Before we get started, let’s put some terms on the table

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By Nathaniel Crouch

Certain terms will come up often in The Crisis Issue. While you think you have a basic understanding, in-depth definitions are useful for how often they’ll be mentioned. 

Global warming

Our planet’s climate system has an average temperature. That average temperature is on a steady rise. Global warming is the long-term rise in our planet’s average temperature.

Climate change

Changes in global or regional climate patterns are a natural thing that happens on our planet as it spins on. But “climate change” in particular refers to the change apparent from the mid-to-late 20th century onward and is largely attributed to the increased levels of carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

The climate crisis

It’s right now. You’re actively reading this during a crisis. Its name is to grab people’s attention. On Oct. 2, Toronto officially declared a climate emergency. 

Greenhouse gas emissions

A greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming. Therefore, anything that releases carbon dioxide into the air increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Urbanization

When a population grows, it may spill over from a city to nearby areas leading to more businesses and residential buildings. This is called urbanization and more commonly known as urban sprawl. 

Environmental degradation

Our environments face destruction through the decline in quality of natural resources such as air, water and soil. This degradation is caused by the destruction of ecosystems, habitat destruction, the extinction of wildlife and pollution.

Environmental sustainability

This term has varying definitions depending on where you look. In broad terms, environmental sustainability is the responsible interaction with the environment to avoid depletion or complete loss of natural resources. It allows for the long-term health of our environment.

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