Glossary of Environmental Terms

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Cairo Plan - recommendations for stabilizing world population agreed upon at the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in September 1994. The plan calls for improved health care and family planning services for women, children and families throughout the world, and also emphasizes the importance of education for girls as a factor in the shift to smaller families.

calendar - in the legislative sense, a group of bills or proposals to be discussed or considered in a legislative committee or on the floor of the House or Senate.

cancer - unregulated growth of changed cells; a group of changed, growing cells (tumor).

carbon dioxide (CO2) - a naturally occurring greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, concentrations of which have increased (from 280 parts per million in preindustrial times to over 350 parts per million today) as a result of humans' burning of coal, oil, natural gas and organic matter (e.g., wood and crop wastes).

carbon tax - a charge on fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) based on their carbon content. When burned, the carbon in these fuels becomes carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the chief greenhouse gas.

carcinogens - substances that cause cancer, such as tar.

carpooling - sharing a car to a destination to reduce fuel use, pollution and travel costs.

caucus - a meeting of a political party, usually to appoint representatives to party positions.

CFC - see chlorofluorocarbons.

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chamber - as regards the U.S. government, either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

chlorination byproducts - cancer-causing chemicals created when chlorine used for water disinfection combines with dirt and organic matter in water.

chlorine - a highly reactive halogen element, used most often in the form of a pungent gas to disinfect drinking water.

chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) - stable, artificially-created chemical compounds containing carbon, chlorine, fluorine and sometimes hydrogen. Chlorofluorocarbons, used primarily to facilitate cooling in refrigerators and air conditioners, have been found to damage the stratospheric ozone layer which protects the earth and its inhabitants from excessive ultraviolet radiation.

Clayoquot Sound - one of the last remaining unlogged watersheds on the west coast of Canada's Vancouver Island.

clean fuel - fuels which have lower emissions than conventional gasoline and diesel. Refers to alternative fuels as well as to reformulated gasoline and diesel.

cleanup - treatment, remediation, or destruction of contaminated material.

clearcutting - a logging technique in which all trees are removed from an area, typically 20 acres or larger, with little regard for long-term forest health.

climate change - a regional change in temperature and weather patterns. Current science indicates a discernible link between climate change over the last century and human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels.

cloture - the formal end to a debate or filibuster in the Senate requiring a three-fifths vote.

coastal pelagic - fish that live in the open ocean at or near the water's surface but remain relatively close to the coast. Mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are examples of coastal pelagic fish.

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commercial extinction - the depletion of a population to the point where fisherman cannot catch enough to be economically worthwhile.

communities of color - Hispanic, black or Asian people or groups living together or connected in some way.

community right-to-know - public accessibility to information about toxic pollution.

compact fluorescents - florescent light bulbs small enough to fit into standard light sockets, which are much more energy-efficient than standard incandescent bulbs.

compost - process whereby organic wastes, including food wastes, paper, and yard wastes, decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioners, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

Congressional Record - a document published by the government printing office recording all debates, votes and discussions taking place in the Congress; available for free inspection at all government document repositories, as well as in some major libraries.

contamination - pollution.

contraceptive - preventing conception and pregnancy.

creek - a watercourse smaller than, and often tributary to, a river.

critical mass - the minimum mass of fissionable material that will support a sustaining chain reaction.

crop dusting - the application of pesticides to plants by a low-flying plane.

cryptosporidium - a protozoan (single-celled organism) that can infect humans, usually as a result of exposure to contaminated drinking water.

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