The challenge of climate change has produced a whole new vocabulary of jargon ~ terms and acronyms that are thrown around, which are not understood by most of us.

So we’d like to share this list of terms and their meanings that were drawn up by Kate Yoder, who is an editor on Grist, a nonprofit environmental news site.

Reduce your carbon footprint ~ once you know what this means
  • Carbon footprint: How much carbon-dioxide emissions can you attribute to a country, company, or maybe your neighbour? The answer is their carbon footprint.
  • Circular economy: A system where nothing really gets thrown away. In other words, your old smartphone gets broken up into its different parts and recycled — or more likely, you’re repairing it.
  • Climate adaptationImproving our ability to cope with climate change. Think building sea walls, breeding crops that can tolerate droughts, and restoring the natural course of rivers.
  • Environmental justice: A phrase underscoring the broad idea that the people who did the least to cause climate change and pollution are the often the most at risk from the consequences.
  • Just transition: Shifting to an economy that runs on solar and wind energy without killing jobs.
  • Geoengineering: Using technology to try to counteract some of the warming caused by burning coal, oil, and gas. Like spraying tiny particles in the air to reflect the sunlight back into space so it doesn’t heat up the planet.
  • Net-zero: Cancelling out the carbon dioxide we emit by making sure that the same amount gets sucked up by trees, plants, machines, or other things. (See: Offset.)
  • Offset: Something you buy that promises to cancel some or all of the carbon dioxide produced by, say, your next cross-country flight.
  • Resilience: Our ability to deal with climate change’s effects. Simply put, a more resilient New York City will be better able to withstand another Superstorm Sandy.
  • Sustainable: Using a resource in a way that won’t deplete it. Example: Making sure a forest has a bunch of new trees growing before you cut down an old one.

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