Terra Environment Dictionary — C

Terra Environment Dictionary is a resource of words, terms and phrases related to environmentalism, as defined by society.

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1. A chemical element that occurs in pure states as diamond and graphite, and in an impure state as charcoal. It forms organic compounds, most commonly with hydrogen and oxygen.
2. Used as an umbrella term to describe carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds that are greenhouse gases.

carbon footprint

The total carbon emissions of an activity, individual, corporation or country.


Pertaining to or having achieved a state of net zero carbon emissions, by balancing emissions with actions to reduce or offset these emissions (carbon offsetting).
A common misnomer, as “offsetting”, more often than not, does not mean taking carbon out of the atmosphere. For example, one way of carbon offsetting is investing in wind farms, which is a source of clean energy. However, if the energy generated from the wind farms are an addition to—and not a replacement of—energy from fossil fuels, no reduction, much less removal, of carbon is achieved.

carbon sequestration

The capture and storage of atmospheric carbon through natural or artificial processes. There are three types: ocean (stored in water bodies), geologic (stored in natural pore spaces in geologic formations) and terrestrial (stored in soil and vegetation) sequestration.

carbon sink

A natural reservoir that absorbs and stores more atmospheric carbon than it releases.


1. A dairy product derived from the curd of milk, usually from cows.
2. The third largest per-unit carbon emitter among food proteins, behind lamb and beef, and ahead of pork, salmon and chicken. One kilogram of cheese requires up to ten kilograms of milk to produce, emitting ten kilograms of carbon dioxide in the process.


1. A domestic fowl of the subspecies Gallus gallus domesticus, carefully bred and genetically engineered to grow (to be slaughtered for meat), or produce eggs, rapidly for human consumption.
2. Cowardly.

clean energy

Energy generated for human use that does not pollute the environment.
related: sustainable energy


The composite weather conditions of a region, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness and winds, usually affected by its latitude, terrain, altitude, proximity to bodies of water (or ice).

climate change

Long-term change in the Earth’s climate, especially due to an increase in average atmospheric temperature (global warming).

climate crisis

Severe climate change, describing the human-induced global issue threatening the survival of humanity and all life on Earth.

climate refugee

People who are forced to abandon and flee their homes, either temporarily or permanently, as a result of environmental disruption or destruction caused by climate change.

coral bleaching

An event when corals expel the symbiotic algae (the source of corals’ food and colour) living in their tissues due to unfavourable changes in conditions such as warming ocean temperatures, excessive sunlight and pollution, causing them to starve and turn completely white. A bleached coral is not dead and can recover fully after favourable conditions return, but will die if unfavourable conditions are sustained over time.


1. A four-legged ungulate (or hoofed mammal) of the subfamily Bovinae.
2. Said animal domesticated and raised as livestock, to produce beef, milk and leather for human consumption.
3. The most significant contributor of human-caused emissions of methane (34 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide) and nitrous oxide (over 300 times more potent).
related: cattle

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