Eco-Vocab: Divestment

eco_vocab_logo_03Divestment: In finance and economics, divestment or divestiture is the reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.

The divestment campaign of the mid 1980s, which took money out of companies who dealt with apartheid South Africa, put pressure on the South African Government to embark on negotiations ultimately leading to the dismantling of the apartheid system.

Today, the divestment movement is aiming to fight climate change. The movement took off in the fall 0f 2012 with colleges and universities divesting from fossil fuel companies that own the majority of global carbon reserves. Continue reading

Eco-Vocab: Phantom Power

Phantom power: Also known as “vampire power” or “phantom load”; refers to the power drawn by appliances and electronics even when they’re switched off or not in use. By one estimate, U.S. residents spend $1 billion per year on it.

The most likely culprits are appliances that can be operated with a remote control, or have power clocks or timers with miscellaneous LED status lights. Common phantom energy wasters include TVs, microwave clocks, DVD displays, telephones, and computers. Continue reading

Eco-Vocab: Bridge Fuel

Bridge fuel: Natural gas has been referred to as a bridge fuel, meaning that while it is a cleaner alternative to imported oil, it is not a permanent solution. Natural gas is a temporary fix to help slash our oil dependence while buying time to develop renewable, low-carbon technologies that will ultimately replace fossil transportation fuels.

The belief is that by investing in alternative energies while utilizing natural gas for transportation and energy, the US can decrease its dependence on foreign oil and develop the cutting-edge know-how to make wind and solar technology more viable. Continue reading

Eco Vocab: Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint: A measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions that a product, service or lifestyle produces, all of which contribute to global warming.

Want to know how much carbon you and/or your household is emitting? Click on The Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator to measure your impact on our climate.

The carbon footprint calculator estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year. Continue reading

Eco Vocab: Food Miles

Food Miles estimate certain aspects of the environmental costs directly associated with a food’s transport from farmer to consumer. Food miles are one factor considered when measuring the impact of global warming.

How your food is grown, stored, transported, processed and cooked can all influence how it impacts climate change and the environment.

Buying food that is produced locally is good for several reasons. Buying directly from family farmers in your area helps them stay in business. And by buying local, it means that your food isn’t traveling long distances by planes, trains, trucks, and ships, which all consume energy and spew pollution that contributes to global warming and unhealthy air quality. Plus, you get the added benefit of what many chefs say is better tasting food on your table. Continue reading

Eco-Vocab: Fracking

Fracking: Hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. The problem with fracking is that it has the potential to contaminate ground water, as well as add tons of pollutants to the air.

Also, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in the United States, Japan, and Canada.

Read more about fracking here. And here.

Eco-Vocab: GMO

GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.

Genetically modified foods (GM) are food sources that have been genetically altered for a number of different reasons. Those reasons include making fruit and veggies larger and seedless as well as making them resistant to certain kinds of pesticides.

Genetically modified foods were first put on the market in 1996. The most common genetically modified foods include soybeans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and papaya. Continue reading