Ecopedia

Ecomedia Letter: t

Technology

Any tool we use to get something done. Technology is improving by leaps and bounds, and although we might not feel it in modern life, we are still very connected to the earth for our daily needs of food, water and shelter. Will we be able to solve the manmade problems of climate change, pollution and poverty through technology? Only time will tell, but in a world where more than half the people alive have never used a computer, it seems doubtful that technology can be taken up on such a scale to counteract natural forces that have been the ultimate engineers for centuries.

Thermal Pollution

When heat enters the environment through gas or water. Changing the temperature of water drastically changes what species can live there, as well as the oxygen levels. It is usually a negative thing, but in some regions of the Southern USA, thermal pollution from power plants actually created more habitat for endangered manatees (sea cows).

Tidal Energy

Energy generated by the motion of the tides.

Tipping Point

The point in a process of building up to an event at which the end event can not be stopped from occurring. Think of someone tipping on a chair back and forth until at some point they tip too far and can not stop the fall backwards to the ground. The term has been used in connection to global warming in terms of how many parts per million of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. The tipping point for global warming is debated to be between 350 to 450ppm, and at the time of writing this it was at 388 ppm. We all hope that we can claw our way back from this tipping point!

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF)

Paper that does not use any chlorine in the bleaching and whitening of it. It is more environmentally friendly, as chlorine is a very harmful chemical in the environment, particularly to marine life forms.

Toxin

A substance that is poisonous to life. The degree to which it is dangerous to life varies, for example yummy cinnamon is a common spice but is toxic in very large quantities, while only a little bit of mercury is very toxic to life.

Traditional Knowledge

The knowledge that indigenous people have from their culture and from living close to nature. The knowledge may not always be able to be expressed in the same terms or frames as other knowledge. It holds great significance to indigenous ways of life and cultural values.

Tragedy of the Commons

The idea that, given a shared resource, it is in the best interest of each individual to use that resource, to an extent that is unsustainable for everyone to do. This is because the negative impact of doing so is shared equally with all so it works out better for the individual in the short term to deplete that resource. For example the benefit of driving a private car benefits one person hugely, while the negative impacts of air pollution is shared among everyone, so the impact of destroying a shared resource is shared, and therefore a disincentive for individuals to stop destructive behavior.

Train & Rail

A form of public transportation that can often be better for the environment to use than private transportation. Hopping onto a train, whether it be a short ride in the city or a long distance cross country voyage, is a great way to kick back and enjoy the ride in an environmentally friendly way.

Transportation

How we get ourselves and goods around. Most forms of transport produce greenhouse gases and other pollutants, so try to use more public transport, walking or cycling and support other forms of Green Transport. Also be aware of how far the goods you buy have travelled.

Trawling

A method of fishing that involves dragging a large net along the bottom of the ocean. Its land-based equivalent is trying to catch cows with two helicopters and net and picking up the trees, birds, dogs, fences and farm house along too. Trawling is particularly destructive as it is indiscriminate in what it picks up from under the water and brings up a lot of unwanted by-catch, which often dies or is damaged as a result.

Tree hugging

A slang term for those in the environmental movement. Loving a tree to the extent of giving it a hug seemed to have started out as an insult, but in light of people who have gone as far as to live in trees for months at a time in an effort to stop logging, a hug really seems quite mild!

Triple Bottom Line

Taking social, environmental and economic priorities into decision making. Also shortened to 1. People 2. Planet 3. Profit. It is a way of going about activities and business that aims to balance business' usual focus on financial terms in line with priorities of greater importance to society as a whole.

Turtle Exclusion Device

Devices fixed to the end of fishing nets that allow turtles to escape when caught, and the fish to stay caught. This device is a great tool to reduce by-catch, and potential harm or death to these gentle giants of the sea.

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