The soils, sediments, and rock layers of the Earth's crust, both continental and beneath the ocean floors.

Global Warming

Strictly speaking, global warming and global cooling refer to the natural warming and cooling trends that the Earth has experienced all through its history. However, the term usually refers to the gradual rise in the Earth's temperatures that could result from the accumulated gases that are trapped in the atmosphere.


The change in a property over a certain distance. For example, lead can accumulate in surface soil near a road due to automobile exhaust. As you move away from the road, the amount of lead in the surface soil decreases. This change in the lead concentration with distance from the road is called a gradient.

Greenhouse effect

A warming of the Earth's atmosphere caused by the presence in the atmosphere of certain heat-trapping gases (e.g., water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane). These gases absorb radiation emitted by the Earth, thereby retarding the loss of energy from the system to space. The greenhouse effect has been a property of Earth's atmosphere for millions of years and is responsible for maintaining the Earth's surface at a temperature that makes it habitable for human beings. An Enhanced Greenhouse Effect is when the increased concentrations of these gases are "enhancing" the natural greenhouse effect. It is the "enhanced greenhouse effect" that is expected to cause a large and rapid rise in average global temperatures.

Greenhouse gases

Those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and artificial, that absorb and reemit infrared radiation and that are responsible for global warming. The most potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is rapidly accumulating in the atmosphere due to human activities.


is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice. Greenwashing can make a company appear to be more environmentally friendly than it really is.

Gross National Product (GNP)

The total market value of all the goods and services produced by a nation during a specific period of time.

Ground-level ozone (tropospheric ozone)

Ozone (O3) that occurs near the surface of the Earth. In pollution it causes concern because of its toxic effects.


The supply of fresh water found beneath the earth's surface (usually in aquifers) which is often accessed through wells and springs.

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