompatible with fully dealing with the climate crisis.

Climate emergency – An official, formal recognitiont by local, regional, or national governments of the dire situation we face—2248 jurisdictions in 39 countries had done so as of Sunday 17 July 2022 (including 23 countries and the EU). On Monday 5 December 2016, in the suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, in southeastern Australia, the Darebin City Council became the world’s first jurisdiction to pass a climate emergency declaration. Such declarations act as “markers.” giving some added leverage to activists who can then better expose the hypocrisy and lies of “greenwashing” politicians, ideally electing those who will actually act.

Clean Energy/Renewable Energy/Green Energy – Sources of energy that tap natural factors and forces to generate electricity; unlike fossil fuels, they do not produce carbon pollution or any other heat-trapping greenhouse gases; in addition to energy efficiency, major types include:

· Solar: Active solar, such as photovoltaic panels (often placed on building rooftops) and other technology convert radiation from the Sun into electricity, and passive solar, such as southward orientation of Northern Hemisphere houses, help too. Every day, the Sun shines down about 120,000 terawatts of energy onto Earth – about 10,000 times what humanity now uses. Even with limited or no government subsidies, clean energy costs plummet each year—becoming about as cheap and often cheaper—than fossil fuel energy around the world, as of 2020. Renewables are also huge job creators. Already, renewables employ more than 10.3 million people worldwide. Those numbers are expected to keep growing, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that photovoltaic solar installers will be the fastest growing profession in the USA between now and 2026

· Wind: Onshore or offshore, wind turbines and windmills harness the wind to generate electricity. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the second-fastest=growing US profession between now and 2026 will be wind turbine technicians.

  • Geothermal: Draws on the heat energy of hot rocks deep below the Earth’s surface to create steam and generate electricity.

  • Tidal/Wave: Converts the movement of water driven by powerful tides (generated mostly by Earth’s Moon) and waves into electricity.

  • Hydro: Mainly uses the motion of water descending through dams to create electricity. However, Big Hydro—such as the infamous Three Gorges Dam in China—has displaced millions of people and inundated natural habitats and archaeological sites, and should not be further expanded (and eventually should ideally be phased out).

Coalbed Methane – Coalbed methane is contained in coal seams, and often called either virgin coalbed methane or coal seam gas, and is released by coal mining. The US EPA has had a voluntary program since 1994 in cooperation with the coal industry to “harvest” this methane, the main ingredient in “natural” gas.

Coral Bleaching -- The process whereby a coral colony, under environmental stress, expels the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) that live in symbiosis with their host organisms (polyps). The affected coral colony appears whitened. If the global temperature rise average exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius (since the 1750 start of the Industrial Revolution), at least 70 percent of the world’s coral reefs could die, and with a 2 degrees Celsius increase, an estimated 99 percent could die. The best-known example is the 2900-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea, off northeastern Australia (Queensland).

Cryosphere – This means snow, permanently frozen ground (permafrost), floating ice, and glaciers. Fluctuations in the volume of the cryosphere change sea levels, which directly affect the atmosphere and biosphere.

Ethical vegan -- Someone who does not eat, drink, wear, or as much as possible otherwise use animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, suede, etc.), first and foremost for ethical reasons—as in the case of Fridays For Future co-founder Greta Thunberg. Usually this is because the person truly values animals rights, though they also well understand and fully support the additional environment/climate, human health, world hunger, and world peace reasons to be vegan.

Factory farming -- This “efficient” method describes industrial-scale-production “livestock” animal farms, often called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). These feature huge windowless sheds crowded with thousands of animals, often kept in tiny cages (hens) or farrowing crates (pigs) and abused in myriad ways, and massive outdoor feedlots. Vegans generally oppose all animal farming, but factory farming is the most abominable kind.

Glacier -- A multi-year accumulation of snowfall in excess of snowmelt on land, resulting in a mass of ice at least 0.1 km2 in area, and showing evidence of movement in response to gravity. Glaciers are sometimes called slow-moving “rivers of ice.” A glacier may terminate on land or “calve” into water. Glacial ice is Earth’s largest reservoir of fresh water, and second only to the world ocean as the largest reservoir of total water. Glaciers are found on every continent except Australia—and they are melting fast.

Greenhouse Gases (GHG) -- Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and water vapor (H2O).

Greenwashing – Phony and shallow expressions of environmental concern by politicians and corporate officials, especially as a cover or diversion for decidedly un-green products, policies, or activities. The term was coined by environmental activist Jay Westerveld in 1989. Fridays For Future co-founder Greta Thunberg has often bluntly called out greenwashing.

Heat Waves – Prolonged periods of excessive and even dangerous heat, often combined with excessive humidity, often combined with severe drought and sometimes accompanied by wildfires, phenomena these days fueled by the climate crisis—and in 2022, which set historic-era record highs across much of Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America.

Industrial Revolution -- An ongoing period of rapid industrial growth, causing far-reaching social and economic consequences, beginning in England in 1750, spreading to Western Europe, and later to the United States, and other lands. The Industrial Revolution marked the beginning of a major increase in using fossil fuels (coal, oil, and “natural” gas) and in their emissions of major amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – In 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization jointly established the IPCC. Its purpose is to synthesize the world’s latest scientific and technical literature on all significant components of the climate change crisis. The IPCC taps the expertise of hundreds of the world's scientists as authors and thousands more as expert reviewers. Leading experts on climate change and environmental, social, and economic sciences from some 60 nations have helped the IPCC to prepare periodic assessments of the science underlying global climate change and its consequences. The IPCC co-won (with former US Vice President Al Gore) the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Ocean Acidification -- Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in sea water increase the acidity (i.e., reducing ocean pH). This may lower calcification rates of organisms such as corals, mollusks, algae, and crustaceans, making them less hardy.

Permafrost – A thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year, occurring chiefly in polar regions, which continuously remains below 0 degrees Celsius for two or more years. It can be found on land or under the ocean, but does not need to be the top layer on the ground. It can extend from 2 centimeters to several kilometers deep. About 15 percent of the Northern Hemisphere land surface, or 11 percent of the globe’s land surface, is underlain by permafrost, including much of Alaska, Greenland, Canada, and Siberia. It can occurs on Southern Hemisphere mountaintops and beneath ice-free areas in the Antarctic. When permafrost thaws, that can release frozen preserved ancient micro-pathogens, which could potentially infect humans on a pandemic scale.

Veganic. Vegan and organic farming combined, as most organic farming still involves animal products (especially using animal waste as fertilizer). This local-emphasis approach also does not use chemical pesticides. Vegans consider veganic farming the near-future of ethical, sustainable, climate-friendly agriculture.


Additional resources:

“So You Want to Learn About the Climate Crisis: A Quick Guide to the Basics,” Climate Reality Project, Free e-book, posted on Wednesday 30 January 2019

Coalbed Methane Outreach Program, US Environmental Protection Agency, no date

“Glossary of Climate Change Terms,” US Environmental Protection Agency, Thursday 19 January 2017 (snapshot as of day before Donald J. Trump inaugurated as 45th POTUS)

Climate Emergency Declarations, July 2022

Dan Farber, Legal Planet, “Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide/

Would it be legal to declare a national emergency for climate change? Would it be useful? Here’s what you need to know.” Wednesday 19 July 2022

“Amazon Rainforest Destruction Driven By Animal Farming/Drone Footage,” Animal Equality UK, Tuesday 15 October 2019,

The Ultimate Glossary of Vegan Terms, Lingo, & Vocabulary, I Am Going Vegan, no date


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