Ecopedia

Ecomedia Letter: b

Bagasse

Fiber that remains after juice is extracted from sugar cane, a renewable resource. Uses include fuel, paper pulp, and insulated disposable food containers, as an alternative to Styrofoam.

Bamboo

One of the most versatile and highly renewable plants, bamboo is used for food, all manner of building and construction materials, textile and fabric, design, even fragrance and more uses are being found daily for this remarkable natural resource.

Barter

The exchange of products or services without the use of money.

Battery Technology

Batteries are a way of storing energy, usually in a chemical form to use away from the original power source. Advances in technology mean batteries are becoming increasingly efficient, able to be re-charged more and able to power more types of technology such as cars.

Bicycle

A vehicle powered by pedals and feet, this is one of the most earth-friendly, healthy and efficient ways to get around many cities. However, if you choose this method of transportation in cities such as Hong Kong, be sure to wear a mask against the heavy traffic fumes, at least until everyone else starts biking too. And don't forget your helmet!

Bio Gas

A gas and energy source that is made from organic materials breaking down without oxygen present, forming a combination of gases ranging from methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide depending on the process and input materials. It is used on a variety of scales, from small farms using animal waste to large landfills creating electricity to power small towns.

BioAccumulate

The accumulation of a substance in an organism over time, for example, pesticides in farmers, heavy metals in fish, and factory chemicals in workers.

Bioaccumulation

The build up over time of a chemical in an organism. This phenomenon is dangerous when seen with toxic chemicals such as those found in pesticides. In mammals such as whales, it has been documented to be stored in fat which is passed from mother to baby through milk, slowly feeding the baby toxic chemicals.

BioChar

Charcoal from biological materials, but is not used for a fuel source. It is instead used to enrich soils with carbon. The atmosphere benefits as well with less carbon, thereby reducing carbon's impact as a greenhouse gas.

Biodegradable

Capable of being broken down over time by microorganisms into compounds that are harmless to the environment.

Biodiesel

Diesel fuel made from clean burning, renewable organic compounds rather than from non-renewable raw materials that pollute and use non-renewable resources. These can be derived from vegetable oil and algae.

Biodiversity

The variety and number of different organisms in a given region or environment. It covers the number of different species as well as the genetic diversity within a species. Short for Biological Diversity.

Biodynamic Agriculture

A holistic method of farming that treats the land, animals and crops as parts of a complete organism, emphasizing organic and holistic "treatments" to regulate and balance all the components so that they can self-sustain.

Biofuel

Fuel derived from renewable organic compounds rather than from non-renewable raw materials that pollute and use non-renewable resources. Examples of biofuels include ethanol, methanol and biodiesel.

Biomass

Used to refer to any biological matter made of living or recently dead organisms, often with reference to its use as a renewable energy source.

Bioplastic

Any plastic derived from a renewable, organic resource such as corn or potato starch, as an alternative to conventional plastic which is made from petroleum. Bioplastics have the added benefit of being biodegradable and compostable.

Biosphere

The part of the earth where we and all other animals, plants and everything else alive live. The global ecosystem.

Biotechnology

The use of biological components such as microorganisms to perform mechanical or industrial processes.

Black Market

The trade in illegal goods. The black market operates outside of government regulation and international law. Endangered species and blood diamonds are examples of black market products.

Blackwater

Used to describe sewage or any water containing the real yucky stuff, i.e. human waste.

Blood diamond

AKA conflict diamond. A diamond that is mined from an area where the sale finances the continuation of war, conflict or warlord activity. The mines are often run with little regard for human rights, workers' rights or safety. The United Nations has introduced the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, to attempt to legitimize diamonds that are conflict-free.

Brown Cloud

Huge layers of pollution that cover large areas. They are generated by massive areas of manufacturing, industry, traffic and fires. They not only affect the area where it is generated but can drift around the world causing pollution thousands of miles away. The Asian brown cloud has travelled across the Pacific affecting the Eastern US. Ironically, while causing pollution, they may actually help reduce the heating up of the climate by limiting solar radiation, although if the sediment in clouds settles on snow or ic,e it may increase its rate of melting.

Brownfield

An area of land that has been contaminated by past industrial use.

Buy Local

Buying food and products from local sources instead of those imported from far away not only creates a lower carbon footprint but supports your local economy and ensures that the food you put on your dinner table is fresh and in season.

By catch

What is brought up in fishing nets that is not the target species for fishing. The majority of other species that are caught are thrown back damaged or dead. Turtles, dolphins, other fish and even coral are all victims of by catch. Some nets are designed to free some by catch animals. Also see Turtle Exclusion Devices.

BYOB

Bring Your Own Bag. By bringing your own bag you limit the chance of plastic bags ending up in landfill or being swept into drains which can make flooding worse.

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