Encyclopedia of Environment and Society

Encyclopedia of Environment and Society


Edited by: Paul Robbins


The Encyclopedia of Environment and Society brings together multiplying issues, concepts, theories, examples, problems, and policies, with the goal of clearly explicating an emerging way of thinking about people and nature. With more than 1,200 entries written by experts from incredibly diverse fields, this innovative resource is a first step toward diving into the deep pool of emerging knowledge. The five volumes of this Encyclopedia represent more than a catalogue of terms. Rather, they capture the spirit of the moment, a fascinating time when global warming and genetic engineering represent only two of the most obvious examples of socio-environmental issues.

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  • Reader's Guide
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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
    • Agriculture
    • Animals
    • Biology and Chemistry
    • Climate
    • Conservation and Ecology
    • Countries
    • Geography
    • History
    • Movements and Regulations
    • Organizations
    • People
    • Politics
    • Pollution
    • Society
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    • Copyright

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      About the General Editor

      Paul Robbins was raised in Denver, Colorado, but has lived in India, New England, the U.S. Midwest, and the deserts of the U.S. Southwest. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from Clark University in 1996 and is currently Professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Arizona. His research centers on the relationships between individuals (homeowners, hunters, professional foresters), environmental actors (lawns, elk, mesquite trees), and the institutions that connect them. Working with interdisciplinary teams in the fields of biology, economics, climatology, and entomology, his projects have examined chemical use in the suburban United States, elk management in Montana, forest product collection in New England, wolf conservation in India, and mosquito borne illness and management of insect hazards in the US Southwest. His expertise includes the fields of conservation policy, grasslands ecology, and institutional ethnography. He is author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (2004) and Lawn People: How Grass Weeds and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (2007) and has served as an editor for the journal Geoforum.

      Advisory Board

      Gregory T. Cushman, Ph.D.

      Assistant Professor of International Environmental History, University of Kansas

      Hunter Crowther-Heyck, Ph.D.

      Assistant Professor, Department of the History of Science, University of Oklahoma

      Marla R. Emery, Ph.D.

      Research Geographer, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station

      Bryan Mark, Ph.D.

      Assistant Professor, Department of Geography; Research Scientist, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University

      Shubhra Gururani, Ph.D.

      Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, York University


      Where Does The environment leave off and society begin? If the major crises and curiosities of the early 21st century are any indication, it would be foolish to attempt to demark any such boundary. When expanding production and consumption drives greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet, which in turn influence the conditions (and limits) of economic expansion, it is unclear where the climate ends and the economy begins. If transgenic species of upland rice are designed for cold tolerance employing genes from Alaskan cold-water fish, where does the “natural” process of evolution stop and the “social” process of agricultural intensification begin? In a certain sense, owing to the intense entanglement of human beings (congressmen, farmers, veterinarians, nurses, SUV drivers, plumbers, attorneys) with nonhumans (turfgrasses, bacteria, factories, atmospheric pressure cells, weeds, elk, trees), the question seems unanswerable at best, or misleading at worst.

      Ironically, this fact is not new to our era, as thousands of years of human interaction with the world around us can attest. It is notable, however, that our social and natural sciences have only recently come to grips with the incredible complexity of the world described by understanding the environment and society as being of a piece. In the last decade, there has been as a result, a perhaps unprecedented explosion of new concepts, theories, facts, and techniques that follow from such an understanding. So too, there have been remarkable efforts to move beyond the “social” and “environmental” sciences in order to pursue research and problem-solving using a new kind of knowledge. This approach to socioenvironmental problems and issues explicitly does not seek to distinguish “social aspects” of environmental problems or “environmental components” of social issues, but instead seeks to explain and cope with the enormous implications of this inevitable complexity.

      The Encyclopedia

      In this sense the 1,200 entries, written for these volumes by experts from an incredible diversity of fields, are a first step toward diving into the deep pool of emerging knowledge. As the volumes intend, it has become increasingly essential to bring these multiplying issues, concepts, theories, examples, problems, and policies together in one place, with the goal of clearly explicating an emerging way of thinking about people and nature.

      To that end, the encyclopedia was designed to include a vast range of different types of entries, including key individuals, polices, problems, processes, and theoretical concepts that sit astride what has traditionally been known as “society” and the “environment.” The wealth of topics here therefore includes what the editors believe captures an integrated vision. This encyclopedia represents more than a catalogue of terms. Rather, it captures the spirit of the moment, a fascinating time when global warming and genetic engineering represent only two of the most obvious examples of socioenvironmental issues. Consider fire ants, air conditioning, oil spills, and aquariums (all represented in entries here) as embodiments, objects, and artifacts of a world co-created and co-inhabited by people and nonhumans.

      If it is a new world of problems and situations, it is also one of new and integrative ideas. As the “environment” becomes a concern for economists, political scientists and anthropologists, “social” forces are increasingly a concern of conservation biologists and geneticists. The result has been a great many new ideas about how the world works, what creates the daunting problems of our time, and how such issues might be addressed, whether by regulation, markets, or new ethics. Many of these ideas, of course, are not mutually harmonious and compatible. As entries in this volume demonstrate, theories of environmental management based on market efficiency may not be easily reconciled with those that focus on population, and both may certainly diverge from those centering on ethics, justice, or labor. Nevertheless, all these emerging voices and ideas are very much of their moment, and are part of a conversation that an environmentally literate citizen or student ignores at their own risk.

      As such, our authors include geographers, political scientists, chemists, anthropologists, medical practitioners, development experts, and sociologists, among many others. We were fortunate, in this regard, to find experts in their fields of specialty, and to be able to draw especially upon researchers with direct fieldwork experience. Many country entries were written by authors with years (or decades) of field experience in these locations, while entries on emerging techniques and technologies were penned by designers and innovators, wherever possible.

      Given that, however, all topics and issues are essentially socio-environmental ones, the process of assembling such a group of entries and authors presented certain hard choices. The choices made here reflect many of the biases of its General Editor, and an imagined and intended audience. Specifically, readers will notice that despite a great many global policy documents and treaties, the preponderance of environmental legislation and legal decisions represented here, from the Winters Doctrine to the Clean Air Act, come from the United States and other Common Law countries. So too, while countries of the world are represented, regions of North America are treated in greater detail. And while the problem of global conservation is discussed at length, most of the key examples of national parks included here are from the United States. This is because the book was firstly intended for North American readers, but also because many of these practices, theories, and laws from the North American context are being extended to (and in many cases arguably foisted upon!) other parts of the world. I would hope that while readers from the United States and Canada would learn a great deal about their own environment and society problems from reading these entries, therefore, the encyclopedia might also be useful for readers in Chile living with the environmental policy effects of University of Chicago economic theory or readers in India importing the “Yellowstone model” of national park management.

      The decision to include entries for individual countries, rather than global eco-regions, was one made again with an audience in mind as well, someone who might want to know the specific conditions in Gambia for example or China. While such a decision does, at some level, reinforce a statecentered view of the world—one that is subverted precisely by environmental problems that do not respect national boundaries—it is our intention to provide a comprehensive picture that approaches, as effectively as possible, a cohesive global vision. We hope that our survey of conditions around the world strikes familiar notes for comparison and contrast, drawing some patterns from the details of regional experience.

      Signals Amidst the Noise

      And to a great degree, despite (and in part because of) the diversity of entries assembled here, it is possible to identify some constant global themes that thread through the encyclopedia. Two of the most prominent are: (1) the emerging socio-environmental problems that we face in the next century, and (2) the shifting and expanding theoretical tools available for explaining tackling these problems.

      The problems that receive a great deal of attention in the encyclopedia differ greatly than those that might have been highlighted a quarter century ago. At that time, not long after the first Earth Day, an encyclopedia on environment and society might have focused more exclusively on regional and local environmental problems and their apparent intractability. At this time, the foul air hanging over American metropolises was emblematic of a fouled world, stubbornly locked into place by human activity; a nature almost irreversibly dominated by society.

      Remarkably, many of these problems, while still serious issues, have actually given way to solutions, however. While many argue about the overall efficiency of the Clean Air Act, for example, it is quite clear it has had a profound positive effect on urban air quality. Deforestation is ongoing around the world, but so is reforestation, and for reasons that remain a matter of debate.

      At the same time, however, issues like global warming and genetic engineering, while envisioned by the more forward-thinking observers of the century prior, could not possibly have afforded the immense amount of attention and number of related entries we see today. Nor could the concept of environmental justice, which is so clearly a part of contemporary urban environmental issues, have been so fully articulated and acknowledged. The problems and issues that we see here are definitely the greatest challenges of our time, therefore but they would have been hard to fully anticipate not very long ago. This cautions us against any selfcongratulatory sense that any accounting of socioenvironmental condition, no matter how comprehensive, can be a document that exists outside of its historical moment.

      Similarly, the volume is brimming full of an extremely diverse and vibrant range of theoretical tools to help explain and cope with our current world, many of which simply were not “on the map” even a few years prior. The debates of 25 years ago involved pitched arguments between self-described environmentalists (“greens”) and those (“browns”) who argued for a protection of economic interests and growth against so-called luddites.

      John McPhee's classic book Encounters with the Archdruid, detailing debates between David Brower's environmentalism and Floyd Dominy's pro-growth dam-building, set the tone for the period. And within each of these camps, it would not be exaggerating much to say theoretical diversity was less well developed than it is today. “Greens” often held to traditional population-based explanations of environmental crises (as many do today of course), while “browns” clung to ideas that environmental protection was in contradiction to human economic interests.

      A quick perusal of the entries in this volume suggests that we live in a very different world. As environmentalists come to understand the relationship between poverty and problems in conservation, new ideas emerge from the mix. From the other side of the argument, green capitalism is offered as a bringing together of ecological and economic incentives. From the mix we see pages filled with insights from deep ecologists, Marxists, feminists, anarchists, bioregionalists, pragmatists, free marketeers, and reconciliation ecologists (among many others) offering entirely new visions of our socio-environmental condition.

      And in a very real sense, we are all environmentalists now, a situation that is ironically both a source of a new consensus and the seed of new, more profoundly divisive debate. This revolution in thinking is by no means restricted to the so-called “social sciences,” moreover. Ecologists as a prominent example, who long clung to mechanical models of equilibrium in environmental systems, have begun to shift towards more biocomplex ways of thinking about environmental conditions and change and the human role in evolution and nature.

      In this sense, we think the encyclopedia is not only current and packed with essential and up-todate information on the state of the global socioenvironment, we also imagine the work to be a time capsule of its historic moment, and a record of where we stand at the start of the 21st century. From an optimistic point of view, we can only hope that the emergence of environmental debates and discourses around the world—provoked by some of the greatest calamities and problems of written memory—provides an opportunity for more new ways for thinking, behaving, and living in a morethan-human world.

      We are cursed to live in interesting times. The editors hope that the Encyclopedia of Environment and Society helps to map out, explain, and challenge our collective thinking at this difficult juncture for our environment.

      PaulRobbins General Editor

      Reader's Guide

      This list is provided to assist readers in finding articles related by category or theme.

      List of Articles

      List of Contributors

      Abbas, Dalia, University of Minnesota

      Abebe, Adane, University of Siegen, Germany

      Adula, Alessandra, Università degli Studi–L'Aquila, Italy

      Ali, Shajaat, Independent Scholar

      Allen, Tom, Independent Scholar

      Alpert, Holly, University of California, Santa Cruz

      Althoff, Ingrid, University of Siegen, Germany

      Anderson, Eugene, University of California, Riverside

      Andrews, Gavin J., McMaster University

      Armitage, Derek, Wilfrid Laurier University

      Artnoff, Ingrid, University of Siegen, Germany

      Arvai, Joseph, Ohio State University

      Atalan, Nurcan, Ohio State University

      Auffhammer, Maximillian, University of California, Berkeley

      Austin, Rebecca, Florida Gulf Coast University

      Awanyo, Louis, University of Regina

      Baigent, Elizabeth, Oxford University

      Bakshi, Bhavik, Ohio State Univserity

      Baldwin, Andrew, University of Maryland

      Baral, Anil, Ohio State University

      Batterbury, Simon, University of Melbourne

      Berry, Lynn, The Open University, U.K.

      Biehler, Dawn Day, University of Wisconsin, Madison

      Birkenholtz, Trevor, Ohio State University

      Birkland, Thomas A., State University of New York, Albany

      Bishop, Elizabeth, New York Public Library

      Bishop, Kristina Monroe, University of Arizona

      Blecha, Jennifer, University of Minnesota

      Blum, Nicole, University of Sussex

      Bohr, Gregory S., Calif. Polytechnic State University

      Bose, Shekar, Austrailian Maritime College

      Boykoff, Max, Oxford University

      Brinkman, Marielle C., Batelle Memorial Institute

      Brook, Mary M., University of Richmond

      Brown, Christopher J., University of Kansas

      Brown, Roger, Western Illinois University

      Brugger, Julie, University of Washington

      Brunsell, Nathaniel, University of Kansas

      Buckley, Mark, University of California, Santa Cruz

      Butler, David R., Texas State University, San Marcos

      Butt, Michael, Halifax Grammar School

      Byrne, Jason, University of Southern California

      Campbell, A., University of London

      Campbell, Lisa, M., Duke University

      Carney, Judith, University of California, Los Angeles

      Carolan, Michael, Colorado State University

      Carr, Edward R., University of South Carolina

      Chaudhury, Moushumi, University of Sussex

      Chester, Charles, Tufts University

      Chowdhury, Rinku Roy, University of Miami

      Clausen, Rebecca, University of Oregon

      Coelho, Alfredo Manuel, UMR MOISA Agro, Montpellier

      Coffman, Jennifer E., James Madison University

      Compas, Eric, Flinders University, South Australia

      Corfield, Justin, Independent Scholar

      Correia, David, University of Kentucky

      Crate, Susan A., George Mason University

      Crews-Meyer, Kelley A., University of Texas

      Crooker, Richard A., Kutztown University

      Curtis, Peter S., Ohio State Univserity

      Das, Priyam, University of California, Los Angeles

      Davidson, Fiona, University of Arkansas

      D'Avignon, Robyn Whitney, Washington University, St. Louis

      Del Casino, Vincent J., Jr., California State University, Long Beach

      DeLang, Claudia O., Kyoto University, Japan

      DeNicola, Lane, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

      Diecchio, Rick, George Mason University

      Doolittle, Amity A., Yale University

      Dorn, Ronald I., Arizona State University

      Duram, Leslie, Southern Illinois University

      Durant, Jeffrey, Independent Scholar

      Dutt, Ashok, University of Akron

      Dutta, Hiran, Kent State University

      Ebbin, Syma Alexi, Yale University

      Edwards, Richard M., University of Wisconsin

      Ejderyan, Olivier, University of Zurich, Switzerland

      Erlien, Christine M., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

      Farr, Daniel, College of St. Rose

      Fay, Derick, University of California, Berkeley

      Finley, Laura L., Florida Atlantic University

      Finnegan, Eleanor, University of Florida

      Foerch, Gerd, University of Siegen, Germany

      Foerch, Wiebke, University of Arizona

      Fornander, David, University of Arizona

      Fromherz, Allen J., University of St. Andrews

      Garmany, Jeff, University of Arizona

      Garrick, Dustin, University of Arizona

      Gautam, Ambika P., Asian Institute of Technology

      Gerlak, Andrea, University of Arizona

      Ghosh, Debarchana, University of Minnesota

      Gladwin, Rahul, University of Health Sciences, Antigua

      Goodman, Michael K., King's College, England

      Gribb, William J., University of Wyoming

      Griffith, Alden, University of California, Santa Cruz

      Grossman, Richard, University of Colorado

      Grover, Vaneeta Kaur, Independent Scholar

      Grover, Velma I., Independent Scholar

      Grubb, Geoffrey, Ohio State University

      Hamm, Gisele F., Western Illinois University

      Harris, Leila M., University of Wisconsin, Madison

      Hartmann, Ingrid, Independent Scholar

      Hay, Iain, Flinders University, South Australia

      Hellerman, Pauline von, University of Sussex

      Henne, Adam, University of Georgia

      Heynen, Nik, Independent Scholar

      Himley, Matthew, Syracuse University

      Hintz, John, Bloomsburg University

      Hoeschele, Wolfgang, Truman State University

      Holifield, Ryan, University of Minnesota

      Holst, Arthur, Widener University

      Horowitz, Leah S., University of Leeds

      Howard, Jeff, University of Texas, Arlington

      Hossain Monir, Moni, Waseda University, Japan

      Houghton, Jennifer, University of KwaZulu, Natal

      Hume, Douglas, University of Connecticut

      Hurley, Patrick T., College of Charleston

      Husseini, Abdullatif, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University

      Jackson, Wendy, Independent Scholar

      Jepson, Wendy, Texas A&M University

      Jindrich, Jason, University of Minnesota

      Johnston, Lucas F., University of Florida

      Jokisch, Brad, Ohio University

      Jonna, Ryan J., University of Oregon

      Kahn, Richard, University of California, Los Angeles

      Kalipeni, Ezekiel, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

      Kannada, S., Arkansas State University

      Kariyeva, Jahan, University of Arizona

      Keese, James R., California Polytechnic State University

      Keys, Eric, University of Florida

      Khanna, Vikas, Ohio State University

      Kich, Martin, Wright State University, Lake Campus

      King, Brian, University of Texas, Austin

      Kirkham, W. Stuart, University of Maryland

      Kirsch, Scott, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

      Klepek, James, University of Arizona

      Klooster, Dan, Florida State University

      Knapp, Gregory, University of Texas, Austin

      Krohn, Raymond, Purdue University

      Krueger, Robert James, Independent Scholar

      Kull, Christian A., Monash University, Australia

      Laberge, Yves, Institut québécois des hautes études internationales

      Laney, Rheyna, Sonoma State University

      Lange, Mark D., Independent Scholar

      Linehan, Denis, University College Cork

      Litrico, Mary Elizabeth, University of Florida

      Loi, Nguyen Van, Flinders University, South Australia

      Lominé, Loykie L., Independent Scholar

      Low, Nick, Independent Scholar

      Lowe, Marie, University of Alaska, Anchorage

      Luzar, Jeff, Simon Fraser University

      Malanson, George P., University of Iowa

      Mann, Geoff, Simon Fraser University

      Mannion, A.M., University of Reading, England

      Mansvelt, Juliana, Massey University, New Zealand

      Markantonatou, Maria, Independent Scholar

      Marks, Brian, University of Arizona

      Mason, Michael, London School of Economics

      Maxwell, Keely, Franklin and Marshall College

      McAfee, Kathleen, San Francisco State University

      McChesney, Ron, Ohio Wesleyan University

      McGregor, Kent, University of North Texas

      McManus, Phil, University of Sydney, Australia

      McSweeney, Kendra, Ohio State University

      Meehan, Katharine, University of Arizona

      Merrett, Christopher, Western Illinois University

      Miller, DeMond Shondell, Rowan University

      Minor, Jesse, University of Arizona

      Mitchell, Ross E., Alberta Research Council

      Moore, Sarah, University of Arizona

      Morley, Ian, Chinese University of Hong Kong

      Moseley, William G., Macalester College

      Muehlenhaus, Birgit, Macalester College

      Muehlenhaus, Ian Alexander, University of Minnesota

      Mulvaney, Dustin, University of California, Santa Cruz

      Murguía, Diego I., Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

      Mustafa, Daanish, King's College, London

      Mutersbaugh, Tad, University of Kentucky

      Myers, Ethan, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

      Nash, Alan, Concordia University, France

      Natadecha-Sponsel, Poranee, Chaminade University of Honolulu

      Nawrocka, Magdalena, Florida International University

      Negi, Rohit, Ohio State University

      Neumann, Caryn E., The Ohio State University, Newark

      Neumann, Roderick P., Independent Scholar

      Neves-Graca, Katja, Concordia University, France

      Noonan-Mooney, Kieran, Concordia University

      Norgaard, Kari Marie, Whitman College

      Novogradec, Ann, York University, England

      Nursey-Bray, Melissa, Australian Maritime College

      Obach, Brian, State University of New York

      O'Brien, Colleen M., University of Georgia

      Offen, Karl, University of Oklahoma

      Ogburn, Stephanie P., Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

      O'Reilly, Kathleen, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

      O'Sullivan, John, Gainesville State College

      Ouzts, Clay, Gainesville State College

      Overton, John, Massey University

      Ozler, S. Ilgu, State University of New York, New Paltz

      Padula, Alessandra, Universitá Degli Studi–L'Aquila, Italy

      Pal, Viktor, University of Tampere

      Paleo, Urbano Fra, University of Extremadura

      Palis, Joseph, Independent Scholar

      Palmer, Robert, Research Strategy Training

      Paradise, Thomas, University of Arkansas

      Parnell, Darren B., Salisbury University

      Parsons, Chris, University of London

      Parsons, E.C.M., George Mason University

      Pavri, Firooza, University of Southern Maine

      Pearce, Joshua M., Clarion University of Pennsylvania

      Pedersen, Anders Branth, University of Aarhus, Denmark

      Pero, Lionel, University of Queensland

      Perz, Stephen G., University of Florida

      Phillips, Rod, Michigan State University

      Pincetl, Stephanie, University of California, Los Angeles

      Pitchon, Ana, University of Georgia

      Pitzl, Gerald R., New Mexico Public Education Department

      Porinchu, David F., Ohio State University

      Prudham, Scott, University of Toronto, Canada

      Purcell, Mark, University of Washington

      Purdy, Elizabeth, Independent Scholar

      Quick, Denise, Community College of Vermont

      Raento, Pauliina, University of Helsinki, Finland

      Ramkissoon, Jennifer, Independent Scholar

      Regnery, Rebecca, George Mason University

      Reyes, Jessica Wolpaw, Amherst College

      Rice, Jennifer L., University of Arizona

      Richards, Noel, Flinders University, South Australia

      Roark, Kelly, University of Wisconsin

      Robbins, Paul, University of Arizona

      Robertson, Morgan, University of Kentucky

      Roche, Michael, Massey University

      Rollins, D.M., Independent Scholar

      Romero, A., Arkansas State University

      Rose, Naomi A., Humane Society International

      Rowe, William C., Louisiana State University

      Rupar, Verica, Victoria University of Wellington

      Russill, Chris, University of Minnesota

      Sangameswaran, Priya, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies and Development, Bangalore, India

      Sauri, David, Universitat Autònoma de Barcleona

      Sayre, Nathan F., University of California, Berkeley

      Schelhas, John, University of Queensland

      Schneider, Laura C., Rutgers University

      Schneller, Andrew J., Independent Scholar

      Sellen, Jeff, Washington State University

      Shao, Yang, University of North Carolina

      Sherman, Heidi M., University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

      Shrivastava, Rahul J., Florida International University

      Shumway, Matthew, Independent Scholar

      Simon, Gregory, University of Washington

      Simsik, Michael J., U.S. Peace Corps

      Sinclair, Amber Hughes, University of Georgia

      Skop, Emily, University of Texas, Austin

      Slocombe, Scott, Wilfrid Laurier University

      Smith, Dana C., Think

      Smith, Helen, University of Georgia

      Smith, Timothy F., Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

      Sneddon, Chris, Dartmouth College

      Sodikoff, Genese, Rutgers University

      Spangler, Jonathan, University of Glasgow

      Sponsel, Leslie E., University of Hawaii

      Steinberg, Phillip E., Florida State University

      Stewart, Kristin, Florida State University

      Stone, Glenn Davis, Washington University

      Storey, Donovan, Massey University

      Sultana, Farhana, King's College, London

      Taff, Gregory N., University of North Carolina

      Thiet, Rachel K., Antioch University

      Thompson, Alexander, Ohio State University

      Thornbrugh, Casey, University of Arizona

      Traub-Werner, Marion, University of Minnesota

      Uejio, Christopher, University of Arizona

      Unruh, Jon D., McGill University

      Varady, Robert G., University of Arizona

      Wainwright, Joel, Ohio State University

      Wallace, Gillian, University of Cambridge

      Wallmo, Kristy, National Marine Fisheries Service

      Walsh, John, Shinawatra University, Thailand

      Walsh, Stephen J., University of North Carolina

      Walzer, Norman, Western Illinois University

      Warren, W. A., Independent Scholar

      Waskey, Andrew J., Dalton State College

      Welsh, William F., Western Michigan University

      Whalen, Ken, University of Florida

      Wheeler, Samuel P., Southern Illinois University

      White, Damian, Independent Scholar

      White, Kristopher, Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research

      Whitehead, Judith, Independent Scholar

      Whitehead, Mark, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

      Whitford, Andrew B., University of Georgia

      Wikle, Thomas A., Oklahoma State University

      Wilcox, Sharon E., University of Texas, Austin

      Williams, Charles E., Clarion University of Pennsylvania

      Williamson, Margaret H., Gainesville State College

      Wilson, Randall K., Gettysburg College

      Winnegge, Ruger, University of Siegen, Germany

      Wittman, Hannah, Simon Fraser University

      Wolford, Wendy, University of North Carolina

      Wong, Theresa, Ohio State University

      Woodhouse, Edward, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

      Yeh, Emily T., University of Colorado, Boulder

      Young, Nancy, University of Minnesota

      Zhang, Yi, Ohio State University

      Ziliotto, Veronica M., Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina


      Africa: Topographic Map
      Africa: Political Map
      North America: Topographic Map
      North America: Political Map
      South America: Topographic Map
      South America: Political Map
      Asia: Topographic Map
      Asia: Political Map
      Central Asia: Topographic Map
      Central Asia: Political Map
      Australia: Topographic Map
      Australia: Political Map
      Europe: Topographic Map
      Europe: Political Map
      Arctic: Topographic Map
      Arctic: Political Map
      Antarctica: Topographic Map
      Antarctica: Political Map

    • Resource Guide


      Aaron, Sachs. Eco-Justice: Linking Human Rights and the Environment. World Watch Paper No. 127. (World Watch Institute, 1995)

      Angel, Bradley. Toxic Threat to Indian Lands: A Greenpeace Report (Greenpeace, 1991)

      Barrow, C.J. Environmental Management and Development (Routledge, 2005)

      Beacham, Walton, Castronova, Frank V. and Freedman, Bill (eds.). Beacham's Guide to International Endangered Species (Beacham Publishing Corporation, 2000)

      Beasley, Conger. Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots (South End Press, 1993)

      Berry, Brian L., et. al. The Social Burdens of Environmental Pollution: Comparative Metropolitan Data Source (Ballinger Publishing Co., 1997)

      Bewers, Michael J. Analysis of Questionnaire Responses (Global Environment Facility, International Waters Program Study, 2000)

      Boserup, Ester. The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure (George. Allen and Unwin, 1965)

      Botkin, Daniel Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century (Oxford University Press, 1992)

      Bowles, Ian A. and Pickett, Glenn T. Reframing the Green Window: An Analysis of the GEF Pilot Phase Approach to Biodiversity and Global Warming and Recommendations for the Operational Phase (Conservation International and Natural Resource Defense Council, 1994)

      Brady, N.C. and Weil, R.R. The Nature and Properties of soils (Prentice Hall, 2002)

      Brown, Phil and Mikelson, Edwin J. No Safe Place: Toxic Waste, Leukemia, and Community Action (University of California Press, 1990)

      Bryant, Bunyan (ed.). Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions (Island Press, 1995)

      Bryant, Bunyan and Mohai, Paul (eds.). Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse (Westview Press, 1992)

      Bryant, Dirk, Nielson, Daniel, and Tangley, Laura. The Last Frontier Forests: Ecosystems and Economies on the Edge (World Resources Institute, 1997)

      Bullard, Robert D. Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color (Sierra Club Press, 1993)

      Byron, William J. Toward Stewardship: An Interim Ethic of Poverty, Power, and Pollution (Paulist Press, 1995)

      California State Legislature, Senate, Urban Growth Policy Project. Prosperity, Equity, and Environmental Quality: Meeting the Challenge of California's Growth: Final Findings and Recommendations (Senate Publications, 1991)

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      400,000–350,000 B.C.E.: Human beings master the art of lighting and tending fires.

      12,000–10,000 B.C.E.: The first Agricultural Revolution occurs in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East.

      500 B.C.E.–500 C.E.: A significant increase in demand for luxury items accompanies the rise of the Roman Empire.

      Ivory, a hard dentine substance notable for its beauty and durability, becomes a valuable commodity. The Romans use it to create such items as musical instruments, statues, furniture, floor coverings, chariots and bird cages.

      889–904 C.E.: The first instance of the use of aquaculture, the method of cultivating aquatic organisms in underwater environments, occurs in China, where innovators breed carp fish in flooded rice fields.

      1273 C.E.: Shortly after taking power, King Edward I of England engages in one of the first acts of environmental protection in history when he bans the use of coal fires throughout the whole of England.

      1347–1350: The Black Death, a disease caused by the transfer of the bacteria Bacillus pestis from rats to humans, devastates Europe. Over one-third of its population is left dead.

      1690: Colonial Governor William Penn of Pennsylvania forces laborers to engage in one of the first acts of forest conservation when he requires that one acre of forest be preserved for every acre that is cut down.

      1789: German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovers uranium, an element later used in the development of the atomic bomb.

      1804: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embark on their famous expedition to the Pacific Coast and back.

      1841: Construction is completed on the 38-mile long Croton River Aqueduct in southeastern New York State. Its opening is attended by U.S. President John Tyler along with three former Presidents.

      1849: Following the Mexican-American War, which ended with significant territorial acquisitions by the U.S., the ability to manage land becomes a top national priority, and the Department of Interior is established. The department's duties mainly revolve around the preservation of federal land. The American bison, which at the time was being threatened with extinction due to excessive hunting, is prominently featured on the logo of the department.

      1850: The first use of septic systems, or underground waste treatment centers, occurs in France.

      1853: Scientists Alexander Wood and Charles Pravaz invent the hypodermic needle, a device later used to administer preventative vaccinations to such diseases as rabies and polio.

      1858: Central Park is constructed in New York City. Designers Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux attempt to conceal the visual din of the surrounding urban ugliness by making the park rich with lush and vibrant greenery.

      1862: French scientist Louis Pasteur invents pasteurization, the process of heating food to kill harmful bacteria and viruses.

      1862: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln creates the Department of Agriculture, a noncabinet department, whose purpose is to promote increased agriculture production and protect natural resources.

      1872: Yellowstone, an area located within the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is officially designated by the U.S. federal government as the world's first national park.

      1872: Prospectors in the newly settled American West are given free reign to engage in mineral exploration as part of the passage of the U.S. General Mining Law.

      1877: In one of the first examples of a governmentled effort to reduce pest infestation, Great Britain passes the Destructive Insects Act, providing funds to rid England of the Colorado potato beetle.

      1879: The United States Geological Survey is established as a subdepartment of the Department of the Interior. The agency is responsible for “classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain.”

      1880: Construction is completed in the Australian city of Warwick on the world's first concrete-arch dam, called the 75-miles Dam.

      1883: Concerns that widespread hunting of exotic birds will ultimately lead to their extinction prompts the founding of the American Ornithologist's Union.

      1889: U.S. President Grover Cleveland signs into law a bill promoting the head of the Department of Agriculture to a cabinet-level position.

      1891: The U.S. Congress passes the Forest Reserve Act, granting the President the authority to designate certain public domain lands as national forest reserves.

      1892: Environmental preservationist John Muir founds the Sierra Club, an organization that would increase its membership to 750,000 people by 2006.

      1896: The state of Connecticut files suit against Edward M. Greer, who had legally obtained animals in one state but attempted to sell them in another state where it would be considered illegal to do so. The Supreme Court rules that animal rights fall under the jurisdiction of individual states, rather than private interests. The Court's ruling would be later be overturned in the 1979 case of Hughes v. Oklahoma.

      1897: Congress passes the Forest Organic Act for the purpose of, among other things, to “furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.” It grants the President the authority to select public domain lands as forest preserves. Conservationists argue that forests should be preserved for their natural beauty, and not for timber supply.

      1902: President Theodore Roosevelt signs into law the Reclamation Act, providing funds for the irrigation of arid land on the West Coast of the United States.

      1902: Various Audubon Societies across the United States combine forces to form the National Audubon Society, which would be instrumental in the coming years in the passage of legislation to protect various bird species from becoming extinct.

      1905: The U.S. National Forest Service is created. Over time, the service would be responsible with overseeing the management of over 150 national forests.

      1906: Congress passes the U.S. Antiquities Act, granting the President the authority to designate certain land owned by the federal government as “national monuments” and therefore closed to excavation. Among the notable geological phenomena that were originally designated as “national monuments” is the Grand Canyon.

      1910: A massive fire in the northern Rockies of the United States destroys over 12,000 square kilometers of forest.

      1914–1918: During World War I, one-fifth of the world's population becomes infected with influenza, resulting in an estimated death toll of 35 million people.

      The country most affected by the outbreak of influenza was the United States, which experienced a decrease in its life expectancy rate by 10 years. The term The Great Influenza Pandemic has been coined to describe this period.

      1916: The U.S. Congress passes a bill creating the National Park Service, a federal agency that would be responsible for managing all of the U.S. state parks. By 2006, the agency would have control of over 84 million acres of land.

      1929–1970: Venezuela exports more oil than any other nation.

      1930: General Motors and DuPont introduce Freon, a refrigerant containing the synthetic chemical chlorofluorocarbon which was later found to be harmful to the upper ozone layer.

      1931: The Yellow River, the second largest river in China, experiences heavy flooding, resulting in a massive death toll estimated to be between 850,000 and 4,000,000 people.

      1931–1936: The Hoover Dam is constructed at a total cost of $49 million on the border between Arizona and Nevada. The second largest damn ever constructed in the United States, the Hoover Dam would provide over 2,000 megawatts of electricity to millions of people living in the Western United States.

      1932: Vincent J. Schaefer and Irving Langmuir are awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their pioneering work in manipulating clouds to avert rainfall.

      Their method involved supercooling clouds so that they are unable to bond together and produce rain.

      1935: As the Dust Bowl reaches its midway point, hundreds of thousands of farmers are given relief when the U.S. Soil Conservation Service is created. Through partnerships with local agencies, the service instructs farmers on the proper way to utilize their farmland without repeating the same mistakes that led to the Dust Bowl's beginnings.

      1936: A severe drought in the Chinese province of Sichuan displaces over 30 million farmers and causes the deaths of an estimated 5 million people.

      1939: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is created. By 2006, the service's duties would grow to include the management of more than 520 National Wildlife Refuges and over 66 National Fish Hatcheries.

      1946: The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is held in Washington, D.C. with representatives from 42 nations present. As a result of the conference, the official definition of “whalecatcher” was broadened to include helicopters and ships.

      1946: The U.S. Congress passes the Atomic Energy Act, creating the Atomic Energy Commission, the purpose of which is to regulate and monitor the development of nuclear technology. The act states that regulation and monitoring shall be placed under civilian, rather than military, control.

      1948: Swiss chemist Paul Herman Muller is awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery that the chemical DDT (dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane) can be used as an insecticide. DDT would help significantly lower the prevalence of malaria in Europe and North America.

      1953: Mountaineers Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first people to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at a height of nearly 30,000 feet, is the highest mountain in the world.

      1956: Construction begins on the Glen Canyon Dam in the U.S. state of Arizona. Upon completion, it would become the second highest concrete-arch dam in the country.

      1958: The U.S. Congress passes the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act. The act contains a clause called the Delaney Amendment which states that, “the Secretary [of the Food and Drug Administration] shall not approve for use in food any chemical additive found to induce cancer in man, or, after tests, found to induce cancer in animals.”

      1960: Jane Goodall travels to the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in the African country of Tanzinia, beginning her 45-year study of the complex social behavior of the animal from which humans descended.

      1962: Cesar Chavez initiates the merger of the National Farm Workers Association and the Agricultural Workers Organization to form the United Farm Workers.

      The organization would use such nonviolent methods as fasts, emulating the methods used by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

      1962: Environmental advocate Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, in which she details the careless handling of hazardous chemicals by major industrial companies. The book facilitated the growth of the modern environmentalist movement.

      1962–1971: During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force sprays large quantities of the dioxin chemical “Agent Orange” onto areas of South Vietnam. Later studies concluded that many American veterans of the war were contaminated with the chemical and experienced debilitating effects to their health years later.

      To counter claims of negligence, the Dow Chemical company releases a report entitled Trace Chemistries of Fire, in which it is alleged that Agent Orange, among other dioxins, is derived naturally from forest fires. The theory is almost immediately debunked by credible experts.

      1964: The U.S. Congress passes the Land and Water Conservation Act, providing funds for government-supervised construction of public parks and recreation areas.

      1964: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs into law the Wilderness Act, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. The act designates over 9 million acres of land in the U.S. as closed to excavation, as well as officially defining wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

      1968: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs into law the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, enabling the federal government to monitor and correct the destruction of various rivers.

      1968: The chemical PCB is found in hundreds of rice paddies in Japan. Over 17,000 cases of PCB infection are reported.

      1969: Following significant oil spills in the North Sea, the countries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom sign the Bonn Agreement, pledging to offer mutual assistance to fight environmental pollution.

      1969: The first oil spill in the United States to gain national attention occurs off the coast of California. Over 200,000 gallons of oil spill from an offshore well.

      1970: The League of Conservation Voters, one of the largest environmental lobbying groups in the U.S., is founded.

      1970: After touring a region devastated by an oil spill, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is stricken with a crisis of conscience and proposes on the Senate floor a bill to establish Earth Day as a holiday on April 22 of each year.

      1970: The government of West Germany issues the Emergency Program for Environmental Protection.

      1970: The National Environmental Policy Act is signed into law by U.S. President Richard Nixon. The preamble of the Act expresses the need “to declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.”

      1970: The Clean Air Act is passed by Congress in an attempt to protect the public from harmful airborne contaminants such as sulfur dioxide. The act would be amended in 1977 and again in 1990 to include more stringent regulations.

      1970: U.S. President Richard Nixon signs into law a bill creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency provides a federally coordinated effort to enforce environmental regulations.

      1970: The most deadly tropical cyclone in history with winds of 120 mph hits East Pakistan. Officials place the death toll at 500,000, attributing the high number of dead to the fact that the cyclone made landfall at a time when most residents in East Pakistan were sleeping.

      1970: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is created for the purpose of obtaining “a better understanding of the intelligent use of the United States’ marine resources.”

      1971: Egyptian and Sudanese laborers complete construction on the Aswan High Dam. Built to prevent overflooding of the Nile River, the dam is 3,600 meters in length and nearly 1000 meters wide.

      1972: A week-long blizzard in Iran results in the deaths of 4,000 people, making it the most deadly blizzard of the 20th century.

      1972: Congress passes the Ocean Dumping Act, requiring companies to be granted licenses by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to dump industrial, medical, and radioactive waste into U.S. territorial waters. The Act would be amended in 1988 as part of the passage of the Ocean Dumping Act, which outright banned the dumping of the aforementioned substances. An incident where large amounts of medical waste washed up on the shores of New Jersey prompted the Act's revision.

      1972: The state legislature of Florida passes a series of laws to protect the Everglades, marshlands located in southeastern Florida that had been threatened due to population growth.

      1972: The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is passed by Congress, requiring chemical manufacturers to submit their unlicensed products to the Environmental Protection Agency in order to ascertain its proper usage and any potential safety hazards.

      1972: The U.S. Congress bans the usage of the chemical DDT (dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane) within the United States after it is revealed that the chemical has a high potential to spread cancer infection.

      Despite the banning, the chemical continues to provide revenue for its manufacturers when it begins to be marketed and sold to Third World countries.

      1973: The U.S. Congress signs the Endangered Species Act into law. The act equips federal officials with greater tools to combat the potential extinction of certain species of animal.

      1973: Growing international concern for the plight of endangered species prompts the creation of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. The Convention offers funds to protect from extinction some 33,000 species of animals and plants.

      1974: Congress passes the Eastern Wilderness Act, enabling the preservation of wilderness areas in the densely populated and industrially polluted Eastern United States.

      1974: In her book Le Feminisme ou la Mort

      (Feminism or Death), French author Francoise d'Eaubonne posits that the societal instinct to destroy nature for industrial purposes is primarily patriarchal in nature. She encapsulates her philosophy by coining the term ecofeminism.

      1974: Through the passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is given the authority to enforce safety standards for drinking water at any level of government, whether it be state, local, or federal.

      1975: Novelist Edward Abbey publishes The Monkey Wrench. The title refers to acts of nonviolent civil disobedience designed to protect the environment, such as tree spiking and billboard graffiti.

      1976: The U.S. Congress passes the Toxic Substances Control Act, heavily regulating the usage of the organic compound polychlorinated biphenyl.

      1977: Professor Wangari Maathai founds the Green Belt Movement, an organization dedicated to providing environmentalist jobs such as tree planting to poor women in rural Africa.

      1977: In response to a sharp increase in the price of oil initiated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, The U.S. Department of Energy is established, bringing together dozens of energy-related organizations and agencies.

      1978: The supertanker Amoco Cadiz splits in two after accidentally running aground off the coast of France into the Portsall Rocks, spilling 68 million gallons of oil into the surrounding waters. Damages are estimated to be equal to the value of $250,000,000. The French government, however, requests a payment of $2,000,000,000 from the American Oil Company, the owner of the doomed vessel.

      1979: A “loss-of-coolant accident” occurs at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The accident is later determined to be caused by faulty instrument readings.

      1979–1989: The emergence of Japan as an economic superpower following the post-World War II reconstruction period creates a large upper class of Japanese citizens who flaunt their wealth with ivory-made items imported from Africa. As a result of this an other factors, the African elephant population drops nearly in half, from 1,300,000 to 750,000.

      1980–2004: The international fish market grows from $15.7 billion to $71 billion.

      1980: The U.S. Congress passes the Comprehensive Environmental Resource and Liability Act (CERCLA), giving government the power to identify hazardous waste sites and provide funding to facilitate the cleanup of the sites.

      1981: The first confirmed case of the AIDS virus in human beings is reported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Homosexual men in the city of Los Angeles are found to have unusually large “clusters of pneunomia.” Health officials at first erroneously assume that the disease has something to do with the men's sexual orientation, and name the disease GRID, or GayRelated Immune Deficiency.

      1981–2000: 40 million people are infected with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Nearly 50 percent of those affected with the virus are left dead.

      1983: In an attempt to bridge a compromise between members of the tropical timber industry and conservationists, 54 nations pledge to sign the International Tropical Timber Agreement. Subsequent revisions to the agreement would be made in 1994, 1997, and in 2006, when the total number of countries adhering to the agreement's terms expanded to 180.

      1984: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designates Yosemite National Park as a World Heritage Site, one of only 10 U.S. national parks to receive such an honor.

      1986: 135,000 people are forced to permanently evacuate their homes as a result of a nuclear reactor explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine.

      While not causing a significant number of deaths, radioactive material from the explosion continued to drift across the European continent in the coming years.

      1986: The Slow Food Movement, an organization dedicated to stopping the spread of culturally damaging fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, is founded in the northern part of Italy. The organization's membership would grow to include 83,000 people by 2006.

      1987: The Montreal Protocol becomes open for signature as concerns over the depletion of the ozone layer reach a fevered pitch. The 189 nations that eventually sign the treaty agree to phase out the usage of certain types of substances that are believed to cause ozone depletion.

      1988: Members of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program combine their respective areas of expertise to form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for the purpose of studying the causes and potential outcomes of global warming.

      1989: The Exxon-Valdez oil tanker crashes in Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska, spilling over 11 million gallons of crude oil. Along with damaging the habitats of countless organisms, the oil spill causes considerable economic damage with estimates ranging up to $43,000,000. The U.S. Congress passes the Oil Pollution Act, requiring oil tankers to meet stringent regulations, in the wake of the incident.

      1990: The Human Genome Project, a highly ambitious attempt to identify the purpose of the 2025,000 genes contained in the human body, is formally launched at a cost of $3,000,000,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. National Institute of Health. Geneticists from Japan, Germany, China, and France make significant contributions to the project.

      1990–2006: Following its reunification, Germany invests heavily in wind energy technology through the passage of such legislation as the Renewable Energy Sources Act. It would become the world leader in wind energy power, accounting for nearly half (39 percent) of the world's consumption.

      1990: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes after two years of research that global warming poses a serious threat to the environment and that it is likely due to pollution caused by humans.

      1991: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 36 percent of all food imported to the U.S. is contaminated with harmful amounts of pesticide residue.

      1992: The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development is held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, with representatives from 172 governments present. Among the topics discussed at the conference is the feasibility of converting to alternative sources of energy, and the growing problem of worldwide water shortages.

      1993: Construction begins on the Three Gorges Dam alongside the Chinese Yangtze River, a river historically prone to dangerous flooding. At 600 feet high and 1.5 miles long, it is the largest hydroelectric dam ever designed.

      1994: Mexico, Canada, and the United States enter into the North American Free Trade Agreement, creating the largest free trade area in the world. Environmental advocates complain that the industrial expansion that will result from increased trade will severely harm the environment. In response, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission are created. Both commissions are given operating funds exceeding $1,000,000,000.

      1995: A catastrophic heat wave in the U.S. city of Chicago and its surrounding metropolitan areas leaves over 500 people dead.

      1995: Members of the Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese religious cult, release a large quantity of the poisonous gas sarin on 5 separate railway trains in the capital of Tokyo, resulting in a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.

      1996: In an out-of-court settlement, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is forced to pay $333 million to the townspeople of Hinkly, California, who had sued the energy giant for contaminating their drinking water with a harmful toxin named hexavalent chromium.

      It was the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. The film Erin Brockovich, named after a law clerk who was instrumental in filing the case against PG&E, received 5 Academy Award nominations.

      1997: The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change becomes open for signature. The protocol requires countries to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage in order to gain membership. The protocol would grow in membership to include 166 countries by 2006.

      1999: A startling discovery that 500 tons of animal feed accidentally laced with the carcinogenic chemical PCB were distributed to farms in Belgium prompts farmers to wastefully slaughter a total of over 2 million chickens.

      1999: The West Nile Virus, a “flu-like” disease that is contracted through the bites of infected mosquitoes, first appears in the United States in the New York City borough of The Bronx.

      1999–2003: The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 15,000 cases of human West Nile Virus infection.

      2001: A mere few weeks after the September 11 attacks, letters contaminated with the deadly poison anthrax arrive in the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, as well as several major news organizations. 17 people are infected, resulting in five deaths.

      2004: A 9.0 magnitude earthquake erupts underneath the Indian Ocean, causing a massive tsunami that devastates parts of Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, India, and Sri Lanka. The total death toll is reported to be 200,000 people. A combination of nations including Australia, which pledged to provide funds equal to 25 percent of its gross domestic product, offer a total aid package of $7,000,000,000.

      2004: Halliburton Energy Services settles a classaction asbestos lawsuit out of court for a total of $4,200,000,000.

      2004: Novelist Michael publishes State of Fear, imagining a scenario where ecoterrorists stage a tsunami with the support of media companies in order to bring about climate change legislation.

      2005: The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS estimates that two-thirds of those affected by the AIDS virus live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

      2005: The category 3 Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in the southeastern United States. Damages are estimated at $80,000,000,000. 80 percent of the city of New Orleans becomes flooded, leaving a significant portion of the city's population unable to fend for themselves.

      Television cameras capture images of those waiting to be rescued on the streets of New Orleans, shockingly revealing that most of them are AfricanAmerican. Many Americans begin to question once again the validity of racial equality.

      2005: Hazardous environmental conditions caused by more than a decade of warfare place Afghanistan at the top of the list of the countries with the highest infant mortality rate. According to statistics, approximately 17.5 percent of Afghanis die shortly after being born.

      2005: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concludes that the herbicide 2,4-D does not pose a risk to human health when it is used in the method described in the product's instruction manual.

      2006: Former Vice President Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, in which he discusses the effect of global warming, becomes the third highest grossing documentary film of all time.

      2006: In its annual report of countries’ environmental performance, Yale University ranks New Zealand as the most environmentally friendly nation out of 133 ranked countries. The United States is ranked 28th, nearly the lowest among industrialized nations. Ranking last is the African country of Niger, which also has among the world's lowest GDPs.

      2006: Scientists announce the possibility of the avian bird flu mutating into a much more deadly version of itself due to hazardous environmental conditions.

      Compiled by Kevin G.Golson Golson Books, Ltd.


      Abatement: Reducing the degree or intensity of, or eliminating, pollution.

      Absorbed Dose: In exposure assessment, the amount of a substance that penetrates an exposed organism's absorption barriers (e.g. skin, lung tissue, gastrointestinal tract) through physical or biological processes. The term is synonymous with internal dose.

      Absorption: The uptake of water, other fluids, or dissolved chemicals by a cell or an organism (as tree roots absorb dissolved nutrients in soil.)

      Accident Site: The location of an unexpected occurrence, failure or loss, either at a plant or along a transportation route, resulting in a release of hazardous materials.

      Acclimatization: The physiological and behavioral adjustments of an organism to changes in its environment.

      Acid Deposition: A complex chemical and atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds and other substances are transformed by chemical processes in the atmosphere, often far from the original sources, and then deposited on earth in either wet or dry form. The wet forms, popularly called “acid rain,” can fall to earth as rain, snow, or fog. The dry forms are acidic gases or particulates.

      Acid Mine Drainage: Drainage of water from areas that have been mined for coal or other mineral ores. The water has a low pH because of its contact with sulfur-bearing material and is harmful to aquatic organisms.

      Acid Rain: (See: acid deposition.)

      Acidic: The condition of water or soil that contains a sufficient amount of acid substances to lower the pH below 7.0.

      Activated Carbon: A highly adsorbent form of carbon used to remove odors and toxic substances from liquid or gaseous emissions. In waste treatment, it is used to remove dissolved organic matter from waste drinking water. It is also used in motor vehicle evaporative control systems.

      Active Ingredient: In any pesticide product, the component that kills, or otherwise controls, target pests. Pesticides are regulated primarily on the basis of active ingredients.

      Acute Exposure: A single exposure to a toxic substance which may result in severe biological harm or death. Acute exposures are usually characterized as lasting no longer than a day, as compared to longer, continuing exposure over a period of time.

      Acute Toxicity: The ability of a substance to cause severe biological harm or death soon after a single exposure or dose. Also, any poisonous effect resulting from a single short-term exposure to a toxic substance.

      Adaptation: Changes in an organism's physiological structure or function or habits that allow it to survive in new surroundings.

      Administered Dose: In exposure assessment, the amount of a substance given to a test subject (human or animal) to determine dose-response relationships. Since exposure to chemicals is usually inadvertent, this quantity is often called potential dose.

      Adsorption: Removal of a pollutant from air or water by collecting the pollutant on the surface of a solid material; e.g., an advanced method of treating waste in which activated carbon removes organic matter from wastewater.

      Adulterants: Chemical impurities or substances that by law do not belong in a food, or pesticide.

      Advanced Wastewater Treatment: Any treatment of sewage that goes beyond the secondary or biological water treatment stage and includes the removal of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen and a high percentage of suspended solids.

      Advisory: A nonregulatory document that communicates risk information to those who may have to make risk management decisions.

      Aeration: A process which promotes biological degradation of organic matter in water. The process may be passive (as when waste is exposed to air), or active (as when a mixing or bubbling device introduces the air).

      Aerobic: Life or processes that require, or are not destroyed by, the presence of oxygen.

      Aerosol: A finely divided material suspended in air or other gaseous environment.

      Afforestation: Conversion of land to forest cover where forests have not historically occurred.

      Agent: Any physical, chemical, or biological entity that can be harmful to an organism (synonymous with stressors.)

      Agricultural Pollution: Farming wastes, including runoff and leaching of pesticides and fertilizers; erosion and dust from plowing; improper disposal of animal manure and carcasses; crop residues, and debris.

      Agricultural Waste: Poultry and livestock manure, and residual materials in liquid or solid form generated from the production and marketing of poultry, livestock or fur-bearing animals; also includes grain, vegetable, and fruit harvest residue.

      Agroecosystem: Land used for crops, pasture, and livestock; the adjacent uncultivated land that supports other vegetation and wildlife; and the associated atmosphere, the underlying soils, groundwater, and drainage networks.

      Air Pollutant: Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentration, harm man, other animals, vegetation, or material. Pollutants may include almost any natural or artificial composition of airborne matter capable of being airborne. They may be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, gases, or in combination thereof. Generally, they fall into two main groups: (1) those emitted directly from identifiable sources and (2) those produced in the air by interaction between two or more primary pollutants, or by reaction with normal atmospheric constituents, with or without photoactivation. Exclusive of pollen, fog, and dust, which are of natural origin, about 100 contaminants have been identified. Air pollutants are often grouped in categories for ease in classification; some of he categories are: solids, sulfur compounds, volatile organic chemicals, particulate matter, nitrogen compounds, oxygen compounds, halogen compounds, radioactive compound, and odors.

      Air Pollution Control Device: Mechanism or equipment that cleans emissions generated by a source (e.g., industrial smokestack, or an automobile exhaust system) by removing pollutants that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.

      Air Pollution: The presence of contaminants or pollutant substances in the air that interfere with human health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects.

      Air Quality Standards: The level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that are not be exceeded during a given time in a defined area.

      Airborne Particulates: Total suspended particulate matter found in the atmosphere as solid particles or liquid droplets. Chemical composition of particulates varies widely, depending on location and time of year. Sources of airborne particulates include: dust, emissions from industrial processes, combustion products from the burning of wood and coal, combustion products associated with motor vehicle or non-road engine exhausts, and reactions to gases in the atmosphere.

      Algae: Simple rootless plants that grow in sunlit waters in proportion to the amount of available nutrients. They can affect water quality adversely by lowering the dissolved oxygen in the water. They are food for fish and small aquatic animals.

      Algal Blooms: Sudden spurts of algal growth, which can affect water quality adversely and indicate potentially hazardous changes in water chemistry.

      Alkaline: The condition of water or soil which contains a sufficient amount of alkali substance to raise the pH above 7.0.

      Alkalinity: The capacity of bases to neutralize acids. An example is lime added to lakes to decrease acidity.

      Allergen: A substance that causes an allergic reaction in individuals sensitive to it.

      Alternative Fuels: Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. Includes mixtures of alcohol-based fuels with gasoline, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and others.

      Anaerobic Decomposition: Reduction of the net energy level and change in chemical composition of organic matter caused by microorganisms in an oxygen-free environment.

      Anaerobic: A life or process that occurs in, or is not destroyed by, the absence of oxygen.

      Animal Dander: Tiny scales of animal skin, a common indoor air pollutant.

      Animal Studies: Investigations using animals as surrogates for humans with the expectation that the results are pertinent to humans.

      Antarctic “Ozone Hole”: Refers to the seasonal depletion of ozone in the upper atmosphere above a large area of Antarctica.

      Anti-Degradation Clause: Part of federal air quality and water quality requirements prohibiting deterioration where pollution levels are above the legal limit.

      Anti-Microbial: An agent that kills microbes.

      Aquifer: An underground geological formation, or group of formations, containing water. Are sources of groundwater for wells and springs.

      Aquitard: Geological formation that may contain groundwater but is not capable of transmitting significant quantities of it under normal hydraulic gradients. May function as confining bed.

      Architectural Coatings: Coverings such as paint and roof tar that are used on exteriors of buildings.

      Area Source: Any source of air pollution that is released over a relatively small area but which cannot be classified as a point source. Such sources may include vehicles and other small engines, small businesses and household activities, or biogenic sources such as a forest that releases hydrocarbons.

      Artesian (Aquifer or Well): Water held under pressure in porous rock or soil confined by impermeable geological formations.

      Asbestos: A mineral fiber that can pollute air or water and cause cancer or asbestosis when inhaled, and is restricted.

      Asbestosis: A disease associated with inhalation of asbestos fibers. The disease makes breathing progressively more difficult and can be fatal.

      Attenuation: The process by which a compound is reduced in concentration over time, through absorption, adsorption, degradation, dilution, and/or transformation. an also be the decrease with distance of sight caused by attenuation of light by particulate pollution.

      Avoided Cost: The cost a utility would incur to generate the next increment of electric capacity using its own resources; many landfill gas projects’ buy back rates are based on avoided costs.

      Backflow/Back Siphonage: A reverse flow condition created by a difference in water pressures that causes water to flow back into the distribution pipes of a drinking water supply from any source other than the intended one.

      Background Level: 1. The concentration of a substance in an environmental media (air, water, or soil) that occurs naturally or is not the result of human activities. 2. In exposure assessment the concentration of a substance in a defined control area, during a fixed period of time before, during, or after a data-gathering operation.

      Backyard Composting: Diversion of organic food waste and yard trimmings from the municipal waste stream by composting hem in one's yard through controlled decomposition of organic matter by bacteria and fungi into a humus-like product. It is considered source reduction, not recycling, because the composted materials never enter the waste stream.

      Bacteria: (Singular: bacterium) Microscopic living organisms that can aid in pollution control by metabolizing organic matter in sewage, oil spills or other pollutants. However, bacteria in soil, water or air can also cause human, animal and plant health problems.

      Bactericide: A pesticide used to control or destroy bacteria, typically in the home, schools, or hospitals.

      Basalt: Consistent year-round energy use of a facility; also refers to the minimum amount of electricity supplied continually to a facility.

      Benefit-Cost Analysis: An economic method for assessing the benefits and costs of achieving alternative health-based standards at given levels of health protection.

      Best Available Control Measures (BACM): A term used to refer to the most effective measures (according to EPA guidance) for controlling small or dispersed particulates and other emissions from sources such as roadway dust, soot and ash from woodstoves and open burning of rush, timber, grasslands, or trash.

      Best Available Control Technology (BACT): The most stringent technology available for controlling emissions; major sources are required to use BACT, unless it can be demonstrated that it is not feasible for energy, environmental, or economic reasons.

      Best Demonstrated Available Technology (BDAT):

      As identified by EPA, the most effective commercially available means of treating specific types of hazardous waste. The BDATs may change with advances in treatment technologies.

      Best Management Practice (BMP): Methods that have been determined to be the most effective, practical means of preventing or reducing pollution from nonpoint sources.

      Bioaccumulants: Substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water, or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.

      Bioconcentration: The accumulation of a chemical in tissues of a fish or other organism to levels greater than in the surrounding medium.

      Biodegradable: Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

      Biodiversity: Refers to the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur. Diversity can be defined as the number of different items and their relative frequencies. For biological diversity, these items are organized at many levels, ranging from complete ecosystems to the biochemical structures that are the molecular basis of heredity. Thus, the term encompasses different ecosystems, species, and genes.

      Biological Contaminants: Living organisms or derivates (e.g. viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mammal and bird antigens) that can cause harmful health effects when inhaled, swallowed, or otherwise taken into the body.

      Biological Integrity: The ability to support and maintain balanced, integrated, functionality in the natural habitat of a given region. Concept is applied primarily in drinking water management.

      Biological Magnification: Refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into rivers or lakes, and are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals or humans. The substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain.

      Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD): An indirect measure of the concentration of biologically degradable material present in organic wastes. It usually reflects the amount of oxygen consumed in five days by biological processes breaking down organic waste.

      Biologicals: Vaccines, cultures, and other preparations made from living organisms and their products, intended for use in diagnosing, immunizing, or treating humans or animals, or in related research.

      Biomass: All of the living material in a given area; often refers to vegetation.

      Biome: Entire community of living organisms in a single major ecological area.

      Biomonitoring: 1. The use of living organisms to test the suitability of effluents for discharge into receiving waters and to test the quality of such waters downstream from the discharge. 2. Analysis of blood, urine, tissues, etc., to measure chemical exposure in humans.

      Bioremediation: Use of living organisms to clean up oil spills or remove other pollutants from soil, water, or wastewater; use of organisms such as non-harmful insects to remove agricultural pests or counteract diseases of trees, plants, and garden soil.

      Biosphere: The portion of Earth and its atmosphere that can support life.

      Biotechnology: Techniques that use living organisms or parts of organisms to produce a variety of products (from medicines to industrial enzymes) to improve plants or animals or to develop microorganisms to remove toxics from bodies of water, or act as pesticides.

      Bloom: A proliferation of algae and/or higher aquatic plants in a body of water; often related to pollution, especially when pollutants accelerate growth.

      Bottle Bill: Proposed or enacted legislation which requires a returnable deposit on beer or soda containers and provides for retail store or other redemption. Such legislation is designed to discourage use of throw-away containers.

      British Thermal Unit: Unit of heat energy equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.

      Brownfields: Abandoned, idled, or under used industrial and commercial facilities/sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. EPA's Brownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic viability of such areas or properties.

      Bubble: A system under which existing emissions sources can propose alternate means to comply with a set of emissions limitations; under the bubble concept, sources can control more than required at one emission point where control costs are relatively low in return for a comparable relaxation of controls at a second emission point where costs are higher.

      Building Related Illness: Diagnosable illness whose cause and symptoms can be directly attributed to a specific pollutant source within a building (e.g., Legionnaire's disease, hypersensitivity, pneumonitis.)

      Burial Ground (Graveyard): A disposal site for radioactive waste materials that uses earth or water as a shield.

      By-product: Material, other than the principal product, generated as a consequence of an indus trial process or as a breakdown product in a living system.

      Cadmium (Cd): A heavy metal that accumulates in the environment.

      Cap: A layer of clay, or other impermeable material installed over the top of a closed landfill to prevent entry of rainwater and minimize leachate.

      Carbon Monoxide (CO): A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion.

      Carcinogen: Any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer.

      Carrying Capacity: 1. In recreation management, the amount of use a recreation area can sustain without loss of quality. 2. In wildlife management, the maximum number of animals an area can support during a given period.

      Catalyst: A substance that changes the speed or yield of a chemical reaction without being consumed or chemically changed by the chemical reaction.

      Catalytic Converter: An air pollution abatement device that removes pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, either by oxidizing them into carbon dioxide and water or reducing them to nitrogen.

      Cells: 1. In solid waste disposal, holes where waste is dumped, compacted, and covered with layers of dirt on a daily basis. 2. The smallest structural part of living matter capable of functioning as an independent unit.

      Channelization: Straightening and deepening streams so water will move faster, a marsh-drainage tactic that can interfere with waste assimilation capacity, disturb fish and wildlife habitats, and aggravate flooding.

      Chemical Compound: A distinct and pure substance formed by the union or two or more elements in definite proportion by weight.

      Chisel Plowing: Preparing croplands by using a special implement that avoids complete inversion of the soil as in conventional plowing. Chisel plowing can leave a protective cover or crops residues on the soil surface to help prevent erosion and improve filtration.

      Chlorinated Hydrocarbons: 1. Chemicals containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen. These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Among them are DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, Mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene. Other examples include TCE, used as an industrial solvent. 2. Any chlorinated organic compounds including chlorinated solvents such as dichloromethane, trichloromethylene, chloroform.

      Chlorination: The application of chlorine to drinking water, sewage, or industrial waste to disinfect or to oxidize undesirable compounds.

      Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): A family of inert, nontoxic, and easily liquefied chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging, insulation, or as solvents and aerosol propellants. Because CFCs are not destroyed in the lower atmosphere they drift into the upper atmosphere where their chlorine components destroy ozone.

      Chronic Exposure: Multiple exposures occurring over an extended period of time or over a significant fraction of an animal's or human's lifetime (usually seven years to a lifetime.)

      Circle of Poison: the import of crops from foreign countries that have been contaminated by pesticides produced by the importing country.

      Clean Fuels: Blends or substitutes for gasoline fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and liquified petroleum gas.

      Cleanup: Actions taken to deal with a release or threat of release of a hazardous substance that could affect humans and/or the environment. The term “cleanup” is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms remedial action, removal action, response action, or corrective action.

      Clearcut: Harvesting all the trees in one area at one time, a practice that can encourage fast rainfall or snowmelt runoff, erosion, sedimentation of streams and lakes, and flooding.

      Climate Change (also referred to as ‘global climate change’): The term climate change is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the Earth's climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another. In some cases, climate change has been used synonymously with the term, global warming; scientists however, tend to use the term in the wider sense to also include natural changes in climate.

      Cloning: In biotechnology, obtaining a group of genetically identical cells from a single cell; making identical copies of a gene.

      Coastal Zone: Lands and waters adjacent to the coast that exert an influence on the uses of the sea and its ecology, or whose uses and ecology are affected by the sea.

      Cogeneration: The consecutive generation of useful thermal and electric energy from the same fuel source.

      Columbian Exchange: The interchange of diseases, crop plants, livestock, cultural practices, and people between Eurasia/Africa and North/South America during the period after first contact in 1492.

      Combined Sewer Overflows: Discharge of a mixture of storm water and domestic waste when the flow capacity of a sewer system is exceeded during rainstorms.

      Commercial Waste: All solid waste emanating from business establishments such as stores, markets, office buildings, restaurants, shopping centers, and theaters.

      Commodity Chain: a networked pathway along which a good travels from the site of raw material production, through processing and value-added, ultimately to the consumer as a finished product.

      Common Property Resources: those resources owned and managed in common by a group or community, often managed through sophisticated institutions

      Communism: a mode of social and economic organization in which communal ownership of productive capital is paramount and profit-seeking is central

      Community: In ecology, an assemblage of populations of different species within a specified location in space and time. Sometimes, a particular subgrouping may be specified, such as the fish community in a lake or the soil arthropod community in a forest.

      Comparative Risk Assessment: Process that generally uses the judgement of experts to predict effects and set priorities among a wide range of environmental problems.

      Compost: The relatively stable humus material that is produced from a composting process in which bacteria in soil mixed with garbage and degradable trash break down the mixture into fertilizer.

      Composting: The controlled biological decomposition of organic material in the presence of air to form a humus-like material. Controlled methods of composting include mechanical mixing and aerating, ventilating the materials by dropping them through a vertical series of aerated chambers, or placing the compost in piles out in the open air and mixing it or turning it periodically.

      Compressed Natural Gas (CNG): An alternative fuel for motor vehicles; considered one of the cleanest because of low hydrocarbon emissions and its vapors are relatively nonozone producing. However, vehicles fueled with CNG do emit a significant quantity of nitrogen oxides.

      Concentration: The relative amount of a substance mixed with another substance. An example is five ppm of carbon monoxide in air or 1 mg/l of iron in water.

      Conservation Easement: Easement restricting a landowner to land uses that that are compatible with long-term conservation and environmental values.

      Conservation: Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources. The use, protection, and improvement of natural resources according to principles that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.

      Consumptive Water Use: Water removed from available supplies without return to a water resources system, e.g., water used in manufacturing, agriculture, and food preparation.

      Contact Pesticide: A chemical that kills pests when it touches them, instead of by ingestion. Also, soil that contains the minute skeletons of certain algae that scratch and dehydrate waxy-coated insects.

      Contaminant: Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water, or soil.

      Contamination: Introduction into water, air, and soil of microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater in a concentration that makes the medium unfit for its next intended use. Also applies to surfaces of objects, buildings, and various household and agricultural use products.

      Contour Plowing: Soil tilling method that follows the shape of the land to discourage erosion.

      Conventional Tilling: Tillage operations considered standard for a specific location and crop and that tend to bury the crop residues; usually considered as a base for determining the cost effectiveness of control practices.

      Cooling Tower: A structure that helps remove heat from water used as a coolant; e.g., in electric power generating plants.

      Cost Recovery: A legal process by which potentially responsible parties who contributed to contamination at a Superfund site can be required to reimburse the Trust Fund for money spent during any cleanup actions by the federal government.

      Cost Sharing: A publicly financed program through which society, as a beneficiary of environmental protection, shares part of the cost of pollution control with those who must actually install the controls. In Superfund, for example, the government may pay part of the cost of a cleanup action with those responsible for the pollution paying the major share.

      Cost/Benefit Analysis: A quantitative evaluation of the costs which would have incurred by implementing an environmental regulation versus the overall benefits to society of the proposed action.

      Cradle-to-Grave or Manifest System: A procedure in which hazardous materials are identified and followed as they are produced, treated, transported, and disposed of by a series of permanent, linkable, descriptive documents (e.g. manifests). Commonly referred to as the cradle-to-grave system.

      Cross Contamination: The movement of underground contaminants from one level or area to another due to invasive subsurface activities.

      Cryptosporidium: A protozoan microbe associated with the disease cryptosporidiosis in man. The disease can be transmitted through ingestion of drinking water, person-to-person contact, or other pathways, and can cause acute diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, and can be fatal.

      Cultural Ecology: A field of research concerned with the interrelationships between humans and their surrounding environment, typically involving detailed small-scale analysis of communities and livelihoods

      Cultures and Stocks: Infectious agents and associated biologicals including cultures from medical and pathological laboratories; cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research and industrial laboratories; waste from the production of biologicals; discarded live and attenuated vaccines; and culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures.

      Cumulative Exposure: The sum of exposures of an organism to a pollutant over a period of time.

      DDT: The first chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide chemical name: Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane. It has a half-life of 15 years and can collect in fatty tissues of certain animals. EPA banned registration and interstate sale of DDT for virtually all but emergency uses in the United States in 1972 because of its persistence in the environment and accumulation in the food chain.

      Decomposition: The breakdown of matter by bacteria and fungi, changing the chemical makeup and physical appearance of materials.

      Decontamination: Removal of harmful substances such as noxious chemicals, harmful bacteria or other organisms, or radioactive material from exposed individuals, rooms and furnishings in buildings, or the exterior environment.

      Degree-Day: A rough measure used to estimate the amount of heating required in a given area; is defined as the difference between the mean daily temperature and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Degree-days are also calculated to estimate cooling requirements.

      Density: A measure of how heavy a specific volume of a solid, liquid, or gas is in comparison to water. depending on the chemical.

      Dermal Toxicity: The ability of a pesticide or toxic chemical to poison people or animals by contact with the skin.

      Desertification: The degradation of arid and semiarid lands, resulting in lower levels of productivity and desert-like conditions.

      Designer Bugs: Popular term for microbes developed through biotechnology that can degrade specific toxic chemicals at their source in toxic waste dumps or in ground water.

      Diffusion: The movement of suspended or dissolved particles (or molecules) from a more concentrated to a less concentrated area. The process tends to distribute the particles or molecules more uniformly.

      Dioxin: Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Concern about them arises from their potential toxicity as contaminants in commercial products. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the more toxic anthropogenic (man-made) compounds.

      Direct Discharger: A municipal or industrial facility which introduces pollution through a defined conveyance or system such as outlet pipes; a point source.

      Disinfectant: A chemical or physical process that kills pathogenic organisms in water, air, or on surfaces. Chlorine is often used to disinfect sewage treatment effluent, water supplies, wells, and swimming pools.

      Dispersant: A chemical agent used to break up concentrations of organic material such as spilled oil.

      Disposal Facilities: Repositories for solid waste, including landfills and combustors intended for permanent containment or destruction of waste materials. Excludes transfer stations and composting facilities.

      Drainage Basin: The area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common outlet at some point along a stream channel.

      Drainage Well: A well drilled to carry excess water off agricultural fields. Because they act as a funnel from the surface to the groundwater below. Drainage wells can contribute to groundwater pollution.

      Drainage: Improving the productivity of agricultural land by removing excess water from the soil by such means as ditches or subsurface drainage tiles.

      Drawdown: 1. The drop in the water table or level of water in the ground when water is being pumped from a well. 2. The amount of water used from a tank or reservoir. 3. The drop in the water level of a tank or reservoir.

      Dredging: Removal of mud from the bottom of water bodies. This can disturb the ecosystem and causes silting that kills aquatic life. Dredging of contaminated muds can expose biota to heavy metals and other toxics. Dredging activities may be subject to regulation under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

      Ecological Entity: In ecological risk assessment, a general term referring to a species, a group of species, an ecosystem function or characteristic, or a specific habitat or biome.

      Ecological Impact: The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and their non-living (abiotic) environment.

      Ecological Indicator: A characteristic of an ecosystem that is related to, or derived from, a measure of biotic or abiotic variable, that can provide quantitative information on ecological structure and function. An indicator can contribute to a measure of integrity and sustainability.

      Ecological Integrity: A living system exhibits integrity if, when subjected to disturbance, it sustains and organizes self-correcting ability to recover toward a biomass end-state that is normal for that system. End-states other than the pristine or naturally whole may be accepted as normal and good.

      Ecological Risk Assessment: The application of a formal framework, analytical process, or model to estimate the effects of human actions(s) on a natural resource and to interpret the significance of those effects in light of the uncertainties identified in each component of the assessment process. Such analysis includes initial hazard identification, exposure and dose-response assessments, and risk characterization.

      Ecological/Environmental Sustainability: Maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.

      Ecology: The relationship of living things to one another and their environment, or the study of such relationships.

      Ecosystem Structure: Attributes related to the instantaneous physical state of an ecosystem; examples include species population density, species richness or evenness, and standing crop biomass.

      Ecosystem: The interacting system of a biological community and its nonliving environmental surroundings.

      Ecotone: A habitat created by the juxtaposition of distinctly different habitats; an edge habitat; or an ecological zone or boundary where two or more ecosystems meet.

      Effluent: Wastewater—treated or untreated—that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.

      Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory: An annual report by facilities having one or more extremely hazardous substances or hazardous chemicals above certain weight limits.

      Emission Cap: A limit designed to prevent projected growth in emissions from existing and future stationary sources from eroding any mandated reductions. Generally, such provisions require that any emission growth from facilities under the restrictions be offset by equivalent reductions at other facilities under the same cap.

      Emission: Pollution discharged into the atmosphere from smokestacks, other vents, and surface areas of commercial or industrial facilities; from residential chimneys; and from motor vehicle, locomotive, or aircraft exhausts.

      Emissions Trading: The creation of surplus emission reductions at certain stacks, vents or similar emissions sources and the use of this surplus to meet or redefine pollution requirements applicable to other emissions sources. This allows one source to increase emissions when another source reduces them, maintaining an overall constant emission level. Facilities that reduce emissions substantially may “bank” their “credits” or sell them to other facilities or industries.

      Endangered Species: Animals, birds, fish, plants, or other living organisms threatened with extinction by anthropogenic (man-caused) or other natural changes in their environment. Requirements for declaring a species endangered are contained in the Endangered Species Act.

      End-of-the-pipe: Technologies such as scrubbers on smokestacks and catalytic convertors on automobile tailpipes that reduce emissions of pollutants after they have formed.

      Engineered Controls: Method of managing environmental and health risks by placing a barrier between the contamination and the rest of the site, thus limiting exposure pathways.

      Enlightenment: The historical philosophical movement in the 1700s and after emphasizing scientific methods, empiricism, and rationality.

      Environmental Determinism: A largely discredited body of theory that explains human culture, history, and race solely with reference to climatic and topographical conditions

      Environmental Equity/Justice: Equal protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and implies that no population of people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of negative environmental impacts of pollution or environmental hazard due to a lack of political or economic strength levels.

      Environmental Indicator: A measurement, statistic or value that provides a proximate gauge or evidence of the effects of environmental management programs or of the state or condition of the environment.

      Environmental Justice: The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and educational levels with respect to the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

      Environmental Sustainability: Long-term maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.

      Environmental/Ecological Risk: The potential for adverse effects on living organisms associated with pollution of the environment by effluents, emissions, wastes, or accidental chemical releases; energy use; or the depletion of natural resources.

      Epidemiology: Study of the distribution of disease, or other health-related states and events in human populations, as related to age, sex, occupation, ethnicity, and economic status in order to identify and alleviate health problems and promote health.

      Equilibrium: In relation to radiation, the state at which the radioactivity of consecutive elements within a radioactive series is neither increasing nor decreasing.

      Ethanol: An alternative automotive fuel derived from grain and corn; usually blended with gasoline to form gasohol.

      Eutrophication: The slow aging process during which a lake, estuary, or bay evolves into a bog or marsh and eventually disappears. During the later stages of eutrophication the water body is choked by abundant plant life due to higher levels of nutritive compounds such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Human activities can accelerate the process.

      Evapotranspiration: The loss of water from the soil both by evaporation and by transpiration from the plants growing in the soil.

      Exotic Species: A species that is not indigenous to a region.

      Exposure: The amount of radiation or pollutant present in a given environment that represents a potential health threat to living organisms.

      Externality: The cost or benefit in an action, transaction, or exchange that is borne by parties external to that transaction.

      Fecal Coliform Bacteria: Bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Their presence in water or sludge is an indicator of pollution and possible contamination by pathogens.

      Feng Shui: Geomantic principles for the arrangement of the built environment to assure good fortune and health.

      Filtration: A treatment process, under the control of qualified operators, for removing solid (particulate) matter from water by means of porous media such as sand or a man-made filter; often used to remove particles that contain pathogens.

      Floodplain: The flat or nearly flat land along a river or stream or in a tidal area that is covered by water during a flood.

      Fluoridation: The addition of a chemical to increase the concentration of fluoride ions in drinking water to reduce the incidence of tooth decay.

      Food Chain: A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next, lower member of the sequence as a food source.

      Food Web: The feeding relationships by which energy and nutrients are transferred from one species to another.

      Fossil Fuel: Fuel derived from ancient organic remains; e.g. peat, coal, crude oil, and natural gas.

      Free Trade Associations/Zones: Groups of nations or regions where tariff and quotas barriers are reduced or eliminated to spur increased economic activity.

      Fresh Water: Water that generally contains less than 1,000 milligrams-per-liter of dissolved solids.

      Fuel Efficiency: The proportion of energy released by fuel combustion that is converted into useful energy.

      Fugitive Emissions: Emissions not caught by a capture system.

      Fungicide: Pesticides which are used to control, deter, or destroy fungi.

      Fungus (Fungi): Molds, mildews, yeasts, mushrooms, and puffballs, a group of organisms lacking in chlorophyll (i.e., are not photosynthetic) and which are usually non-mobile, filamentous, and multicellular. Some grow in soil, others attach themselves to decaying trees and other plants whence they obtain nutrients. Some are pathogens, others stabilize sewage and digest composted waste.

      Genetic Engineering: A process of inserting new genetic information into existing cells in order to modify a specific organism for the purpose of changing one of its characteristics.

      Geographic Information System (GIS): A computer system designed for storing, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying data in a geographic context.

      Giardia Lamblia: Protozoan in the feces of humans and animals that can cause severe gastrointestinal ailments. It is a common contaminant of surface waters.

      Global Warming: An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently concluded that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the Earth's surface temperature and that increased concentrations of sulfate aerosols have led to relative cooling in some regions, generally over and downwind of heavily industrialized areas.

      Gray Water: Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks, tubs, and washers.

      Greenhouse Effect: The warming of the Earth's atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases; some scientists think that this buildup allows the sun's rays to heat the Earth, while making the infrared radiation atmosphere opaque to infrared radiation, thereby preventing a counterbalancing loss of heat.

      Greenhouse Gas: A gas, such as carbon dioxide or methane, which contributes to potential climate change.

      Ground Water: The supply of fresh water found beneath the Earth's surface, usually in aquifers, which supply wells and springs. Because ground water is a major source of drinking water, there is growing concern over contamination from leaching agricultural or industrial pollutants or leaking underground storage tanks.

      Ground-Penetrating Radar: A geophysical method that uses high frequency electromagnetic waves to obtain subsurface information.

      Ground-Water Discharge: Ground water entering near coastal waters which has been contaminated by landfill leachate, deep well injection of hazardous wastes, septic tanks, etc.

      Habitat: The place where a population (e.g., human, animal, plant, microorganism) lives and its surroundings, both living and non-living.

      Half-Life: 1. The time required for a pollutant to lose one-half of its original coconcentrationor example, the biochemical half-life of DDT in the environment is 15 years. 2. The time required for half of the atoms of a radioactive element to undergo selftransmutation or decay (half-life of radium is 1620 years). 3. The time required for the elimination of half a total dose from the body.

      Hazard Assessment: Evaluating the effects of a stressor or determining a margin of safety for an organism by comparing the concentration which causes toxic effects with an estimate of exposure to the organism.

      Heat Island Effect: A “dome” of elevated temperatures over an urban area caused by structural and pavement heat fluxes, and pollutant emissions.

      Herbicide: A chemical pesticide designed to control or destroy plants, weeds, or grasses.

      High Seas: Portions of the ocean beyond the limits of national jurisdictions as defined by the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

      High-Level Nuclear Waste Facility: Plant designed to handle disposal of used nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, and plutonium waste.

      High-Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW): Waste generated in core fuel of a nuclear reactor, found at nuclear reactors or by nuclear fuel reprocessing; is a serious threat to anyone who comes near the waste without shielding.

      High-Risk Community: A community located within the vicinity of numerous sites of facilities or other potential sources of envienvironmental exposure/health hazards which may result in high levels of exposure to contaminants or pollutants.

      Host: 1. In genetics, the organism, typically a bacterium, into which a gene from another organism is transplanted. 2. In medicine, an animal infected or parasitized by another organism.

      Hydrocarbons (HC): Chemical compounds that consist entirely of carbon and hydrogen.

      Hydrogeology: The geology of ground water, with particular emphasis on the chemistry and movement of water.

      Hypersensitivity Diseases: Diseases characterized by allergic responses to pollutants; diseases most clearly associated with indoor air quality are asthma, rhinitis, and pneumonic hypersensitivity.

      Ignitable: Capable of burning or causing a fire.

      Incineration: A treatment technology involving destruction of waste by controlled burning at high temperatures; e.g., burning sludge to remove the water and reduce the remaining residues to a safe, non-burnable ash that can be disposed of safely on land, in some waters, or in underground locations.

      Incinerator: A furnace for burning waste under controlled conditions.

      Indicator: In biology, any biological entity or processes, or community whose characteristics show the presence of specific environmental conditions. 2. In chemistry, a substance that shows a visible change, usually of color, at a desired point in a chemical reaction. 3. A device that indicates the result of a measurement; e.g. a pressure gauge or a moveable scale.

      Indirect Discharge: Introduction of pollutants from a non-domestic source into a publicly owned wastetreatment system. Indirect dischargers can be commercial or industrial facilities whose wastes enter local sewers.

      Indirect Source: Any facility or building, property, road or parking area that attracts motor vehicle traffic and, indirectly, causes pollution.

      Indoor Air Pollution: Chemical, physical, or biological contaminants in indoor air.

      Industrial Waste: Unwanted materials from an industrial operation; may be liquid, sludge, solid, or hazardous waste.

      Infectious Agent: Any organism, such as a pathogenic virus, parasite, or or bacterium, that is capable of invading body tissues, multiplying, and causing disease.

      Infiltration: 1. The penetration of water through the ground surface into sub-surface soil or the penetration of water from the soil into sewer or other pipes through defective joints, connections, or manhole walls. 2. The technique of applying large volumes of waste water to land to penetrate the surface and percolate through the underlying soil.

      Inorganic Chemicals: Chemical substances of mineral origin, not of basically carbon structure.

      Insecticide: A pesticide compound specifically used to kill or prevent the growth of insects.

      Interstate Commerce Clause: A clause of the U.S. Constitution which reserves to the federal government the right to regulate the conduct of business across state lines. Under this clause, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states may not inequitably restrict the disposal of out-of-state wastes in their jurisdictions.

      Interstate Waters: Waters that flow across or form part of state or international boundaries; e.g., the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, or coastal waters.

      Inversion: A layer of warm air that prevents the rise of cooling air and traps pollutants beneath it; can cause an air pollution episode.

      Irradiated Food: Food subject to brief radioactivity, usually gamma rays, to kill insects, bacteria, and mold, and to permit storage without refrigeration.

      Irradiation: Exposure to radiation of wavelengths shorter than those of visible light (gamma, x-ray, or ultra-violet), for medical purposes, to sterilize milk or other foodstuffs, or to induce polymerization of monomers or vulcanization of rubber.

      Irrigation: Applying water or wastewater to land areas to supply the water and nutrient needs of plants.

      Karst: A geologic formation of irregular limestone deposits with sinks, underground streams, and caverns.

      Kinetic Energy: Energy possessed by a moving object or water body.

      Laboratory Animal Studies: Investigations using animals as surrogates for humans.

      Landfills: 1. Sanitary landfills are disposal sites for non-hazardous solid wastes spread in layers, compacted to the smallest practical volume, and covered by material applied at the end of each operating day. 2. Secure chemical landfills are disposal sites for hazardous waste, selected and designed to minimize the chance of release of hazardous substances into the environment.

      Landscape Ecology: The study of the distribution patterns of communities and ecosystems, the ecological processes that affect those patterns, and changes in pattern and process over time.

      Landscape: The traits, patterns, and structure of a specific geographic area, including its biological composition, its physical environment, and its anthropogenic or social patterns. An area where interacting ecosystems are grouped and repeated in similar form.

      Lead (Pb): A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations.

      Lethal Dose 50: Also referred to as LD50, the dose of a toxicant that will kill 50 percent of test organisms within a designated period of time; the lower the LD 50, the more toxic the compound.

      Lifetime Exposure: Total amount of exposure to a substance that a human would receive in a lifetime (usually assumed to be 70 years).

      Limnology: The study of the physical, chemical, hydrological, and biological aspects of fresh water bodies.

      Litter: 1. The highly visible portion of solid waste carelessly discarded outside the regular garbage and trash collection and disposal system. 2. leaves and twigs fallen from forest trees.

      Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW): Wastes less hazardous than most of those associated with a nuclear reactor; generated by hospitals, research laboratories, and certain industries. The Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and EPA share responsibilities for managing them.

      Marsh: A type of wetland that does not accumulate appreciable peat deposits and is dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Marshes may be either fresh or saltwater, tidal or nontidal.

      Medical Waste: Any solid waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals, excluding hazardous waste identified or listed under 40 CFR Part 261 or any household waste as defined in 40 CFR Sub-section 261.4 (b)(1).

      Mercury (Hg): Heavy metal that can accumulate in the environment and is highly toxic if breathed or swallowed.

      Methane: A colorless, nonpoisonous, flammable gas created by anaerobic decomposition of organic compounds. A major component of natural gas used in the home.

      Methanol: An alcohol that can be used as an alternative fuel or as a gasoline additive. It is less volatile than gasoline; when blended with gasoline it lowers the carbon monoxide emissions but increases hydrocarbon emissions. Used as pure fuel, its emissions are less ozone-forming than those from gasoline. Poisonous to humans and animals if ingested.

      Microclimate: 1. Localized climate conditions within an urban area or neighborhood. 2. The climate around a tree or shrub or a stand of trees.

      Mitigation: Measures taken to reduce adverse impacts on the environment.

      Monoculture: Agriculture in which only one crop is planted at a time, usually over a large area

      Montreal Protocol: Treaty, signed in 1987, governs stratospheric ozone protection and research, and the production and use of ozone-depleting substances. It provides for the end of production of ozone-depleting substances such as CFCS. Under the Protocol, various research groups continue to assess the ozone layer.

      Morbidity: Rate of disease incidence.

      Municipal Sewage: Wastes (mostly liquid) orginating from a community; may be composed of domestic wastewaters and/or industrial discharges.

      Municipal Solid Waste: Common garbage or trash generated by industries, businesses, institutions, and homes.

      Mutagen/Mutagenicity: An agent that causes a permanent genetic change in a cell other than that which occurs during normal growth. Mutagenicity is the capacity of a chemical or physical agent to cause such permanent changes.

      Natural Resources: Objects and entities in the material world considered by people to have utility or value, specifically including only those materials not produced through human industry.

      Navigable Waters: Traditionally, waters sufficiently deep and wide for navigation by all, or specified vessels; such waters in the United States come under federal jurisdiction and are protected by certain provisions of the Clean Water Act.

      Netting: A concept in which all emissions sources in the same area that owned or controlled by a single company are treated as one large source, thereby allowing flexibility in controlling individual sources in order to meet a single emissions standard.

      NIMBY: An acronym for “Not in My Backyard” that identifies the tendency for individuals and communities to oppose the siting of noxious or hazardous materials and activities in their vicinity. It implies a limited or parochial political vision of environmental justice.

      Nitrate: A compound containing nitrogen that can exist in the atmosphere or as a dissolved gas in water and which can have harmful effects on humans and animals. Nitrates in water can cause severe illness in infants and domestic animals. A plant nutrient and inorganic fertilizer, nitrate is found in septic systems, animal feed lots, agricultural fertilizers, manure, industrial waste waters, sanitary landfills, and garbage dumps.

      Nitrification: The process whereby ammonia in wastewater is oxidized to nitrite and then to nitrate by bacterial or chemical reactions.

      No Till: Planting crops without prior seedbed preparation, into an existing cover crop, sod, or crop residues, and eliminating subsequent tillage operations.

      Nonpoint Sources: Diffuse pollution sources (i.e. without a single point of origin or not introduced into a receiving stream from a specific outlet). The pollutants are generally carried off the land by storm water. Common nonpoint sources are agriculture, forestry, urban, mining, construction, dams, channels, land disposal, saltwater intrusion, and city streets.

      Nuclear Reactors and Support Facilities: Uranium mills, commercial power reactors, fuel reprocessing plants, and uranium enrichment facilities.

      Nuclear Winter: Prediction by some scientists that smoke and debris rising from massive fires of a nuclear war could block sunlight for weeks or months, cooling the earth's surface and producing climate changes that could, for example, negatively affect world agricultural and weather patterns.

      Nutrient: Any substance assimilated by living things that promotes growth. The term is generally applied to nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater, but is also applied to other essential and trace elements.

      Oil Spill: An accidental or intentional discharge of oil which reaches bodies of water. Can be controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment, and/or adsorption. Spills from tanks and pipelines can also occur away from water bodies, contaminating the soil, getting into sewer systems and threatening underground water sources.

      Open Dump: An uncovered site used for disposal of waste without environmental controls.

      Osmosis: The passage of a liquid from a weak solution to a more concentrated solution across a semipermeable membrane that allows passage of the solvent (water) but not the dissolved solids.

      Ozone (O3): Found in two layers of the atmosphere, the stratosphere and the troposphere. In the stratosphere (the atmospheric layer 7 to 10 miles or more above the earth's surface) ozone is a natural form of oxygen that provides a protective layer shielding the earth from ultraviolet radiation. In the troposphere (the layer extending up 7 to 10 miles from the earth's surface), ozone is a chemical oxidant and major component of photochemical smog. It can seriously impair the respiratory system and is one of the most widespread of all the criteria pollutants for which the Clean Air Act required EPA to set standards. Ozone in the troposphere is produced through complex chemical reactions of nitrogen oxides, which are among the primary pollutants emitted by combustion sources; hydrocarbons, released into the atmosphere through the combustion, handling and processing of petroleum products; and sunlight.

      Ozone Depletion: Destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer which shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation harmful to life. This destruction of ozone is caused by the breakdown of certain chlorine and/or bromine containing compounds (chlorofluorocarbons or halons), which break down when they reach the stratosphere and then catalytically destroy ozone molecules.

      Ozone Hole: A thinning break in the stratospheric ozone layer. Designation of amount of such depletion as an “ozone hole” is made when the detected amount of depletion exceeds 50 percent. Seasonal ozone holes have been observed over both the Antarctic and Arctic regions, part of Canada, and the extreme northeastern United States.

      Ozone Layer: The protective layer in the atmosphere, about 15 miles above the ground, that absorbs some of the sun's ultraviolet rays, thereby reducing the amount of potentially harmful radiation that reaches the earth's surface.

      Pandemic: A widespread epidemic throughout an area, nation or the world.

      Particulates: 1. Fine liquid or solid particles such as dust, smoke, mist, fumes, or smog, found in air or emissions. 2. Very small solids suspended in water; they can vary in size, shape, density and electrical charge and can be gathered together by coagulation and flocculation.

      Parts Per Billion (ppb)/Parts Per Million (ppm):

      Units commonly used to express contamination ratios, as in establishing the maximum permissible amount of a contaminant in water, land, or air.

      Pathogens: Microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses, or parasites) that can cause disease in humans, animals and plants.

      Peak Electricity Demand: The maximum electricity used to meet the cooling load of a building or buildings in a given area.

      Percolating Water: Water that passes through rocks or soil under the force of gravity.

      Percolation: 1. The movement of water downward and radially through subsurface soil layers, usually continuing downward to ground water. Can also involve upward movement of water. 2. Slow seepage of water through a filter.

      Permeability: The rate at which liquids pass through soil or other materials in a specified direction.

      Permit: An authorization, license, or equivalent control document issued by EPA or an approved state agency to implement the requirements of an environmental regulation; e.g., a permit to operate a wastewater treatment plant or to operate a facility that may generate harmful emissions.

      Persistence: Refers to the length of time a compound stays in the environment, once introduced. A compound may persist for less than a second or indefinitely.

      Pest: An insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed or other form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life that is injurious to health or the environment.

      Pesticide: Substances or mixture there of intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Also, any substance or mixture intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.

      Petroleum: Crude oil or any fraction thereof that is liquid under normal conditions of temperature and pressure. The term includes petroleum-based substances comprising a complex blend of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through the process of separation, conversion, upgrading, and finishing, such as motor fuel, jet oil, lubricants, petroleum solvents, and used oil.

      pH: An expression of the intensity of the basic or acid condition of a liquid; may range from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acid and 7 is neutral. Natural waters usually have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5.

      Photosynthesis: The manufacture by plants of carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide mediated by chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight.

      Plankton: Tiny plants and animals that live in water.

      Plastics: Nonmetallic chemoreactive compounds molded into rigid or pliable construction materials, fabrics, etc.

      Point Source: A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution; e.g., a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, factory smokestack.

      Political Ecology: A field of research concerned with the relationship of systems of social and economic power to environmental conditions, natural resources, and conservation.

      Pollen: The fertilizing element of flowering plants; background air pollutant.

      Pollutant: Generally, any substance introduced into the environment that adversely affects the usefulness of a resource or the health of humans, animals, or ecosystems.

      Pollution: Generally, the presence of a substance in the environment that because of its chemical composition or quantity prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, the term has been defined as the man-made or man-induced alteration of the physical, biological, chemical, and radiological integrity of water and other media.

      Polychlorinated Biphenyls: A group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in electrical transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes, and in gas pipeline systems as lubricant. The sale and new use of these chemicals, also known as PCBs, were banned by law in 1979.

      Population at Risk: A population subgroup that is more likely to be exposed to a chemical, or is more sensitive to the chemical, than is the general population.

      Porosity: Degree to which soil, gravel, sediment, or rock is permeated with pores or cavities through which water or air can move.

      Postcolonialism: An analytical approach to explaining the persisting conditions of exploitation and domination between historical colonial powers and previously colonized parts of the globe. From this perspective colonial habits, power relations, and ways of thinking remain ingrained in current scientific, political and economic relationships.

      Precautionary Principle: When information about potential risks is incomplete, basing decisions about the best ways to manage or reduce risks on a preference for avoiding unnecessary health risks instead of on unnecessary economic expenditures.

      Primary Waste Treatment: First steps in wastewater treatment; screens and sedimentation tanks are used to remove most materials that float or will settle. Primary treatment removes about 30 percent of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand from domestic sewage.

      Prior Appropriation: A doctrine of water law that allocates the rights to use water on a first-come, first-served basis.

      Producers: Plants that perform photosynthesis and provide food to consumers.

      Proteins: Complex nitrogenous organic compounds of high molecular weight made of amino acids; essential for growth and repair of animal tissue. Many, but not all, proteins are enzymes.

      Protozoa: One-celled animals that are larger and more complex than bacteria. May cause disease.

      Public Water System: A system that provides piped water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or regularly serves 25 individuals.

      Radioactive Decay: Spontaneous change in an atom by emission of of charged particles and/or gamma rays; also known as radioactive disintegration and radioactivity.

      Radioactive Waste: Waste that emits energy as rays, waves, streams or energetic particles. Radioactive materials are often mixed with hazardous waste, from nuclear reactors, research institutions, or hospitals.

      Radon: A colorless naturally occurring, radioactive, inert gas formed by radioactive decay of radium atoms in soil or rocks.

      Rational Choice Theory: A theory of individual decision-making that views human actions as motivated by seeking the most benefit for the least coast.

      Recombinant DNA: The new DNA that is formed by combining pieces of DNA from different organisms or cells.

      Recycle/Reuse: Minimizing waste generation by recovering and reprocessing usable products that might otherwise become waste (i.e., recycling of aluminum cans, paper, and bottles, etc.)

      Red Tide: A proliferation of a marine plankton toxic and often fatal to fish, perhaps stimulated by the addition of nutrients. A tide can be red, green, or brown, depending on the coloration of the plankton.

      Reforestation: Conversion of land to forest cover on deforested land.

      Remote Sensing: The collection and interpretation of information about an object without physical contact with the object; e.g., satellite imaging, aerial photography, and open path measurements.

      Reservoir: Any natural or artificial holding area used to store, regulate, or control water.

      Residential Use: Pesticide application in and around houses, office buildings, apartment buildings, motels, and other living or working areas.

      Residential Waste: Waste generated in single and multi-family homes, including newspapers, clothing, disposable tableware, food packaging, cans, bottles, food scraps, and yard trimmings other than those that are diverted to backyard composting.

      Reuse: Using a product or component of municipal solid waste in its original form more than once; e.g., refilling a glass bottle that has been returned or using a coffee can to hold nuts and bolts.

      Reverse Osmosis: A treatment process used in water systems by adding pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane. Reverse osmosis removes most drinking water contaminants. Also used in wastewater treatment. Large-scale reverse osmosis plants are being developed.

      Ribonucleic Acid (RNA): A molecule that carries the genetic message from DNA to a cellular proteinproducing mechanism.

      Riparian Habitat: Areas adjacent to rivers and streams with a differing density, diversity, and productivity of plant and animal species relative to nearby uplands.

      Riparian Rights: Entitlement of a land owner to certain uses of water on or bordering the property, including the right to prevent diversion or misuse of upstream waters. Generally a matter of state law.

      Risk Assessment: Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the risk posed to human health and/or the environment by the actual or potential presence and/or use of specific pollutants.

      Risk Communication: The exchange of information about health or environmental risks among risk assessors and managers, the general public, news media, interest groups, etc.

      Risk Management: The process of evaluating and selecting alternative regulatory and non-regulatory responses to risk. The selection process necessarily requires the consideration of legal, economic, and behavioral factors.

      Risk: A measure of the probability that damage to life, health, property, and/or the environment will occur as a result of a given hazard.

      River Basin: The land area drained by a river and its tributaries.

      Rodenticide: A chemical or agent used to destroy rats or other rodent pests, or to prevent them from damaging food, crops, etc.

      Sanitation: Control of physical factors in the human environment that could harm development, health, or survival.

      Secondary Treatment: The second step in most publicly owned waste treatment systems in which bacteria consume the organic parts of the waste. It is accomplished by bringing together waste, bacteria, and oxygen in trickling filters or in the activated sludge process. This treatment removes floating and settleable solids and about 90 percent of the oxygen-demanding substances and suspended solids. Disinfection is the final stage of secondary treatment.

      Sediments: Soil, sand, and minerals washed from land into water, usually after rain. They pile up in reservoirs, rivers and harbors, destroying fish and wildlife habitat, and clouding the water so that sunlight cannot reach aquatic plants. Careless farming, mining, and building activities will expose sediment materials, allowing them to wash off the land after rainfall.

      Senescence: The aging process. Sometimes used to describe lakes or other bodies of water in advanced stages of eutrophication. Also used to describe plants and animals.

      Septic System: An on-site system designed to treat and dispose of domestic sewage. A typical septic system consists of tank that receives waste from a residence or business and a system of tile lines or a pit for disposal of the liquid effluent (sludge) that remains after decomposition of the solids by bacteria in the tank and must be pumped out periodically.

      Sewage: The waste and wastewater produced by residential and commercial sources and discharged into sewers.

      Sewer: A channel or conduit that carries wastewater and storm-water runoff from the source to a treatment plant or receiving stream. “Sanitary” sewers carry household, industrial, and commercial waste. “Storm” sewers carry runoff from rain or snow. “Combined” sewers handle both.

      Sick Building Syndrome: Building whose occupants experience acute health and/or comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent therein, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may spread throughout the building.

      Silviculture: Management of forest land for timber.

      Sludge: A semi-solid residue from any of a number of air or water treatment processes; can be a hazardous waste.

      Smog: Air pollution typically associated with oxidants.

      Smoke: Particles suspended in air after incomplete combustion.

      Soil and Water Conservation Practices: Control measures consisting of managerial, vegetative, and structural practices to reduce the loss of soil and water.

      Soil Moisture: The water contained in the pore space of the unsaturated zone.

      Solid Waste: Nonliquid, nonsoluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Solid wastes also include sewage sludge, agricultural refuse, demolition wastes, and mining residues. Technically, solid waste also refers to liquids and gases in containers.

      Species: 1. A reproductively isolated aggregate of interbreeding organisms having common attributes and usually designated by a common name. 2. An organism belonging to belonging to such a category.

      Sprawl: Unplanned development of open land.

      Spring: Ground water seeping out of the earth where the water table intersects the ground surface.

      Stakeholder: Any organization, governmental entity, or individual that has a stake in or may be impacted by a given approach to environmental regulation, pollution prevention, energy conservation, etc.

      Stratification: Separating into layers.

      Stratigraphy: Study of the formation, composition, and sequence of sediments, whether consolidated or not.

      Stratosphere: The portion of the atmosphere 10-to25 miles above the earth's surface.

      Structural Adjustment: A set of policies, typically imposed by multilateral lending agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during a national financial crisis, which imposes restrictions on government trade regulations, subsidies, and labor/environmental standards.

      Surface Runoff: Precipitation, snow melt, or irrigation water in excess of what can infiltrate the soil surface and be stored in small surface depressions; a major transporter of nonpoint source pollutants in rivers, streams, and lakes.

      Surface Water: All water naturally open to the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, impoundments, seas, estuaries, etc.).

      Suspended Solids: Small particles of solid pollutants that float on the surface of, or are suspended in, sewage or other liquids. They resist removal by conventional means.

      Swamp: A type of wetland dominated by woody vegetation but without appreciable peat deposits. Swamps may be fresh or salt water and tidal or nontidal.

      Systemic Pesticide: A chemical absorbed by an organism that interacts with the organism and makes the organism toxic to pests.

      Tailings: Residue of raw material or waste separated out during the processing of crops or mineral ores.

      Tailpipe Standards: Emissions limitations applicable to mobile source engine exhausts.

      Technology-Based Standards: Industry-specific effluent limitations applicable to direct and indirect sources which are developed on a category-by-category basis using statutory factors, not including water-quality effects.

      Teratogenesis: The introduction of nonhereditary birth defects in a developing fetus by exogenous factors such as physical or chemical agents acting in the womb to interfere with normal embryonic development.

      Tertiary Treatment: Advanced cleaning of wastewater that goes beyond the secondary or biological stage, removing nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and most BOD and suspended solids.

      Tidal Marsh: Low, flat marshlands traversed by channels and tidal hollows, subject to tidal inundation; normally, the only vegetation present is salttolerant bushes and grasses.

      Tillage: Plowing, seedbed preparation, and cultivation practices.

      Topography: The physical features of a surface area including relative elevations and the position of natural and man-made (anthropogenic) features.

      Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): All material that passes the standard glass river filter; now called total filtrable residue. Term is used to reflect salinity.

      Toxic Release Inventory: Database of toxic releases in the United States compiled from SARA Title III Section 313 reports.

      Toxic Waste: A waste that can produce injury if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.

      Toxicity: The degree to which a substance or mixture of substances can harm humans or animals. Acute toxicity involves harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure. Chronic toxicity is the ability of a substance or mixture of substances to cause harmful effects over an extended period, usually upon repeated or continuous exposure sometimes lasting for the entire life of the exposed organism. Subchronic toxicity is the ability of the substance to cause effects for more than one year but less than the lifetime of the exposed organism.

      Transmissivity: The ability of an aquifer to transmit water.

      Transpiration: The process by which water vapor is lost to the atmosphere from living plants. The term can also be applied to the quantity of water thus dissipated.

      Treatment Plant: A structure built to treat wastewater before discharging it into the environment.

      Trust Fund (CERCLA): A fund set up under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to help pay for cleanup of hazardous waste sites and for legal action to force those responsible for the sites to clean them up.

      Tundra: A type of treeless ecosystem dominated by lichens, mosses, grasses, and woody plants. Tundra is found at high latitudes (arctic tundra) and high altitudes (alpine tundra). Arctic tundra is underlain by permafrost and is usually water saturated.

      Ultraviolet Rays: Radiation from the sun that can be useful or potentially harmful. UV rays from one part of the spectrum (UV-A) enhance plant life. UV rays from other parts of the spectrum (UV-B) can cause skin cancer or other tissue damage. The ozone layer in the atmosphere partly shields us from ultraviolet rays reaching the earth's surface.

      Underground Storage Tank (UST): A tank located at least partially underground and designed to hold gasoline or other petroleum products or chemicals.

      Unsaturated Zone: The area above the water table where soil pores are not fully saturated, although some water may be present.

      Urban Runoff: Storm water from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that carries pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and receiving waters.

      User Fee: Fee collected from only those persons who use a particular service, as compared to one collected from the public in general.

      Vadose Zone: The zone between land surface and the water table within which the moisture content is less than saturation (except in the capillary fringe) and pressure is less than atmospheric. Soil pore space also typically contains air or other gases. The capillary fringe is included in the vadose zone.

      Value-added: A procedure that increases the worth of a product or raw material through transformation and processing.

      Vapor: The gas given off by substances that are solids or liquids at ordinary atmospheric pressure and temperatures.

      Vector: 1. An organism, often an insect or rodent, that carries disease. 2. Plasmids, viruses, or bacteria used to transport genes into a host cell. A gene is placed in the vector; the vector then “infects” the bacterium.

      Viscosity: The molecular friction within a fluid that produces flow resistance.

      Volatile: Any substance that evaporates readily.

      Waste Generation: The weight or volume of materials and products that enter the waste stream before recycling, composting, landfilling, or combustion takes place. Also can represent the amount of waste generated by a given source or category of sources.

      Waste Treatment Plant: A facility containing a series of tanks, screens, filters and other processes by which pollutants are removed from water.

      Waste: 1. Unwanted materials left over from a manufacturing process. 2. Refuse from places of human or animal habitation.

      Waste-to-Energy Facility/Municipal-Waste Combustor: Facility where recovered municipal solid waste is converted into a usable form of energy, usually via combustion.

      Wastewater: The spent or used water from a home, community, farm, or industry that contains dissolved or suspended matter.

      Water Pollution: The presence in water of enough harmful or objectionable material to damage the water's quality.

      Water Supplier: One who owns or operates a public water system.

      Water Supply System: The collection, treatment, storage, and distribution of potable water from source to consumer.

      Water Table: The level of groundwater.

      Water Well: An excavation where the intended use is for location, acquisition, development, or artificial recharge of ground water.

      Watershed Approach: A coordinated framework for environmental management that focuses public and private efforts on the highest priority problems within hydrologically-defined geographic areas taking into consideration ground and surface flow.

      Watershed: The land area that drains into a stream; the watershed for a major river may encompass a number of smaller watersheds that ultimately combine at a common point.

      Weight of Scientific Evidence: Considerations in assessing the interpretation of published information about toxicity—quality of testing methods, size and power of study design, consistency of results across studies, and biological plausibility of exposure-response relationships and statistical associations.

      Weir: 1. A wall or plate placed in an open channel to measure the flow of water. 2. A wall or obstruction used to control flow from settling tanks and clarifiers to ensure a uniform flow rate and avoid short-circuiting.

      Well: A bored, drilled, or driven shaft, or a dug hole whose depth is greater than the largest surface dimension and whose purpose is to reach underground water supplies or oil, or to store or bury fluids below ground.

      Wetlands: An area that is saturated by surface or ground water with vegetation adapted for life under those soil conditions, as swamps, bogs, fens, marshes, and estuaries.

      Wildlife Refuge: An area designated for the protection of wild animals, within which hunting and fishing are either prohibited or strictly controlled.

      Xenobiota: Any biotum displaced from its normal habitat; a chemical foreign to a biological system.

      Yard Waste: The part of solid waste composed of grass clippings, leaves, twigs, branches, and other garden refuse.

      Yield: The quantity of water (expressed as a rate of flow or total quantity per year) that can be collected for a given use from surface or groundwater sources.

      Zooplankton: Small (often microscopic) free-floating aquatic plants or animals.



      Environment statistics covering a range of issues related to Water, Air, Waste and Land, are compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The data are official data supplied by national statistical offices and/or ministries of environment (or equivalent institutions) in countries in response to a biennial UNSD/UNEP questionnaire, sent out in March 2004. They are supplemented by data taken from UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) for data on greenhouse gas emissions, and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, for data on water resources. Data from OECD countries and from most European countries are taken from OECD and from Eurostat. For land area, agricultural area and forest area, all data are from FAO, awaiting the results of an in-depth analysis of the differences between FAO data and country data sent to UNSD/UNEP.

      Results show that environment statistics is still in an early stage of development in many countries, and data are often sparse. Information on the data quality and comparability is given at the end of each table.

      Data are provided for the following topics:


      Water resources Public water supply Waste water


      Climate Change

      Greenhouse gas emissions CO2 emissions CH4 and N2O emissions

      Municipal waste collection Municipal waste treatment Hazardous waste

      Air Pollution

      SO2 emissions NOx emissions

      Land Use

      Area of country Forest area Agricultural land

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