Ecomedia Letter: a

Acid Rain

Rain or any other form of precipitation that is polluted by acid. It is harmful to you, me, plants and sea life, as well as buildings and other structures. The acid is created by the transformation of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides to acidic particles in the atmosphere. The main sources of these pollutants are vehicles and power-generating plants.


The practice of using action to achieve a result; particularly in support of, or opposition to, a social, environmental, political or economic change.


The ability to to cater to changes in the environment. The ability to adapt is a skill that will favor many species as humans alter their habitat in many ways. Species that can not adapt to huge threats such as global climate change may face extinction. People too may be forced to adapt as rises in temperature alter seal levels, weather patterns and landscapes.


Generally refers to an aerosol spray can or product. Most modern aerosol products use alternative propellants that are safer for the environment than the ozone-destroying CFCs used previously. However, aerosol cans still pose risks for safety and the environment.


Big business models pertaining to agriculture and farming.

Air Barrier

Any product that helps control air leakage into and out of a building. Also known as air flow retarder. This can include drywall and insulation materials, exterior wraps, etc.

Air Pollution Index (API)

A way of rating the amount of air pollution on a daily basis, used in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. It is based on five different contributors to air pollution, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and suspended particulates.

Air Travel

Travel via aircraft. The quickest way to travel long distances, but unfortunately also the quickest way for an individual to leave a huge carbon footprint.

Al Gore

Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He starred in the 2006 Oscar Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. He has been involved in environmental issues as an advocate for climate protection for many years.


Rootless chlorophyll-based aquatic plant that provides food for fish and small sea life. It happens to be full of potent nutrients for people too, particularly the species Spirulina, widely considered a super food for its high concentration of amino acids and other good stuff.

Alternative Energy

Generally refers to energy sources other than conventional sources of fossil fuels, such as solar and wind energy, that are renewable and environmentally friendly. These not only create less pollution but are necessary developments in the face of the Earth's quickly depleting supply of fossil fuels (e.g. oil, natural gas, coal).

Alternative Fuel

Fuel from a source other than the conventional sources (fossil fuels, coal, propane, natural gas), which are nonrenewable and associated with global warming. Some alternative fuels include biodiesel, hydrogen, ethanol and vegetable oil, with more being developed all the time. Also known as non-conventional fuel or advanced fuel.

Alternative Transportation

Any mode of transportation that reduces environmental impact: walking, bicycling, carpooling or public transit. Rather than airplane, consider boat, train or bus. There are many ways to get from A to B; it's smart to consider every alternative in terms of your impact on the planet.

Ancient Forest

A forest that has attained great age (usually over 200 years) and contains large and ancient trees and diverse plant and animal life. Their dense canopies are home to many endangered species. Ancient forests are threatened with destruction by excessive logging as they can take hundreds of years to recover. Also known as old-growth or primeval forest.

Ancient Forest Friendly

Ancient Forest Friendly papers are free of ancient forest fiber and contain 100 percent recycled fiber or 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) virgin fiber, or a combination thereof.


Anyone who has had a friend as a pet will tell you that it is not such a big leap from people to animals. Animals and pets may have strong personalities but they can not speak, write or vote, so it is up to people to do it. Learning about problems and issues of animal rights and pets is a great way to get people's actions to change.


The southernmost continent on Earth, about 98% covered by ice and home to a unique assortment of marine wildlife and plants as well as penguins and seals. There are no permanent human residents, but tourism and scientific research bring thousands a year to its icy shores. As global warming rises, this pristine continent is in grave danger, as is the rest of the world with ice-shelves breaking off and causing sea levels to rise at an alarming rate.


The region around the North Pole, this unique ecosystem consists of deep ocean covered by drifting pack ice. One of Earth's last pristine regions, it is home to a vast array of sea life, plants, mammals, birds and of course Santa Claus. It also stores a wealth of natural resources, including fresh water and fossil fuels. The Arctic region is threatened from all sides: overfishing, toxic pollution, oil drilling... and oh yes, it's shrinking away due to global warming, which is a problem for the whole planet.


The layer of gases that surrounds the earth. It is made up of different layers according to how far away from the surface of the Earth it is. Gases when at one layer may be a pollutant, but in another layer may be essential. For example Ozone is vital in the upper atmosphere between 10 km and 50 km up, while in the lower atmosphere it a pollutant and a danger to human health.


A philosophy of holistic healing and wellness, from ancient India. Derived from the Sanskrit words ayur, meaning life and veda, meaning knowledge or science.

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